ANOTHER major final here at Central Park - and potentially another massive storyline, because whoever wins the Ladbrokes Kent Derby Final 2020 will have extra special reason to celebrate.
Will it be a first Category One success for trainer Samantha West (Ballynabee Lucky)?
Might Patrick Janssens (Kilara Lion, Lenson Whelan) all but clinch the GBGB Trainer of the Year title?
Will this week’s St Leger-winning trainer John Mullins (Swift Lettuce) train a record third Kent Derby champion?
Can puppy Tenpin, trained by John’s brother David, enhance his potential superstar status and justify red-hot favouritism?
Or might Darth Vader star and land the McNairs a second Kent Derby triumph?
Either way, if this year’s final is as exciting as last year’s close finish between Forest Alan and Bockos Doomie then we are in for a cracker!
Then, it was Seamus Cahill’s dog who came out on top in a memorable finish and he just missed out on a place in this year’s decider in last week’s semi-finals.
Bockos Doomie’s second place 12 months ago means Central Park’s Patrick Janssens has now trained the last two Kent Derby runner-ups after Headford Johnny in 2018. The kennel won the 2017 running with Bockos Alfie.
So Patrick is looking to add to an impressive Kent Derby record, as is John Mullins.
John trained Manera Spark - the only dog to defend the title - to victories in this competition in 2004 and 2005 and has numbered several finalists since then.
This year he sends out Swift Lettuce against, among others, his brother David’s exciting talent Tenpin - on a winning sequence of seven.
Tenpin is already a big-race winner here at Central Park having won the Brinkleys Poet At Stud Young Guns.
David also won this year’s Colossus Bets Kent Silver Salver here in July with Shrewd Call so is certainly no stranger to Central Park success!
Liz McNair, who sends out Darth Vader, has also enjoyed Kent Derby success in the past with the brilliant King Turbo in 2018 and arrives, like John Mullins, as a GBGB Category One-winning trainer already this week.
Mullins struck in the RPGTV St Leger at Perry Barr on Thursday with the brilliant Smallmead, while McNair won both the BGBF British Breeders Stakes and BGBF Midlands Sprint Trophy with Queen Dolly and King Drake at Nottingham on Monday.
First run in 2000, the Kent Derby had one of its most famous winners that year when the Derek Knight-trained Smoking Bullet struck gold for part-owners John Ward and a certain Vinnie Jones.
Smoking Bullet reached successive Greyhound Derby finals at Wimbledon and also won a Sussex Cup for the football-turned-actor.
Pinewood Blue’s victory the following year for Linda Jones provides a link with Patrick Janssens given Janssens is a former head man of Mark Wallis, Jones’s son-in-law.
Wallis, the 11-time champion trainer, won the Kent Derby with Jazz Apollo in 2011.
Victory for either David Mullins or Samantha West would add a new name to a superb roll of honour which includes a host of the sport’s biggest names.
Central Park promoter Roger Cearns says: “The Kent Derby has a fantastic history and one which we’re immensely proud of.
“Most of the sport’s best-known trainers have won the competition in the last 20 years, which means the event has attracted top-class greyhounds.
“We have a red-hot favourite this year in Tenpin, who is regarded as the best young talent in the game just now. He reminds me very much of Bubbly Bluebird, who came here as a young dog a few years back - and came of age!
“Time will tell whether Tenpin can follow in his paw-steps, because the race to the first bend with so much early pace in this year’s final will make the start crucial.
“I wish the owners and trainers of each of the finalists all the very best. This has been an extraordinary year for everyone - so to stage the 2020 running of the Ladbrokes Kent Derby is something we are delighted to be able to do.”
2020 Ladbrokes Kent Derby - The Finalists
Trap 1 Ballynabee Lucky
Owner: Steve Lemar
Trainer: Samantha West, Hove
Started his career in A3 over 515m at home track Hove before his early paced efforts saw connections begin sprinting him. A 415m Harlow win was followed by a crack at the [Colossus Bets] Kent Silver Silver where he reached the final behind impressive winner Shrewd Call. Romford (400m) and Crayford (380m) wins came after, before a sprint win here prepared Ballynabee Lucky for the Ladbrokes Kent Derby. Landed a pillar-to-post win in the semis and those catch-me-if-you-can tactics will be employed again.
Trap 2 Kilara Lion
Owners: Chris Crampton, Harry Crapper, David Priestley and Nigel Thomas
Trainer: Patrick Janssens, Central Park
The first of two Patrick Janssens finalists from a kennel which supplied 2017 champion Bockos Alfie, as well as runner-up in the last two years (Headford Johnny and Bockos Doomie), Kilara Lion lines up in his second GBGB Category One final having won the Yarmouth Derby in September. From a cracking litter which includes Irish Derby finalist Kilara Icon, Lion represents current the Trainer of the Year leader having switched to Patrick’s kennels after former handler Alex Hopkins took a break from training - to have a baby.
Trap 3 Swift Lettuce
Owners: Chris Waters, John & James Wright
Trainer: John Mullins, Yarmouth
From the kennel which supplied the only back-to-back winner of the Kent Derby (2004-05) with Manera Spark, Swift Lettuce aims to provide his trainer John Mullins with a third success in the event - John also had two finalists in 2018 behind King Turbo. An early paced sort, this Monmore Puppy Derby third started out in A3 at Yarmouth and numbers victories at both tracks, as well as Romford over 400m and Nottingham over 500m, where he reached the quarter-finals of the Derby. Boasts three wins here including in last week’s semis.
Trap 4 Lenson Whelan
Owners: David Cartwright
Trainer: Patrick Janssens, Central Park
The second Patrick Janssens-trained finalist is easily the most experienced runner in the field and is one of the best competition greyhounds around. He has made a number of major finals, including this year in the Yarmouth Derby won by kennelmate Kilara Lion, who reopposes here. Rarely out of the frame and a regular winner, Whelan finished second to Kilara Lion in the heats before chasing home hot favourite Tenpin in the semis. Has made a serious contribution to his trainer’s bid this year to become champion trainer.
Trap 5 Tenpin
Owners: Kane Messenger, Michael and Robert Olley
Trainer: David Mullins, Romford
Hot favourite to win the Kent Derby, Tenpin lines up as not just the youngest finalist but is still a puppy. Turning two years of age next week, David Mullins’ runner is already twice a major winner having won the Romford Puppy Cup before following up in the Brinkleys Poet At Stud Young Guns over this C&D last month. He racked up a magnificent winning sequence of seven in the semi-finals and his calculated time in the heats was under the track record. Has only ever raced from traps one or two - and faces the five-box here.
Trap 6 Darth Vader (w)
Owners: KSS Syndicate
Trainer: Liz McNair, Central Park
The sole wide seed and third locally trained hope, Darth Vader aims to land Team McNair a second GBGB Category One event this week after Queen Dolly’s win in the British Breeders Stakes at Nottingham on Monday. From the same kennel which sent out King Turbo to win the 2018, this ex-Irish runner has wins at Shelbourne Park on the card where he finished fifth in the Juvenile Derby only last month. Is therefore having just his third UK start, so could improve on his placed efforts in heat and semi-final. The draw certainly helps.
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