ENGLISH GREYHOUND DERBY: Paul Lawrence and Barry Caul cast their eyes over the final of the English Greyhound Derby (9.15pm) staged at Towcester on Saturday with their best BETDAQ bets including the supporting races …

⭕ Greyhound Derby Final – 9:15pm

At 9:15pm on Saturday night it all comes to a conclusion. Almost 200 greyhounds were entered at the start of the competition and we’re down to the final six, three from Ireland and three from England. The three dogs from Ireland all represent trainer Graham Holland, which is a fantastic achievement.

He’s got a really strong hand, and we have to start with Swords Rex. He’s unbeaten in the competition and has been a real superstar. The draw is okay for him, and he looks really tough to beat.

It truly is a magnificent achievement, because of the fact Graham and Nicky [Holland] travel over [from Ireland], and they have lots of help from Timmy and Rachel [Holland] as well which probably makes their achievement even more special.

The fact that both Swords Rex and Clona Duke threw their hats into the ring quite early with some scintillating performances and they’ve made it to the final is testament to their quality.

Swords Rex has been showing electric early dash and devastating back straight pace and I think that, if he gets a clear run and a decent break, he’ll go clear and that should be good enough.

Swords Rex is already the winner of the Con & Annie Kirby and the Easter Cup at Shelbourne Park. If he wins this race on Saturday, he will bring his career earnings to over €300,000. It would be a fantastic achievement and I wouldn’t mind a leg in him at all!

Of the obvious dangers, we spoke last week about Romeo Command and his excellent win record. He’s got a good chance if he can trap on terms, and as we’ve seen the last few weeks around Towcester, trap three can be the ‘ping box’. If he does ‘ping’, he will make it interesting.

They were drawn this way in the semi-final when Romeo Command was in trap four and Swords Rex was in five. Swords Rex probably got a slightly better start than Romeo Command, but it’s that dash once his feet touch the sand, Swords Rex really flies into the turn.

From trap three, Romeo Command could easily edge off a true line a little bit. In an ideal scenario they would be drawn the other way round, but I think that the early pace that Swords Rex possesses should enable him to cut loose from Romeo Command. But as you say, if Romeo Command takes an absolute flyer and Swords Rex does miss the break slightly, then there could be some problems in the first few metres.

He would be a most deserving winner, he’s been so consistent throughout the competition and he will go off a shade of odds-on, I think.

I think there might be a little bit of value left with Gaytime Nemo at around about 10/1. What are your thoughts?

Gaytime Nemo and Clona Duke are two quality greyhounds from Graham and Nicky’s yard. Clona Duke, the fact that he’s broken the track record twice shows you how quick he is. I think it’s just his inconsistency at traps that’s the issue, but if he does it right on the night then he’s certainly quick enough to match strides with Swords Rex.

Probably if you’re looking at a decent trap draw, Gaytime Nemo fits that bill in that Cochise [drawn in trap one] is more of a staying type. I think Gaytime Nemo probably wants to be drawn just off the fence and Romeo Command could just shift off from trap three, so he hasn’t got too bad a draw at all. He threw in that really good effort in the quarter-finals, when clocking a smart time, so you can’t discount him.

I just think the fastest greyhound and the most consistent greyhound in the line-up is SWORDS REX.

I echo those sentiments. We do wish all six finalists the very best of luck, but from myself and Paul it’s SWORDS REX all the way.

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Best bets on the undercard

⭕ Champion Bitches – 7:10pm

I’d love to be a layer here because if you were to lay one or two of these at around 2/1 or 5/2, you would have four top-quality chances running for you. Although, I will probably side with UNDULATION. Whats Up Eva could just miss the break a little bit, though she does have fine early pace on her day, but Undulation hasn’t had that long of a season and she could show better than she has already done.

Fabulous Azurra is in there as well and she was a nice winner at the Winter Racing Festival at Shelbourne Park last year when she won the bitches’ race.

It’s a quality line-up and the only worry is I don’t think Undulation wants to be drawn on the inside. Whats Up Eva has certainly been starting well at Hove when she led and got picked up by Havana Bale Out on her last start.

I’m a big fan of Faypoint Susie as she could easily go well up the middle and, if traps one and two did tangle on the way to the turn, she will be able to lead and could give John Mullins a winner on Derby night.

However, I think the race may pan out into the paws of HAVANA BALE OUT. She is there in trap six and I think she could just put a clear distance between herself and Distant Emma into the turn and swoop late if there was some trouble on the inside.

⭕ Stayers’ Final – 8:21pm

If you could put a tongue tie and blinkers on a greyhound, then I would love to see what DARBYS DELIGHT could do in them as he was distracted at Newcastle earlier in the week. He is incredibly fast though, it’s not a long run to the first bend and he is able to trap, so I’ll side with him.

Jacktavern Bella is the obvious one. She has had quite a long campaign, and someone said that she looked a bit jaded last week, so maybe six bends could bring out the best in her.

If the race did get slowed down a little bit that would help Jacktavern Bella. Darbys Delight is a bit quirky and Salacres Smasher was quite impressive last time out when she led all the way and only just held on.

JACKTAVERN BELLA has been applying herself really well in the Derby and I’d probably just side with her because I think she has a touch of quality over six bends.

⭕ Greyhound Plate Final – 8:56pm

The Plate Final is once again a tricky puzzle to solve and it’s always going to be tricky when you have Fromposttopillar in there from trap six. I was a little bit disappointed with Fromposttopillar last week who just didn’t seem to have a clear run around the two bottom bends when aiming to pick up Brookside Richie.  He is incredibly fast, but this draw did see him get knocked out in the first round and he is around 2/1.

I will take a chance with FROMPOSTTOPILLAR. You’ve got to give Rioja Joey a chance, as well as Whyaye Man who can flash home, but I don’t think Brookside Richie will break as well.

Fromposttopillar must have every chance because there hasn’t been too much between him and Brookside Ritchie. Fromposttopillar picked off Brookside Richie from a long way back and won in the first round [Plate], but then in the second round Brookside Richie cut loose and Fromposttopillar didn’t have the clearest of passages.

From this draw, I think Blackhouse Harry could edge in. He’ll then have the whole of Northamptonshire to work from, and I think the fact there is no other greyhound on his outside means that – if he can get any sort of decent start – he could set sail after Brookside Richie, who seems like the likely leader.

Rioja Joey could play a part if he came out of the traps well from four, but I think the safe play is FROMPOSTTOPILLAR because you know you’ve got every chance of him coming with that withering run of his around the final turn.

⭕ Dorando Marathon – 9:55pm

All eyes are on SPACE JET. The race sort of fell into her hands at Hove last time out, but she is a real star over these marathon-type trips and it’s quite hard to look beyond her. I think she has a big chance in this, but she is short.

A couple of people have mentioned to me about her race fitness, but I can’t see this being a problem as she has run around four bends and has two runs over six bends, so her style of running means she is a real crowd pleaser. She looks like the one to beat in the Dorando.

She will be short and could be short of race fitness because she has just had that one race after her seasonal rest and is coming to the latter stages of her career, but she is quality and a people pleaser. She doesn’t have to lead to win; she can come from miles back.

Ower Smasher was very impressive last time out, but I’m not sure what he beat, which was reflected in the price. He’s a worthy opponent, but I think all things being equal, I’d love to see SPACE JET win for connections.

Best Bets

Champion Bitches – 7:10pm

Stayers’ Final – 8:21pm

Greyhound Plate Final – 8:56pm

Greyhound Derby Final – 9:15pm

Dorando Marathon – 9:55pm

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