Magical turn of foot sees Romeo clinch Star Sports & TRC English Greyhound Derby crown

Romeo Magico became the first British bred winner of the Star Sports & TRC English Greyhound Derby in eight years when scooping the £175,000 first prize on Saturday.

Trained by Graham Holland and owned by greyhound enthusiast Dave Firmager, Romeo Magico beat 9/4 favourite Kildare when stopping the clock at 28.95 seconds – an average speed of 38.63 miles-per-hour.

Outsider of the six-strong field Mickys Barrett finished third while Priceless Jet, Hello Hammond and Savana Beau filled fourth, fifth and sixth respectively.

Despite missing the break, Romeo Magico showed a smart turn of foot leading to turn one before cutting underneath the fast-trapping Mickys Barrett and then Kildare to lead down the backstraight.

The two-year-old extended his lead to a length entering turn three before confirming a one-and-three-quarter length win at the end of 500m.

Trainer Graham Holland said Romeo Magico’s win fulfilled one of his lifetime ambitions.

“It’s fantastic, the pinnacle of my career and something me and my family have always dreamt about,” said Holland. “Romeo ran an amazing race – it was always going to be difficult when he missed the break.

“But a gap appeared at the first bend and he took it like a true champion. Greyhound racing is a unique sport to be involved in – we can’t afford to celebrate a Derby win too much as our dogs always come first.

“We enjoyed a small celebration and Saturday will live in our memories forever.”

Owner Dave Firmager, who bred Romeo Magico, added: “We could’ve never imagined Romeo would win the competition when it started five weeks ago.

“We were full of hope, of course. But he grew into the competition so well. His times from Round Three onwards just got faster.

“He deserves this win, we’re so pleased. It was particularly special to have all my family trackside too – it was a great occasion and a real thrill to breed a greyhound derby winner too.”

Four thousand racegoers attended the prestigious event, the largest crowd Towcester Racecourse has attracted for greyhound racing under the promotion of Managing Director Kevin Boothby.

Mr Boothby – owner of finalist Savana Beau – thanked everyone who contributed to making this year’s English Greyhound Derby a success.

“I’ve not known an atmosphere on English Greyhound Derby Final night equivalent to what we experienced at Towcester for many years,” said Kevin.

“The evening showcased everything that is great about our sport and why Towcester Racecourse is not only a fantastic racing venue but also a standout space for wider events and celebrations locally.

“To everyone in attendance, our hard-working staff, the kennel hands and of course the greyhounds, thank you for making this year’s Derby our best yet. We can’t wait to do it all again next year.”

Photo: Steve Nash.