Express & Star

First big race of year at Monmore Green

Monmore Green get their first Category One Open competition of 2023 under way tonight – while one of their long-serving racers has claimed a prestigious award.

Award-winning greyhound Shelbys Memory with Monmore Green assistant trainer Arran Dunn

The first round of heats in the Ladbrokes Winter Derby this evening will see 36 of the country’s best greyhounds battle it out for a spot in next week’s semi- finals.

Two dogs from each of the six heats will advance to the semis, and then another two will progress from each of those before the £10,000 showpiece on March 4.

“The Ladbrokes Winter Derby was well supported with around 50 entries,” said Monmore Green’s assistant racing manager Jake Pain.

“Two of the ante-post favourites go head-to-head in the first heat which appears to be the toughest heat following the draw.

“Hopes Paddington (Mark Wallis) and Coolavanny Shado (Patrick Janssens) also have the early pace of Bambis Magic (Richard Rees) to contend with on their inside and the favourite, Coolavanny Shado has a tough draw from Trap Four to overcome.

“In heat five, defending Winter Derby champion Burnchurch Mick (Richard Rees) looks set to go well with an ideal draw in Trap One and connections will be hopeful he can defend his crown.

“Overall, it looks like a very interesting competition that I’m looking forward to seeing unfold. Best of luck to all connections.”

The start of the Winter Derby, one of four annual Category Ones at Monmore, comes hot on the heels of veteran Shelbys Memory being named the Racing Post Greyhound TV Greyhound of the Year.

Although he is nearing his fifth birthday, the Arran Dunn-trained dog continues to shine in top graded races and Opens at Monmore and beyond.

Memory has now won 29 of 74 career runs and Richie Taberner, who recently took over the trainers’ licence from Dunn, said: “He’s the king of the kennel and showcases Arran’s talents, keeping the dog at the top of his game.

“Hopefully promoters will look to add more senior category competitions for such evergreen dogs.”

Memory returned to action following a winter break on Thursday night, coming second to the Pat Doocey-trained Longacres Nutty in the last of the night’s 11 races.