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

Blackrose Pippa suffered a surprise elimination from the bet365 Empress Stakes at Towcester on Sunday after blowing the start.

It left local trainer Frank Gray to enjoy a one-two in the semi-final heat, while ante-post jolly Fabulous Azurra had to battle to qualify from her heat.

Inside switch proved the undoing of Pippa

Eric Cantillon's Blackrose Pippa lined up as the odds-on favourite in the first of Sunday's bet365 Empress Stakes semi-finals at Towcester, but, as we so often see at the Northamptonshire venue, switching from a middle draw to the inside massively hindered her and she was eliminated.

After dominating from the front in her heat and quarter-final, she was expected to again be on the front foot, but once she was tardy from the boxes, she was in trouble.

Instead, it was the outsider and local hope Makeit Beauty who marginally saw off kennelmate Makeit Bombay to provide Frank Gray with a one-two in the contest.

The speedy daughter of Droopys Sydney bounced out from trap six and led early before being joined at the third turn.

However, she dug deep to come home a short-head in front and has progressed nicely after starting out her career in graded company over the 500m trip.

Waz leads the way again

Frank Gray's Makeit For Waz made it back-to-back semi-final successes for her local handler in fine style and continued her unbeaten run in the £10,000 bet365 Empress Stakes.

She produced another fast start and another flawless display in the blue jacket of trap two, the Feb 20' whelp scorched the Northamptonshire sand in 29.14sec - the fastest time of the day in Towcester.

A classy and versatile lady who lit up the opening rounds of the Derby over the 500m trip in the summer, she was made to dig deep in her quarter-final and proved that the early lead is not essential to her claims.

Ante-post jolly Fabulous Azurra was out-trapped and faced an uphill battle to qualify but did so back in third.

Juvenile Classic finalist Droopys Optimal rattled home to bag the silver medal and continues to shape with promise, her qualification provided handler Eric Cantillon with some tonic after his well-fancied Blackrose Pippa suffered shock elimination in the first semi-final.

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Huge weekend ahead

There is plenty of big race action this weekend on both sides of the Irish Sea.

The most lucrative race comes on Saturday night at Shelbourne Park and is the €125,000 Irish Derby final, with Owen McKenna's well-drawn railer Callaway Pro Am likely to go off favourite in the red jacket of trap one.

The Irish Classic is a competitive affair, with powerhouse Crafty Kokoro a must-bet for forecast and tricast punters, while early pacer Born Warrior will no doubt prove popular with punters and looks likely to lead in the early stages - but will he last home?

On Sunday afternoon, the £10,000 bet365 Empress Stakes final takes place at Towcester and for the first time in the competition Patrick Janssens' BGBF British Bred Derby champion will line up with a rival ahead of her in the betting.

A switch to trap three may change her fortunes, but she will need to be on her toes with the irrepressible Makeit For Waz drawn on her inside in trap one.

Trap draw for the bet365 Empress Stakes final (Towcester, Sunday 25th September 16:08, live on Sports Live Streaming) – 1: Forest Roanna (14/1), 2: Makeit For Waz (1/1), 3: Fabulous Azurra (9/4), 4: Makeit Bombay (10/1), 5 Droopys Optimal (m) (6/1), 6: Makeit Beauty (w) (14/1).

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