Rivals left following the Bear after superb Towcester heat victory

THE final night of round one action in the Star Sports/TRC English Derby proved to be a real League of Nations with Barntick Bear taking time honours with a brilliant 28.68sec (+10) victory in heat 26.

Rivals left following the Bear after superb Towcester heat victory
Connections of Barntick Bear after his superb Saturday Towcester Derby heat victory. Pic: Jim Tate


THE final night of round one action in the Star Sports/TRC English Derby proved to be a real League of Nations with Barntick Bear taking time honours with a brilliant 28.68sec (+10) victory in heat 26.

A fast clock was always on the cards after the strong-running Monmore Puppy Derby second broke well to get in the clear and so it proved as he railed into the lead at the quarter point and powered away for a five lengths victory over Ballymac Gizmo in a time just ten spots outside the record now jointly held by Droopys Clue and King Memphis.

Barntick Bear is trained by Belgian-born Patrick Janssens and England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales could all lay claim to victories as well.

There were five Irish winners on the night highlighted by doubles for Liam Dowling with Ballymac Senan (28.80sec) and Ballymac Slick (29.14sec), and also Pat Buckley who scored with Glengar Martha (28.75sec) and Road Exile (29.14sec).

Buckley will also have been thrilled with the comeback run of his Ballinabola Ed in being beaten just two lengths by Graham Holland's Irish Laurels champion High Trend (29.09sec) although the news was not good with another returnee, Bens Teddy, who was never comfortable and trailed home almost 40 lengths adrift of Ballymac Senan.

Promoter Kevin Boothby enjoyed a double as an owner courtesy of Diane Henry's Clona Curly (29.14sec) and Chris Hamblin's Savana Top Cat (29.20sec), while Richard Rees's fine Derby continued as his Clona Kody held off Jaytee Craze in 29.31sec.

King Combs, trained by the Scottish duo of Liz and Rab McNair, powered to a 28.86sec victory in the nightcap, while rugby union legend Mike Burton sent out Droopys Priority (29.37sec) to score a 14-1 surprise in heat 23 and register a first Derby heat success for Welsh track Valley which joined the GBGB ranks last November.

Two big-name UK casualties on the night were Janssens' 2023 Derby runner-up Romeo Command who was in the wars behind Savana Top Cat, while Tom Heilbron's star Links Maverick did not dominate in King Combs' race and subsequently found multiple troublespots.