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Greyhounds - Racing: Dave Clark's weekend round-up

Despite tasting defeat in her quarter-final and semi-final, Patrick Janssens' Fabulous Azurra was paw-perfect in the £10,000 bet365 Empress Stakes final at Towcester on Sunday afternoon.

The BGBF British Bred Derby and Oaks Cup champion added another big title to her name with a superb trap-to-line success.

Azurra reigns supreme in Empress Stakes decider

Breaking smartly from trap three, this British-bred lady was quickly in command and scorched the Northampton sand in 29.19sec.

Clearing favourite Makeit For Waz at the first bend was essential to her claims and she produced the start required.
Litter sister to English Derby champion Romeo Magico, her Belgian handler will now aim his star lady at the upcoming Oaks at Perry Barr.

Early pace wins the race in the Irish Derby final

On Saturday night, Shelbourne Park hosted the biggest race of the year in Irish greyhound racing, the €125,000 Irish Greyhound Derby final.

Owen McKenna was chasing back-to-back Derby victories after the success of Susie Sapphire last year. He sent out the well-drawn favourite Callaway Pro Am - who raced in the red jacket of trap one as the sole undefeated finalist.

However, it was the early speed of Jennifer O'Donnell's Born Warrior that proved the difference in a messy contest.

Able to assert into the first turn, O'Donnell's speedster escaped the crowding, behind and slipped clear down the back.

Liam Dowling's Ballymac Finn broke free from the pack and gave chase into the third bend, he closed markedly off the last bend and joined Born Warrior near the line, before the early leader rallied to score by half a length.

Corn Cuchulainn champion and superstar stayer Crafty Kokoro proved popular with punters and no doubt would've featured in plenty of forecasts and tricasts.

She was crowded at both the first and third bend before powering home and went down as an unlucky loser back in third.

Rex should be on Derby punters' radar

We are a long way out from the 2023 English Greyhound Derby, but the sensational display from Graham Holland's Swords Rex on Derby final night at Shelbourne Park was a notable return to form and showcased his top-class ability.

Winner of the lucrative and prestigious Kirby Memorial earlier this year, which is a target for every top pup in Ireland, this early pace railer is yet to race in the UK but is a certainty to be crossing the Irish Sea next year for a Derby campaign at Towcester.

Holland landed his first English Derby this year with Romeo Magico and sends a classy team over every year.

There aren't many ahead of Swords Rex in the antepost market, who is currently available to back at 33/1. In six months time there's a good chance he will be heading the market and long-term antepost punters should take note!

Puppy Cup draw points to lady in red

The £10,000 Puppy Cup final headlines a star-studded card at Romford on Friday night live on Racing Post Greyhound TV.

Local handler Dave Mullins is chasing a third consecutive puppy crown after the victories of Tenpin (2020) and Brookside Richie (2021) and holds a strong hand in the 400m contest sending out half of the field.

However, Liz McNair's Queen Pink was the most impressive semi-final winner last Friday night when coming from off the speed.

McNair's British-bred star has raced over 480m and 500m and showed her stamina when swooping late and showed the early lead is not essential to her claims.

Tucked away on the inside, she is expected to defend her inside pitch before proving too good.

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