Jaytee Jet delivers Derby glory for Hennessy
After eight years of frustrating defeats in the final, the Irish greyhounds finally came good with a commanding performance in the final of the William Hill English Derby at Wimbledon on Saturday.
Victory went to the Paul Hennessy-trained favourite Jaytee Jet, which just prevailed by a neck from Pat Buckley's Droopys Roddick, with Irish-owned Hiya Butt a short head third and another Buckley runner, Lenson Rocky, finishing fourth just another length back.
For Hennessy, this was the crowning moment of his career during which he has also won the Irish Derby and Scottish Derby. It also brought an end to a frustrating sequences of near misses at Wimbledon, where he previously had four finalists.
Hiya Butt raced to the corner closely attended by Jaytee Jet, which was already being shouted home a winner. But Jet wallowed on the bend and, emerging from the second bend, Hiya Butt had slipped clear while Jaytee was only fourth. He quickly went past Droopys Roddick to assume third behind Hiya Butt and Lenson Rocky.
The race began to change at the third bend, where the three Irish runners were lined up behind Hiya Butt. There was a slight bump between the Buckley runners, Droopys Roddick and Lenson Rocky, and that probably proved costly. Jaytee Jet was on the wide outside as usual.
Jaytee Jet and Droopys Roddick finally collared Hiya Butt yards from the line and it was Jaytee Jet which landed the £150,000 first prize from Droopys Roddick (£20,000), with Hiya Butt (£15,000) third.
Meanwhile, on the home front, there was a major shock as reigning champion Ballydoyle Honey ran below par and failed to qualify for next week's Irish Oaks final at Shelbourne.
She trailed in fifth in the first semi-final which was won in most impressive fashion by the Gerry Melia-trained Holycross Leah in 28.21. This speedster always controlled the race and won by four and a half lengths from Leamaneigh Mags with Ballymac Sarahjo also qualifying.
The other heat saw the Graham Holland-trained Sidarian Pearl lead all the way for a two-length victory over Witches Belle in 28.38, while High St Jesse also got through.