2021 is beginning to wind down, but not before a fantastic festive period. After spending the latter parts of last year in lockdown, unable to see our friends and family for much of winter, the last couple of months of this year promises to be busier than ever with people once again allowed out for Christmas parties.
Of course, a night at the races is a popular festive period tradition, and there are plenty of big greyhound events taking place throughout the course of late November and December to choose from, including the Cesarewitch, the Eclipse, the Olympic and the Champion Hurdle— all of which are big attractions in the greyhound betting markets.
However, arguably the biggest is the Puppy Derby. Returning to the re-opened Towcester on December 19th, the 500-metre contest is the biggest race in the sport for puppies and boasts a lucrative prize purse. So, to help set the scene and get you in the mood for the event, read on as we take a look at the last three winners of the Category 1 race.
2018 – Argentina
Following Magical Bale’s triumph in the 2017 renewal of the Puppy Derby, Argentina gifted trainer Kevin Sutton back-to-back wins in the race. The first contest to be held at Henlow upon Towcester’s closure, it was a straight forward run to glory from Argentina. The greyhound broke well from the traps to gain an advantage along the rails, and didn’t look back as he went on to win by two and a half lengths with a time of 27.50 seconds.
“Once he came out running, I knew he’d have a major chance,” Hutton said.“He was caught in the semis, but conditions were quite sticky then, and the speed of him and Newinn Banger took them clear. Ours had to be strong off the second bend when Pat’s dog challenged. It was a great race, we’re delighted to have won.”
2019 – BockosDoomie
There was a comfortable victory for BockosDoomiein the 2019 edition of the Puppy Derby, as he landed trainer Patrick Janssens his first win in the prestigious race. Still held at Henlow in July, BockosDoomietook to the rails from the traps, helped massively by Perrys Choice cutting across the favourite, and he had gained the lead off the second bend before bursting down the home straight to beat Droops Cannon by an impressive five and three-quarter lengths.
“He’s an exceptional talent and it’s just great he’s managed to win a big race so soon in his career,” Janssens said at the Bedfordshire track. “His record already is a great one.He’s only had eight races and his only defeats have come in the Derby, which helpfully tells you something. He was a young dog in that sort of company, but still reached the third round.”
2020 – Surprising
There were few surprises in last year’s Puppy Derby when Seamus Cahill’s Surprising stormed past the post two and a quarter lengths clear of Janssens’ Bockos Melody, denying the Belgian trainer back-to-back titles. The most impressive dog in the semi-finals, Surprising fought back late on to take the lead at the third and final bend before powering down the back-straight to pull clear and win rather comfortably at Towcester. It was a first win in the Puppy Derby for Cahill in 10 years, with Rayvin Giovanni landing him a maiden victory in 2010.
“He’d always showed promise and impressed me when he won at Hove – and he ran Towcester really well,” Cahill said . “On the night it was a terrific performance – he showed pace to the bend and down the back straight. It was a really good overall effort. He’s a dog with a future and has certainly come forward.”