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Irish winners at the Greyhound Derby

With the English Greyhound Derby now done and dusted for the year, anticipation is already starting to build for next year’s instalment of the famed race. In what is the biggest fixture on the greyhound racing calendar, the Derby attracts fans from far and wide who come to witness the elite of the elite vie for the ultimate prize in the sport.

This year’s Derby was no different, with strong crowds on hand to watch star attraction Romeo Magico reign supreme over an exceptionally talented field of competitors. The Graham Holland-trained greyhound’s win was not only noteworthy due to the various Betdaq greyhound betting favourites he bested to achieve the feat – it was also particularly significant given it marked the first time an English-bred dog had won the Greyhound Derby in eight years.

The lack of dominance from English-bred greyhounds has often been as a result of the prevalence of an ever-improving and formidable Irish opposition, an opposition who regularly punch above their weight on the international greyhound racing scene. With that in mind, let’s highlight the laundry list of English Greyhound Derby winners to have hailed from the land of saints and scholars.

2020: Deerjet Sydney

Entering the race with odds of 11/4, Deerjet Sydney bounced out of the boxes early to establish a healthy lead at the first turn – before displaying plenty of resolve down the stretch as he managed to stave off a late push courtesy of Ballydoyle Valor and Coolavanny Chick. The result was Pat Buckley’s first ever Derby win, helping solidify his place as one of the premier trainers in the sport.

2019: Priceless Blake

You don’t have to go too far back in the history books to find another Irish winner prior to Deerjet Sydney’s victory in 2020, with the Paul Hennessy-trained Priceless Blake taking the chocolates just a year prior. Winning in very similar fashion to that of Deerjet Sydney, Priceless Blake shot out of the boxes and built on his early lead via a promising position on the inside rail. In spite of a gallant effort from both Ballymac Tas and Skywalker Logan, Priceless Blake held on to win by a slim margin.

2016: Jaytee Jet

Trainer Paul Hennessy’s first ever Derby win came courtesy of Jaytee Jet, whose performance in 2016 deserves plenty of praise. Although Hennessy wouldn’t have been too displeased with his greyhound’s start, Jaytee Jet found himself with plenty of work to do as he approached the second turn. Finding himself out wide and chasing leaders Hiya Butt and Droopys Roddick, it appeared as though an upset was on the cards. However, Jaytee Jet proved why he deserved the pre-race tag of favourite, as he stormed home down the outside with just metres to go to win in dramatic fashion.

2008: Loyal Honcho  

Taking place at Wimbledon Stadium, the Seamus Graham-trained Loyal Honcho’s win in the 2008 English Greyhound Derby can only be described as pure dominance. Leading from start to finish, his pole position never looked like it was going to be threatened.

2004: Droopys Scholes

Four years before Loyal Honcho achieved glory, Droopy Scholes accomplished his own little slice of history, beating out Big Freeze and Tims Crow to provide trainer Ian Reilly with his first Derby win.

1999: Chart King

Lining up as the red-hot favourite, the Karl and Ralph Hewitt-trained Chart King displayed why he was so heavily backed. After sitting behind leader Frisby Full for the first two turns, Chart King managed to rein in the rank outsider at the third bend and win by just over a length.

1996: Shanless Slippy

Yet another favourite, yet another decisive win. Taking place at Wimbledon Stadium, the Clonmel Produce Stakes champion Shanless Slippy continued his rich vein of form to beat out the ever-present threat Night Trooper and 1995 English Greyhound Derby champion Batties Rocket.

1992: Farloe Melody

Trained by Matt O’Donnell, 1992 champion Farloe Melody justified his pre-race favouritism by dominating the rest of the field to win by four lengths.

1989: Lartigue Note

Similar to Farloe Melody’s performance in 1992, Lartigue Note’s ability to break well and draw clear of the field early on paid dividends, with the Ger McKenna-trained greyhound going on to win convincingly by more than five lengths. Lartigue Note’s performance in the final was in stark contrast to his showing in the semi-final, where he lost to Catsrock Rocket in a relatively messy outing.

1981: Parkdown Jet

In what was an intriguing match-up, 1981 saw Parkdown Jet claim the spoils in a very entertaining and unpredictable final. With a melee ensuing between the greyhounds at the first bend, an opportunity for Parkdown Jet to take the lead and draw clear presented itself – an opening he took without hesitation. In what was just his ninth race for owners Mick and Sean Barrett, Parkdown Jet’s performance was cool, calm and collected in an otherwise chaotic affair.Whether you’re a racing historian or a punter who enjoys a bet, there’s no denying the impact Irish greyhounds have had and continue to have on this fantastic sport.

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