Review Of 2008
Well here we are again, the end of another year and wow! what a year! Our kennel has proudly won back the Trainers Championship we last won in 2005 with some 315 open race wins that included the magnificent performance of Centaur Decree in the £13,000 to the winner Ladbrokes Arc Final recording our 15th Category 1 win in four years. 2008 included twelve Category 1 finalists (1 win, 3 seconds, 3 thirds, 1 fourth, 2 fifth, 1 sixth and 1 ko'd,) four Category 2 winners and twenty Category 3 winners + 19 wins on Sky TV which got us up to 985 points for the year, over 200 points clear of our nearest rival Seamus Cahill.
Ourselves and the sport have had to suffer the dramatic loss this year with the closure of Walthamstow Stadium in August and along with the downturn in the economic climate we have survived with our heads held high. Still with all this Greyhound racing has seen some phenomenal stars on the track with the likes of Boherna Best, Lenson Joker, Bubbly Totti and Flying Winner who are all fighting for the Greyhound Of The Year title and with ambitious plans for stadiums like Harlow and Henlow and a new ruling body in the GBGB there is a strong hope that the future of the sport can grow again. As for our kennel, we look forward to a having very successful 2009.
Stride On Babe recorded our first open race win of the year when flying round Harlow in 37.49 (first look) and with plenty of winners in the first couple of weeks the campaign looked to be getting off to a great start but agonisingly the odds on Directors Chair was caught right on the line by Tuftys Purletta in the first big final of the year, the Prestige at Hall Green, and a week later Genesis Dream was also turned over when a warm favourite for the Coronation Cup Final at Romford. Ballymac Under won the first Category 1 of the year, the Birmingham Cup at Perry Barr, giving Matt Dartnall a terrific start after taking over the licence from his father Terry. The BGRB Awards night at the Royal Lancaster was a big success with loads of accolades going to Lorraine Sams (Spiridon Louis) and Nick Savva. We were represented by three runners in the Pepsi Max Final at Walthamstow with Genesis Alix a close up third to Swift Jade.
My first visit to the Clonmel coursing festival at the start of the month was superb and February proved to be a great month for the kennel. Stride On Babe never put a paw wrong in the Greene King Trophy at Harlow winning the final by 7 1/2 lengths from the useful Sherries Boy in a flying 37.49. Tipp The Breeze had a fine Golden Jacket campaign at Crayford but was unluckily knocked over in the final won by Shelbourne Star and Lockdale Diamond was runner up to Drink Up Zorro in the Trafalger Puppy Cup Final at Oxford. Our Seanis Strike was made ante-post favourite for the Ladbrokes Arc at Walthamstow with Centaur Decree rated a 33/1 chance for the £13,000 to the winner event but it was Centaur Decree's finest moment as he flew from the boxes in the final and, running the first two bends brilliantly, he glided to a comfortable but memorable victory by over 5 lengths in a blistering 28.45, the fastest ever time recorded in an Arc final a win that took us to the top of the Trainers Championship standings - a lead we would not relinquish.
Our lead at the top of the Trainers Championship was extended further when Genesis Dream gallantly took the £5,000 to the winner Ladbrokes Spring Festival at Monmore over 630m at the start of the month and as we built up to the Trainers Championship meeting at Wimbledon on the 18th we felt that we were in with a real chance but this game produces plenty of ups and downs and on the night everything that can go wrong went wrong as we finished with no winners and more importantly career threatening injuries to Arc hero Centaur Decree and Butterbridge Ali. Seamus Cahill in contrast had a tremendous night and took the training honours. However the month finished with an excellent win for Aero Blackjack in the NGRC Stewards Cup Final at Walthamstow in a fast 39.38.
While the Scottish Derby was surrounded in controversy, eventually won by Paul Hennessy's Tyrur Kieran, the winners for the kennel were piling in (Genesis Dream win number 11 for the season) but in the big races it was a case of so near and yet so far as we were runner up in both the Grand National with Eye Onthe Flame (neck) to Kildare Lark and the Blue Riband with Commander Chief (ran well) to Farloe Reason. One of the highlights of the month was the return of Pinehurst Silk who came back from a broken wrist in 2007 to return to the winner's rostrum firstly in graded company and then amazingly in an open. Genesis Alix showed her liking for Peterborough when winning the £1,000 to the winner Assured Marathon in great style.
The Blue Square Greyhound Derby kicked off with 140 quality entries and 7 of our 10 entries made it through to the second round and a monster gamble was landed with Commander Chief when he took his heat in style. In between the rounds Directors Chair took the Gerry Allen Quicksilver Trophy at Romford. Disastrous news came on May 16th not only to our kennel but the sport when the Chandler family announced that Walthamstow was to be closed in August but despite being shell shocked both Commander Chief and Seanis Lad made it through to the Derby Semi-Finals but were unlucky when 4th and 6th respectively - a great campaign none the less. Aero Blackjack continued his fine run when taking the £3,000 to the winner Duffy Group Test final at Walthamstow in a brilliant 39.24 calc.
Seamus Graham's Loyal Honcho won what was a fantastic Greyhound Derby and our Scintillas Ruby won a £1,000 bitches race on the supporting card. On a packed evening at Walthamstow for a retired dogs benefit night we had 7 winners in the first 8 races and 8 in all on the night. Our first Summer Kennel party was an excellent day which many owners and friends enjoyed. A busy month on the track saw Bell Tornado do well to finish third in the UK Graphite Puppy final at Walthamstow behind the talented Fear Zafonic. Coolanga Flyer (3rd) and Directors Chair (5th) were outgunned in the Cesarewitch Final at Oxford by Lenson Joker and Eye Onthe Veto who had looked back to his best was knocked over in the semi-final of the valuable Crayford Vase breaking his tail in the process. Eye Onthe Force completed an eight timer over track and trip when landing the 575m Coral Stayers final.
After returning from a superb holiday in Las Vegas it was disappointing to hear that both our Derby Semi-Finalists Commander Chief and Seanis Lad had been sold and were going out of the kennel but better news was that two pups, Eye Onthe Brave and Goldcrest King, had made the important Gymcrack final at Hall Green although they could only play second fiddle to Charlie Lister's Mottos Star. Good news of the impending return to the track of stars Butterbridge Ali and Centaur Decree after serious injuries but tragic news that our lovely greyhound Lockdale Diamond had to be put to sleep after cancer of the bone was diagnosed. Massive crowds were attending Walthamstow with Ricky Holloway leading an SOS (Save Our Stow) campaign that was attracting large media attention. Meanwhile we were preparing for our switch to Harlow with runners in inter-tracks and Directors Chair landed the Phil Isherwood Rose Bowl over 575m at Romford.
Huge crowds gathered on the last few meetings at Walthamstow, sparked up with some furious but peaceful demonstrations from the SOS campaigners and supporters that were allowed onto the track. Eye Onthe Brave finished third in the Puppy Derby at Wimbledon behind the impressive Jesters Nap and Tipp The Breeze (5th) made the Keith Johnson Summer Stayers final at Perry Barr. August 16th will be etched in the memory for ever as this was the extraordinary day when Walthamstow closed its doors for the last time. A capacity crowd witnessed unbelievable scenes the likes we will never see again before, during and after the meeting. A trainers' meeting before racing was called by myself over payments promised but not received which threatened the whole meeting but thankfully was resolved. Butterbridge Ali stormed to a brilliant never to be broken track record of 39.16 ov er 640m and Patsy Canavan an owner and patron of the Stadium for over 40 years took the last race with our Mountjoy Diamond roared on by the massive crowd with thousands pouring on the track itsself after she had crossed the line to say their last goodbye.Centaur Decree also marked an incredible come back from injury when winning an open at Coventry and we also had our first graded runner at Harlow. We ended the month 125 points clear at the top of the Trainers Championship standings.
Directors Chair flew from the lids in the Champion Stakes Final at Romford but had no answers to the flying Lenson Joker and had to settle for the runners up spot and Eye Onthe Veto rolled back the years as he won a supporting 575m in great style. Corrig Vieri was improving at a rapid rate of knots and won the prestigious Peterborough Puppy Cesarewitch worth £1,000 and Centaur Decree completed his impressive come back with a heats and final (£500) win at Coventry. Roswell Startrek came of age when making the £20,000 East Anglian Derby Final at Yarmouth but missed his break in the final but probably wouldn't have got near Charlie Lister's Ninja Jamie who smashed the clock (27.36) en-route to victory enabling Charlie to close the gap to 110 points in the Trainers Championship. We had our first graded runners at Coventry causing plenty of Forum debate about us being graded at two tracks.
Plenty of open race wins in the month and Mountjoy Ruby went in to the British Breeders Forum Final at Hall Green unbeaten but ended a close up 4th in a brilliant final won by Paul Sallis's Bomber Blue. The sport was rocked by the news of Walthamstow and Greyhound Derby winning trainer Gary Baggs' death after a long illness and along with hundreds of other mourners I attended his funeral to pay tribute to this kind man who had so often offered me a word of advice. Corrig Vieri won the Dual Distance final at Coventry and Bell Tornado a second Monkey title at Harlow to stretch our lead at the top of the Trainers Championship although the injury of Directors Chair (broken metatarsal) in a solo trial at Romford was a massive blow.
The All England Cup at Newcastle had been a good event with Eye Onthe Pulse winning his semi-final but an incredible run off for the last qualifying place between our Eye Onthe Brave and Charlie Lister's Afflek Elite (both had dead heated for third place in the other semi) which Eye Onthe Brave won in convincing fashion had seen Charlie's title ambitions come to an end and even though Eye Onthe Brave could only finish third to the awesome Boherna Best and Eye Onthe Pulse went lame we scored valuable points and with Genesis Dream racking up another win on the supporting card we were now holding a near 200 point lead in the Trainers Championship over nearest rival Seamus Cahill. Roswell Startrek won a heat and final (£500) at Coventry in convincing style. Quadruple Category 1 winner Eye Onthe Veto was retired after a brilliant career.
With the title in the bag December was to be a quiet month as we wind down in an effort to get ready for next year's season though it was nice to win a £1,000 final at Monmore's Winter Festival when Directors Ruler ran a blinder to hold off a strong field and with Rhias Beauty taking a Monkey Stayers final as well our lead at the top was maintained. Our last runner of the year Andy Pelley's Droopys Zach obliged in great style at Henlow.
STATISTICS AND AWARDS 2008
MAJOR COMPETITIONS WON IN 2008
Greene King Cup - Harlow - £2,500 - STRIDE ON BABE
Ladbrokes Arc - Walthamstow - £13,000 - CENTAUR DECREE
Spring Festival - Monmore - £5,000 - GENESIS DREAM
NGRC Stewards Cup - Walthamstow - £2,500 - AERO BLACKJACK
Assured Marathon - Peterborough - £1,000 - GENESIS ALIX
Quicksilver Stakes - Romford - £750 - DIRECTORS CHAIR
Duffy Group Test - Walthamstow - £3,000 - AERO BLACKJACK
Coral Stayers Final - Romford - £750 - EYE ONTHE FORCE
Rose Bowl Final - Romford - £750 - DIRECTORS CHAIR
Puppy Cesarewitch - Peterborough - £1,000 - CORRIG VIERI
Winter Festival - Monmore - £1,000 - DIRECTORS RULER
MOST WINS IN 2008
1st - GENESIS DREAM - 18 Wins
2nd - BELL TORNADO - 16
3rd - GENESIS SISTER - 14
WEBSITE GREYHOUND OF THE YEAR
OPEN RACER - GENESIS DREAM
GRADED - NOTANOTHERSECOND
WEBSITE TOP PERFORMANCE OF 2008
CENTAUR DECREE ( 28.45 Arc Final 26th February)
WEBSITE MOST PERFORMANCES OF THE WEEK
- GENESIS DREAM - 4
- DIRECTORS CHAIR - 4
- STRIDE ON BABE - 4
- GENESIS ALIX - 3
- TIPP THE BREEZE - 3
- CENTAUR DECREE - 3
- EYE ONTHE VETO - 3
WEBSITE FIVE TO FOLLOW COMPETITION WINNER
Gavs Dream Team (Gavin Cheeseman) 197 points
WEBSITE FIVE TO FOLLOW COMPETITION TOP SCORING DOGS
1st - BELL TORNADO - 62 points
2nd - DIRECTORS RULER - 55
3rd - AERO RAPIDO - 53
4th - ACCORDION MAGIC - 44
and - LEWS TRICKSTER - 44
KENNEL STAFF FIVETO FOLLOW WINNER
1st - SID HUETT - 177 points
2nd - MARK WALLIS - 169
3rd - MICK LICENCE - 148