JONATHAN KAY: Ahead of the quarter-finals, read Jonathan’s betting advice and hear his selections.
Third round highlights
Ballinabola Ed could not have made a bigger impression in round three of the Derby when everything came together for Pat Buckley’s dog in what was just about the complete performance.
Questions that had been asked, including by myself, about a possible vulnerability early on should he continue to be flat-footed at the start were answered in the most emphatic manner possible as he produced a 4.14sec sectional then flew past early-paced Aussie Captain to take command into the first bend.
The way he threw himself round the first two bends was breath-taking, combining speed and balance as he raced clear of the field to clock a best-of-the-night 29.12sec (-10).
As in round two, the state of the running surface was an issue with a number of trainers critical of the slow conditions, although the racing was easier on the eye than had been the case a week earlier.
Buckley’s Singalong Sally was certainly easy on the eye in the manner she disposed of Greyhound of the Year Signet Ace. Despite getting hooked up in a speed battle, I’d be hopeful that my long-term outright fancy is coming to her peak at just the right time.
Seamus Cahill matched Buckley’s achievement with a double of his own courtesy of Kilkenny Santy and Global Vision on a night when he got all four of his runners through to the quarter-finals. But he did bid farewell to reigning champion Thorn Falcon, who got tangled up between the last two bends behind Singalong Sally when scrambling for a qualifying position.
Ireland has ten of the 24 Derby quarter-finalists and I’m going for a clean sweep for the raiding party on Saturday starting with Priceless Jet, who gets a sporting NAP vote in the opener.
Paul Hennessy’s dog is a one-time 500m track record holder at Towcester but has had a quiet start to his campaign with a second and a couple of thirds so far.
However, his berth in six this weekend looks assured to allow him a clear run whereas the inside runners, all speedy sorts, could be seeking the same ground and squeeze up as a result.
Pat Buckley is enjoying a brilliant spell, not just at Towcester, but also back home in Ireland where he landed the valuable Clonmel Produce Stakes on Sunday with Gaston Pecas, and his Derby challenge can remain on track with a treble.
Ballinabola Ed is a hot outright favourite now and can live up to that billing in the second quarter-final where Deelish Frankie, on his immediate inside in four, should smooth his early path to the turn. Strong-running Hello Hammond appeals for the forecast and could be worth considering each-way.
Buckley’s Bobsleigh Dream has been an early mover for the third quarter-final and it is not hard to see why given her draw inside middle-running Make Noise, while Lautaro looks ripe for opposing and is my LAY of the round on the basis that Derrinasafa Boss is a major hazard early.
The Buckley treble and Irish clean sweep can be completed by Singalong Sally in the finale. I’m not about to desert her despite three other third round winners lying in wait, and her draw in four proved no handicap in the opening two rounds.
Race 1 – T6 Priceless Jet NAP
Race 2 – T5 Ballinabola Ed
Race 3 – T1 Bobsleigh Dream (LAY T6 Lautaro)
Race 4 – T4 Singalong Sally NB