2017 Greyhound Derby favourite Clares Rocket made his seasonal return at Towcester earlier this week where he got his first taste of the prestigious English track. Graham Holland’s dog finished second behind Bruisers Bullet when going off at 2/7 in the betting for the race.
The bookmakers reacted to the trial by pushing Clares Rocket out to 10/1 from 8/1 in the betting for the Derby, but he does remain as the market leader ahead of Priceless Brandy, Droopys Buick and Bubbly Bluebird, who are all available at 16/1.
Clares Rocket, who was seeded as middle runner last Tuesday, ran from trap six in the trial and, after missing the break, he always had work to do to get back into the contest. Holland is expected to change his seeding to a railer before his next run, which means he should avoid the widest trap at the course for the Derby campaign.
Despite the slow start, Clares Rocket finished his race well and was particularly strong on the back straight. Unfortunately for his connections, he was unable to reel in Bruisers Bullet, who clocked 29.04secs. That time was only seven spots behind the track record for 500m at Towcester, which was set by kennel mate Drive On Tipp. Bruisers Bullet is now available at 25/1 in the Derby betting where he has been popular following his latest success.
Clares Rocket could have one more run before the qualification round of the Derby. Holland was not too disappointed by the defeat and he expects his runner to come on for the outing. He told Racing Post: “I’m a believer in making the mistakes first and to have him right for the Derby. He’s a better dog when he’s racing week in, week out. Having observed him running the track on Tuesday, I’ll seed him inside next week.
“I hope to bring him back Saturday week. He needs to get back into the mood and to get used to the kennelling. He was very excited in the kennel on Tuesday.”
Four dates have been provisionally set for the qualification round of the 2017 Derby. Those races are likely to take place between Wednesday, 24th May and Saturday, 27th May. The first round will occur from Thursday, 1st June and Saturday, 3rd June. There are two days booked for the second round, which are Friday, 9th June and Saturday 10th, while from the third round onwards all the races will take place on one night, culminating on Saturday, 1st July for the final where the winner will earn its connections the first prize of £175,000.
Holland has never won the Greyhound Derby; however, he will be hoping to follow in the footsteps of fellow Irish trainer Paul Hennessy, who was successful in 2016 with Jaytee Jet. Three Irish dogs have won the race in the last 14 years and there is a strong chance that record could improve as there may be a record number of dogs making the trip across from Ireland in 2017.