The Greyhound Derby is the most prestigious, and richest, race in the Greyhound racing calendar. Established in 1927, the action returns to Towcester this year – beginning next month. The final is to be held on Saturday 10th July, and already, fans can find the early odds via online exchanges, such as Betdaq.
In the history of the Derby, Charlie Lister is the most successful trainer – having won the event a record seven times. But there is also an elite list of dogs who have won the Derby more than once. Let’s take a look at the names of the history makers.
Mick the Miller
Mick the Miller ran a total of 81 races in his career, winning 61 of them. He was best known for winning the Derby in successive years: 1929 and 1930. Sadly, he was unable to make it a hat-trick of victories, after suffering an injury in a trial at Wimbledon, that he was never able to completely recover from.
Going into the 1931 Derby as the favourite, Mick the Miller suffered shock defeats in the eleventh heat to Mick’s Fancy and Ryland R – and he faced the latter in both the semi-finals and final. The final had to be re-run due to disqualification to Ryland R, but Mick was never in contention.
However, after retirement, his legacy lived on – an enclosure was named after the brindle at Wimbledon Stadium – and his Derby record lasted for over 40 years, before being equalled.
Winner of the 1972 ‘Greyhound of the Year’, Patricias Hope had a very successful season. He won the Triple Crown and is one of three greyhounds to do so. After winning the 1972 English Derby, he went on to win the equivalent races in Scotland and Wales – and was then sent to stud.
He returned from stud the following year, and held onto his Derby crown, winning the final at White City. Patricias Hope wasn’t the favourite, but took the lead after the first bend and held on, in what was a thrilling finale – winning by half a length and becoming the first greyhound to emulate Mick the Miller’s success.
After failing to secure a third Derby title, he was retired to stud.
After placing third at the Scottish Greyhound Derby in 2000, Rapid Ranger returned to Wimbledon (where he had made his debut as a juvenile) to take part in the English Derby. Despite being defeated in the second round, he went on to qualify for the final and beat Rackethall Jet by three and a half lengths. His owner, Ray White refused to retire him and send the brindle to stud, in order to become the first greyhound of his generation to secure multiple Derby victories.
In 2001, Rapid Ranger was re-entered into the Derby, and was beaten in both the first round and quarter-finals – yet still qualified for the final. Leading from the start, he beat the pre-race favourite Sonic Flight, and secured back-to-back Derby wins.
The brindle was retired, although White brought him back for the 2002 Derby, where Rapid Ranger suffered an early exit in the third round.
Comparisons have been made between Westmead Hawk and Mick the Miller, and the former is the most recent greyhound to win multiple Derby races. He first entered in 2005, and was the favourite going into the final. After lagging behind the leaders at the first bend, a change in pace saw him come from behind to overtake the leader, Blonde Mac and win the race in a time of 28.56 seconds.
The following year, Westmead Hawk was undefeated all the way through the five qualifying rounds and once again was the pre-race favourite. Like the previous year, he was off the pace in the race’s early stages, before closing in on the leader, Mineola Farloe to win by three-quarters of a length. Less than a month after the victory, the black broke his hock and was forced to retire to stud – and so was never unable to bid for a Derby treble.
Prior to the injury, Chairman of the British Greyhound Racing Board, Lord David Lipsey said of Westmead Hawk:
“Westmead Hawk is doing more to encourage people to come racing than anything us humans could do! He is a canine Red Rum.”