History could be made at Newcastle Stadium on Thursday night when Tom Heilbron bids to become the first trainer to land an Arena Racing Company Northern Puppy Derby hat-trick.
The Trimdon handler first won the north-east’s premier puppy competition in 2022 with Freedom Alibi before kennel star Links Maverick made it a competition double exactly 12 months ago.
Now, rising star Omuircheartaigh is Tom’s sole representative in Thursday’s £12,500 Grand Final. And victory would re-write the records books as no trainer has ever won the competition three times in a row in its 30-year history.
The April ’22 dog, which is owned by the Fomo Five Syndicate, enters the final with every chance having won both of his qualifying races – and Tom believes his greyhound may still have more to give when it counts most.
“We’re so happy with his progress since the competition started,” said Heilbron. “We’ve got a good draw in trap three, and Thursday’s race could be all about the start.
“I do believe whichever greyhound makes the first bend in front will win – and Omuircheartaigh needs to do just that.
“It’s a huge achievement just to reach a Category One final. So, to win this trophy three times in a row would be massive for the kennel and everyone at home. It’s a big week for the team with last year’s champion Links Maverick running in the Winter Derby final at Monmore too where we’re hopeful of another big run.”
The north-east will also be represented in trap one with Jimmy Fenwick’s Coppice Saphire running for owner Tony Brealey.
It would be a family occasion should Coppice Saphire finish the race with her nose in front. Trainer Jimmy is supported by wife and assistant trainer Mel with daughters Hannah and Lauren plus son Callum working full-time as kennel hands at the family’s Ashington home.
“It’s a really open final,” said Jimmy. “Our girl has performed well in her heat and semi-final to reach this stage.
“The draw has worked out well for us as there’s a lot of early pace on the card so getting a good position early will be key. I think the winner could come from anywhere though, which shows how competitive the competition is.”
Also featuring in Thursday’s final is Diane Henry’s Clona Curly and Coppice Ella who will represent Cotswolds trainer Kevin Hutton. Essex-based Maxine Locke will make the long journey from the south-east too with Droopys Eunice and Droopys Display.
Tickets plus trackside packages and restaurant reservations for the Arena Racing Company Northern Puppy Derby can be booked via the Newcastle Stadium website now. Doors open at 6pm, with the first race of the night due off at 6.38pm. The Northern Puppy Derby final is scheduled for 8.44pm.
Arena Racing Company Northern Puppy Derby draw: Coppice Saphire, Droopys Eunice, Omuircheartaigh, Clona Curly, Droopys Display, Coppice Ella.