JOHN MULLINS and Patrick Janssens both know what it takes to win a Kent Derby - in the case of Mullins twice over!
Mullins, a member of one of greyhound racing’s most well-known families with mother Linda a former champion trainer, late father Pat having won the Derby and brother David also a successful handler, trained Manera Spark to victories in this competition in 2004 and 2005 - and has two chances Sunday night.
He sends out Move Over Padre and Exiles Gift, while Janssens aims to land back-to-back victories himself having guided outsider Bockos Alfie to win last year. He fields Headford Johnny in the Ladbrokes-sponsored showpiece and bids to join Mullins, Tony Collett, Chris Allsopp and Paul Young, all of whom have won two Kent Derbys.
First run in 2000, the event had one of its most famous winners that year when the Derek Knight-trained Smoking Bullet struck gold for part-owners John Ward and Vinnie Jones - yes, that one! Smoking Bullet reached successive Greyhound Derby finals at Wimbledon and also won a Sussex Cup for the football-turned-actor. Heady days.
Pinewood Blue’s victory the following year for Linda Jones links one of Sundays finalists in the form of the Patrick Janssens-trained Headford Johnny given Janssens is a former head man of Mark Wallis, Jones’s son-in-law. Wallis is also on the roll of honour after Jazz Apollo’s Kent Derby victory here at Central Park in 2011.
Local hopes this year are plentiful with favourites King Turbo (Liz McNair) and Trade Fudge (Dan Brabon) both trained here, looking to add to Tony Collett’s brace of wins with Carlin Honcho (2006) and Lenson Bolt (2009), although Kent did supply the winner back in 2003 courtesy of the Dink Luckhurst-trained Haughty Ted.
A year before, former trainer Brian Clemenson sent out Willie Go Far to strike gold, and Clemenson enjoyed his visits to Central Park, then Sittingbourne, given he won Trainers’ Championship Meetings here. In winning with Willie Go Far, he also returned the trophy to Hove given Derek Knight’s success two years previously.
Seamus Cahill made it three Kent Derby wins for Hove when Sparklee Bernie won in 2010 and the Kent-based handler has also enjoyed his visits to Central Park with Grand National and Springbok successes on his CV - as well as, famously, that Derby success with Astute Missile at Towcester in 2017.
Romford trainer Paul Young has gone close to winning the blue riband, but does have two Kent Derbys to his name with Underground Paul (2014) and Bubbly Bluebird (2016). The latter was a hugely precocious talent whose first taste of all-aged action was in the Kent Derby, which he won brilliantly. It helped him land the GBGB Newcomer of the Year title.
Do It For Twiggy’s success in 2015 was also hugely popular given Erica Samuels’ dog had arrived on the back of Yarmouth Derby success on home soil. It gave the Yarmouth star a chance in the Greyhound of the Year reckoning - something that connections of King Turbo will have an eye on given his two Category One successes so far in 2018.
The McNairs sent out King Kid to finish second to the Patrick Janssens-trained Bockos Alfie - so will be hoping to go one better. However, Janssens is back again, as is John Mullins, now a Yarmouth trainer having scored those Manera Spark wins as a Walthamstow trainer, as is Kevin Boon, trainer of Cookie Crossan.
Boon landed one of his most famous wins with Murrys Act in the Juvenile Championship here, while for young Dan Brabon success for Trade Fudge, Sunday could be the biggest of his career. The stage is now set, so the best of luck to connections of all the runners. This is the 2018 Ladbrokes Kent Derby Final - good luck all.
Owners: Alan and Tony Newitt
Trainer: John Mullins, Yarmouth
Breeders: Kevin Drinan, Clohonora, Charleville, Co. Cork
From the kennel which supplied the only back-to-back winner of the Kent Derby (2004-05) in the form of Manera Spark, Move Over Padre aims to provide his trainer John Mullins with a third success in the event. A litter brother of Angel of the North Oaks runner-up Move Over Evie, Clonmel winner Move Over Padre won his first two races in the UK at home track Yarmouth in A2 and A1 before hitting the road. A victory at Sheffield followed, but Sunday night is a first major final for the two-year-old - and a first opportunity from the red jacket. He is also one of two Mullins-trained finalists.
Owners: KSS Syndicate
Trainer: Liz McNair, Central Park
Breeders: KSS Syndicate
One of the favourites for Sundays prize, King Turbo is already this year a winner of two Category One events - Towcester and Monmore’s Gold Cups - and also has the distinction of being Kent-born! He was bred and reared at the Brendan Keogh (KSS Syndicate)-owned kennels of trainer Liz McNair. Considered one of the fastest greyhounds in the UK, King Turbo reached the Scottish Derby semi-finals earlier this year, while finished second to Bruisers Bullet in last year’s Olympic at Hove. A star of the British-bred scene, he also finished third to kennelmate King Elvis in last year’s British Bred Derby at Towcester.
Owners: Evan Herbert
Trainer: Patrick Janssens, Central Park
Breeders: Seamus Leahy, Headford, Co. Galway
The former Pelaw Grange, Doncaster and Sheffield-based runner now represents the ‘home’ challenge for Sunday nights Kent Derby final being trained by Central Park’s Patrick Janssens. A five-time Sheffield winner and three-time Doncaster victor, Headford Johnny made his debut here in August and, while yet to win, got closest in Sunday’s semi-finals when chasing home King Turbo in their contest. Trainer Janssens expects further improvement given his charge took time to settle and he lines up for sundays £7,500 decider hoping to land his handler back-to-back Kent Derbys after Bockos Alfie’s win last year.
Owners: Simon and Tracey Parker
Trainer: Daniel Brabon, Central Park
Breeders: John Tuohy, Thurles, Co. Tipperary
Another locally-trained runner, Trade Fudge is hoping to land his handler Dan Brabon a biggest success. However, has recently went close to striking gold in Category One company with a gallant second to Sporting Dave in the Sussex Cup final at Hove. He lines up Sunday as the only unbeaten runner in the competition, with wins in heats and semi-final being achieved by an aggregate 24-plus lengths! Sunday is sure to be tougher for a dog who has won races at Clonmel and Tralee in Ireland, Hove and here at Central Park, plus contested both the English and Scottish Derbys.
Owner: David Crosby and Keith Parkin
Trainer: John Mullins, Yarmouth
Breeders: Denis Keane, Rathmore, Co. Kerry
Like Move Over Padre, Exiles Gift is hoping to register a third Kent Derby success for his Suffolk-based handler. He lines up as an outsider, although that proved no obstacle in the semi-finals as he won at 50-1! In terms of races run, he has the most experience given two Dundalk contests on an extensive card. A winner of his first three races - all A1 - at Yarmouth last year for former trainer Mike French, Exiles Gift regularly competed at the top level at his home venue. He joined Mullins last year, for whom last week’s success was his first triumph having chased home Crossfield Giles in the heats.
Owner: Kevin Boon
Trainer: Kevin Boon, Yarmouth
Breeders: Jane Craske, Lessingham, Norfolk
Played his part in an extraordinary forecast in the semis when, at odds of 33-1, he finished second to even bigger-priced Exiles Gift. That effort secured this son of Farneys Cookie, another Kevin Boon-trained star, a place in his first major final - but success for Cookie Crossan would not be a first big-priced win for his trainer here. Boon set out outsider Murrys Act to win the 2017 Juvenile Championship and has been known over the years to be more than capable of landing a surprise in major races. The owner-trainer is now a regular at the ‘top table’. Which way will the Cookie crumble Sunday night?
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