Friday 17 November 2017

Buckley's Mind the Net top choice for Derby

A victory for Crokers Champ would constitute a remarkable training performance. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/SPORTSFILE
A victory for Crokers Champ would constitute a remarkable training performance. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/SPORTSFILE
Michael Fortune

Michael Fortune

A year ago, two Irish greyhounds dominated the betting on the English Derby final, but failed to deliver after coming together on the first bend.

Hopefully, history will not repeat itself next Saturday when, again, two Irish dogs will go to traps as red-hot favourites to win the richest ever English Derby final at Wimbledon.

A massive prize of £200,000 awaits the winner of the final and the Pat Buckley-trained Mind The Net is currently the 5/4 favourite ahead of Peter Cronin's Crokers Champ at 3/1, then it's 7/1 bar the pair.

The favourite Mind The Net is a real international performer as he is jointly owned by Javier Jarne from Spain and Englishmen Mike Davis and Keith Allsopp, while he is trained in Cappawhite by Buckley.

Mind The Net was unlucky to lose narrowly in the Scottish Derby final at Shawfield, but he has really come into top form during the Wimbledon classic and he has been quite brilliant on his way to the final.

Indeed, commentators almost ran out of superlatives when describing his semi-final victory, where he came from fourth place on the third bend to win in style.

Buckley has always had a very high regard for this greyhound and I well recall a night last October when his advice was "have a few euro on Mind The Net to win the St Leger, because this fellow is turning into some dog."

While Buckley has already enjoyed Irish and Scottish Derby success with College Causeway and Cabra Cool respectively, Peter Cronin is still seeking a first Derby winner, though he has had a couple of finalists in the Irish classic.

Peter brought no fewer than seven dogs to Wimbledon and the Mooncoin-based Tipperary native got two through to the semis where a missed break spelt disaster for Metro Jack.

But Crokers Champ has truly done him proud and victory for this dog would constitute a quite remarkable training performance.

Just five days before the first round of the English Derby commenced, Crokers Champ ran second to Boylesports Hero in the final of the Kirby Memorial at Limerick.

Most of us thought he was mad to throw this young dog straight into the very different surroundings of the English Derby. However, it has proved to be a masterstroke and Cronin has thoroughly enjoyed the journey.

In all, there will be eight Irish trained runners on Saturday's Wimbledon card, with Cronin responsible for seven.

Irish Independent

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