There was a shock winner as a packed Towcester Racecourse staged the prestigious Star Sports Greyhound Derby for the first time on Saturday night.
Irish entry Clares Rocket was the red-hot favourite to land the big £175,000 prize, but it was outsider Astute Missile that claimed he victory over 500 metres.
Running from trap four, Astute Missile was a 28/1 shot, and became the longest-priced winner in the history of the Greyhound Derby, which has found a new home at Towcester following the closure of its traditional home in Wimbledon.
The dog is trained by Kent-based Seamus Cahill, and had qualified for the big final without claiming a victory in any of the five stages leading up to qualification for the final of the competition.
But he delivered when it mattered, seeing off the strong challenge of runner-up Tyur Shay, with Clares Rocket in third.
“I can’t believe he finally trapped like we knew he could,” Astute Missile’s part-owner Geoff Hill told sportinglife.com
“He’s such a strong dog that I knew he had to be in with a big chance as soon as he got out like that. He’s a real battler.
“I used to own greyhounds at Walthamstow and I got out of the game when that track closed, but Seamus persuaded me to have a dog with him again and I tell you I’m back now, big time!”
In the race itself, by the third bend, 9/2 shot Hiya Butt was in front from trap one, but Astute Missile charged up his inside to lead turning for home.
Tyrur Shay in trap five was closing in from behind and victory looked almost assured for the track-record holder, but he swung wide coming off the final bend and his chance was gone.
Clares Rocket never led the race, and finished more than five lengths behind the winner.
Astute Missile wasn’t Cahill’s only success of he night, as earlier Ballymac Mannix also claimed victory for him in the Star Sports Champion Hurdle, while other big priced winners included Russelena Reggie at 10/1 in the Star Spors Derby Stayers, Goldies Seb at 10/1 in the Star Sports Super Eight Stayers, and Calico Ranger at 8/1 in the Mandy McArthur Youngsters race.
The night was a big success for Towcester Racecourse, with a huge crowd turning out for the 14-race meeting, which also saw DJ Jo Whiley perform a DJ set, and live bands performing for the spectators.
The Star Sports Greyhound Derby will be staged at Towcester for the next four years, and Towcester chief executive Kevin Ackerman said: “Staging the Greyhound Derby is a huge honour for Towcester.
“When we first opened the track in 2014 we said we wanted to be the best in Britain – three years on we’re holding the biggest race in the world.”