JONATHAN HOBBS: It’s the first batch of second round heats of the Star Sports/TRC Events & Leisure English Greyhound Derby 2021 at Towcester tonight – with eight heats on Friday and Saturday apiece, reducing the field ahead of next week’s crunch last-48 third round.

Fastest overall from last week’s three-night first round was Native Maestro as the Graham Holland-trained runner led the Irish challenge on the Classic and, with his favoured trap one again tonight, will be fancied by many to land the spoils. However, is there value elsewhere in the race?

Read on . . .


7.16: Heat one is a cracker and really sets the scene for the night given four first-round winners do battle. Expect a superb early-paced race between the likes of Jaguar Macie, Signet Ace and Glengar Bale and, whoever times the start best, takes a grip on this. But the call is for Graham Rankin’s blue-boxed runner who could use the inside line to best effect. Ballymac Kingdom will be flying home and is certainly good enough if close enough.

Play: Jaguar Macie

7.34: Beach Avenue will be popular in this five-runner affair after some powerhouse performances at Towcester. He’s the type you could almost place in the final given his strength and likely trap six draws throughout. However Kilara Lion might be ready to roar again after a recent break. The vacant trap next door gives Patrick Janssens’ runner the space to exploit into the turn and onwards and he could go clear.

Play: Kilara Lion

7.54: Ireland’s grip on the event could tighten here courtesy of Liam Dowling’s Ballymac Ariel. This exciting young bitch posted a rapidfire 29.15sec in a pre-event trial and could be tough to hold if turning handy here. Bubbly Magnum looks set to lead but it might be tough to hold the trap five runner next door. She kept on well behind Glengar Bale in the first round and that looks a cracking formline.

Play: Ballymac Ariel

8.14: Native Maestro will be all the rage here after drawing his coveted trap one again. He showed great speed in winning in the first round and the time – the fastest of 32 heats – said it all. However, there was a lot to like about compatriot Ballymac Fairone’s performance last week. He was bang in the mix against De Machine and Kameko without the clearest of runs and looks a likely improver for Liam Dowling having just recently lost his puppy status.

Play: Ballymac Fairone

8.34: The clash between Bockos Belly and Warzone Tom in this heat five looks a cracker on paper. The latter has the overall edge on clocks after a then-track record 29.18sec in a trial stakes last month. However Bockos Belly went quicker in the first round when winning his heat and Patrick Janssens’ runner should still be coming forward after a break. He traps well from the middle and might always be forcing the issue with his all-round speed.

Play: Bockos Belly

8.52: With Little Emir withdrawn this morning, the well-pitched Drumcrow Brent looks tough to hold outside. Mark Wallis’s runner continues to thrive at Towcester and his strong-running style will again be a threat – especially should they crowd inside or up front. Shelone Milo has space inside to exploit and could escape the pack, but might succumb late on to the six-boxed runner.

Play: Drumcrow Brent

9.09: Heat seven now and De Machine should build on his first-round effort. He remains a lightly-raced improver and a strong-running one at that. Others may lead but a handy position for Brendan Matthews’ runner might well be enough to grab gold. Key will be keeping potential trail-blazers Adeles Duke and Angry Dad in his sights – plus the Kirby Memorial runner-up securing a clear run in behind.

Play: De Machine

9.26: Duke De Janerio might rate the value in the closing heat eight. Robert Gleeson’s runner showed pace behind Lenson Bocko last week and the Irish raider should improve for the run. However he might need to against another Irish hotpot Knocknaboul Syd, the Easter Cup champ, who might well step up on last week’s effort. Queen Beyonce also deserves respect after her comeback win. Frankies Jet is a potential lid-pinger outside.

Play: Duke De Janerio

Good luck all.