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    King Memphis Equals Towcester Track Record in First Round Heats of the Derby
King Memphis Equals Towcester Track Record in First Round Heats of the Derby
King Memphis. Source: gbgb.org.uk

King Memphis Equals Towcester Track Record in First Round Heats of the Derby

KING MEMPHIS, the ante-post favourite, matched the track record as Liz McNair’s star greyhound dazzled on the second night of first-round action in the 2024 Star Sports & TRC English Greyhound Derby at Towcester on Friday.

A year ago, Graham Holland’s Clona Duke set a new record for the 500m. Although that mark has since been surpassed, King Memphis equalled Droopys Clue’s best-ever 28.58 seconds on a night when Holland himself celebrated a five-timer, capped by defending champion Gaytime Nemo’s win in the finale.

King Memphis, the exceptional December 2021 son of Droopys Sydney and Queen Beyonce, thrilled spectators as he surged to the lead in heat 12 with a 4.03-second split, ultimately securing a six-length victory over Ballymac Finn (Liam Dowling), a semi-finalist last year, and Blake Delight (Kevin Boon).

This triumph alleviated the disappointment for the McNairs and the KSS Syndicate after Queen Joni, their multiple Category One winner, stumbled early and exited the competition in the first round. In contrast, the Graham Holland-trained Clonbrien Treaty, a multiple big-race winner, impressed by winning heat 11.

In the first heat of the night, the Easter Cup champion led on the outside, racing away to a four-and-three-quarter-length success over El Tornillo (Dave Lee) and Faypoint Sean (Graham Holland) in 29.12 seconds (+10), initiating a five-timer for the Hollands.

Their other winners included Romeo Steel, who edged out Ballymac Dapper (Liam Dowling) in heat 15 in 29.07 seconds (normal); last year’s finalist Swords Rex (28.99 seconds), who held off the running-on Druids All Go (Patrick Janssens) in heat 16; Faypoint Susie (29.03 seconds) in heat 19, leading home kennelmate Newinn Port for a Holland one-two; and Gaytime Nemo.

The reigning English Derby champion, Gaytime Nemo, impressed with a two-and-three-quarter-length victory over Bluejig Baron (Dave Lee) and Droopys Suprstar (Mike Burton) in 29.14 seconds (normal), demonstrating he is still in top form.

Ireland had a successful night as well, with John McGee-trained Hawkfield Blue winning heat 13. The July 2021 son of Good News and Brownstown Tango took control early, securing a two-and-a-half-length victory over Droopys Pivotel (Maxine Locke) in a fast 28.82 seconds (+10).

Jamie McGee, representing his grandfather, commented on the seven-time Shelbourne winner: “He got it right at the traps and showed what he can do. We know he’s got the ability with some good runs at Shelbourne and has serious early gears but these are different traps with a different hare mechanism and some will handle it, others might not. He handled it.”

Pat Buckley also enjoyed a strong performance with his Antigua Hawk making a notable UK debut in heat 18. With a 4.04-second sectional – only Bettys Jack’s 4.01 seconds and King Memphis’s 4.03 seconds were faster on the night – the April 2022 son of Droopys Sydney and Mystical Moll led all the way from Wolf Moon (Jill Llewellin) by three-and-a-quarter lengths in 28.81 seconds (normal).

The remaining heats saw victories from Patrick Janssens’ Droopys Supply, who led from start to finish, defeating the staying-on Burj Khalifa (Diane Henry) in heat 14 in 29.11 seconds (+10), and the John Mullins-trained Wrighty, who made a fast start and led all the way in heat 17 from Savana Aurora (Jason Gray) and 2022 runner-up Mr Chelm, clocking 29.11 seconds (normal).

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