Aero Sacundai is the final Monmore hope for the Winter Derby
Aero Sacundai is the sole dog still flying the flag for Monmore Green having made it through to the semi-finals of the Ladbrokes Winter Derby.
A top-quality first round of heats at Monmore this past Saturday lunchtime saw the field halved as Sacundai – trained by Richie Taberner – was the only one of the competition’s five home greyhounds making it through.
Sacundai led all the way to the third bend in the sixth heat before slowing slightly and being usurped by King Sydney of Elizabeth McNair (Central Park), who had three winners on the day with Queen Joni and King Capaldi also putting in impressive displays.
Sacundai has now drawn trap four next weekend in semi-final three which sees top performers Joni and Capaldi run from trap one and two respectively.
Assistant trainer Jo Slater said: “He slowed a little bit coming home but flew out of the traps to the first bend and led for a lot of the race.
“The track was a bit slow on Saturday and he’s still getting used to four bends, so all in all we’re happy with how he did. It was a good run all things considered.
“He’s got trap four for the semi-finals but we’re not too worried about that. He’s got the pace to get to the first bend, so fingers crossed he traps well and can get a clear run.
“He showed form out of the middle box a couple of races ago, coming out of trap three. He looked comfortable being able to get to his rails with his pace up to the first bend, which he’s all about, so we’re excited to see how he does in the semi-finals.”
Queen Joni clocked the quickest time of the day in the fourth heat – arguably the strongest race on paper – in 28.36 seconds.
The first heat saw wide runner Burj Khalifa (Diane Henry, Towcester) march to success, showing fine early pace before eventually beating Whyaye Man (Mark Wallis) and Queen Georgia (McNair).
Bogger Rambo (Tom Heilbron, Newcastle) enjoyed an impressive five-and-a-half length win in the second heat ahead of Get Up Me Boy and Betsys Bullet (both trained by Hove’s Belinda Green).
Skywalker Pele (Ted Soppitt, Newcastle) took the spoils in heat three before Queen Joni’s sublime showing in heat four, bursting out of the boxes from trap one and leading all the way to lay down a marker going into next week’s semis.
Not to be outshone by his kennelmate, King Capaldi also gained the advantage at the first bend and grabbed the victory in heat five.
The sixth and final heat was won by King Sydney as Sacundai and Drive On Lad (Rees) finished second and third to claim semi-final spots.