EVERYTHING is set at Towcester for tomorrow night’s Star Sports English Greyhound Derby (8.56pm).
Half a dozen greyhounds have battled their way through the trials and are now prepared for a furious 30 second dash to Derby glory.
The big difference this year is that this famous race has shifted 100 miles north-west from Wimbledon to Towcester, where security is hot thanks to the returning Clares Rocket.
Irish-trained Clares Rocket, who lines up from trap 3 tomorrow night, was snatched from its kennel in County Tipperary last December in a dramatic raid that brought back memories of equine star Shergar.
Little over six months later, the dog has now emerged as the favourite to win tomorrow's £350,000 competition and will be hard to beat.
However, he’s now been backed off the boards into 11/10 with the sponsors after last Saturday's emphatic semi-final win and that is just too short in a top-class line-up.
Hiya Butt, a general 4/1 shot, faded late on in last year’s final, and has landed trap one.
He ran a cracker in qualifying after missing the break, but has since improved his trapping technique and should be up with the pace from the word go.
Seamus Cahill fields two finalists at bigger odds and many will be hoping for a fairytale win, with Droopys Acrobat starting in trap two at 12/1.
Given his past race record, there is no reason why he can’t defy his price but he looks up against it here.
The trainer’s second-string is Astute Missile, an admirably consistent dog with solid pace.
He looks overpriced at 33/1 and could well outrun his odds, but unless the market principals get into trouble then Astute Missile may find this a tough ask.
Of course the black and white runner, Clares Rocket, looks the most likely winner having been unbeaten throughout the trials.
A champion in Ireland, he has taken a while to find his feet at Towcester, but is now breaking better and showing more early pace.
If he manages to get to the front it will take a fantastic dog to get past him.
That dog could well be 2/1 shot TYRUR SHAY, though.
Like Clares Rocket, he’s been a name on everybody’s lips since his powerhouse finish in the first round.
He normally breaks modestly and likes to plod around until the crown of the second last bend, positioning himself on the heels of the leaders before swinging out wide and turning on the turbo in the final straight.
In the second round, though, he shocked everyone by scorching out the traps, going around the first bend in front and pulling clear to post the current track record of 28.72 seconds.
Hopefully we get the ideal race with Clares Rocket turning into the straight in front with Tyrur Shay hot on his heels.
The Rocket sees out the trip well, but I'm hoping that Tyrur Shay comes with his usual irresistible withering challenge off the last bend.
Clares Rocket and Tyrur Shay have met twice and it’s all square, but a messy final may see Tyrur Shay come out on top in their third meeting and lift the trophy.
Tony Pring’s 1-2-3
T5 Tyrur Shay
T3 Clares Rocket
T6 Murrays Act
Tickets, priced at £20 for adults, are available to buy now at www.towcester-racecourse.co.uk, while admission for under 16s is free (please note: this is a ticket only event). Hospitality packages including a four-course meal and private bar are available by calling 01327 353414.