Review Of 2011
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REVIEW OF THE YEAR 2011
After losing so much racing due to the bad weather in December it was always going to be a slow start to 2011 with many of our strength having trials to get fit including 29 at Yarmouth in the second week of January. Kinda Close was our first open race winner of the year when landing a Bitches 400m race at Romford and Aero Bolt made a winning debut over the Hurdles in a Springbok Trial Stake at Wimbledon. Our first Sky winners came courtesy of a double at Hall Green with Risky Wand landing a sprint and Ayamzagirl winning the Marathon.
At Romford the following week again on Sky Ayamzagirl was then involved in one of most dramatic moments of 2011 where in a 925m open she was one of three runners that triple dead heated in an incredible finish. The story gathered momentum over the next few days resulting in some major National publicity and our sport was quick to enhance this when fixing a rematch between the three involved 10 days later over the same track and trip and called the 'Bring It On Challenge'. The rematch itself was a bit of an anti climax as Jim Daly's Droopys Djokovic won quite comfortably but the massive exposure for the sport was a huge success.
The Annual GBGB Awards night held at the plush Park Plaza Riverbank Hotel was brilliant as usual although we didn't pick up any awards ourselves SOS (save our stow) led by Rick Holloway and Linda Jones did win the Services To The Industry award. GOBATA (Greyhound Owners Breeders and Trainers Association) held a few committee meetings in an attempt to find ways of rejuvenating the sport but the lack of recognition for the association from the GBGB was frustrating.
With the weather easing the wrappers came off some of our top class runners with Blonde Fletch, Blonde Snapper, Dalcash Scolari and Kinda Ready all having trials back. One of our most promising youngsters Mountjoy Moon looked to have a warm sky Puppy open at Wimbledon in the bag when leading by 2 lengths rounding the last two bends but for some incredible reason she veered off to the hare rail and virtually stopped before running on again to finish second. Replays showed afterwards that one of the sponsors banners on the outside wall was loose and it had distracted her, very unlucky especially when we were all on at 9/2 in the morning!! A week later more controversy when in a supporting race at Crayford on Golden Jacket morning Ayamzagirl came from an impossible position to catch long time leader Capel Yankee only to lunge at Tony Gifkins' runner right on the line giving the stewards no alternative but to disqualify her. Crayford had not gone well that day with both Goldies Destiny and Eye Onthe Tempo just touched off in the final of the valuable Peter Bussey Memorial Trophy.
Better news later in the month when near veteran Bourne Masons landed our first competition of the year when winning the Coral On TV Stayers final at Romford and Blonde Fletch won his first extended stayers race at Monmore over 630m by 8 lengths. The new GBGB Trainers Championship table updated on their website www.gbgb.org.uk on a regular basis had us sitting at the top with Matt Dartnall in second place. Daren Johnson announced that he was to do a mammoth charity run from John o Groats to Lands End in April under the giveabitback name benefiting both retired dogs and Help For Heroes.
This is the month that is now all centred around the annual Betfair Trainers Championship meeting and kicks off at the start with the Luncheon, this year held at the lovely Cannizaro House Hotel near Wimbledon, venue for this year's Championship. Myself and guest Daren Johnson enjoyed a superb day and Daren with lees than a month to go before his epic John O Groats to Lands End run enjoyed a break from training to attend the function.
Our winners on the track were now ticking over nicely with Blonde Fletch and Kinda Ready, who was unlucky when second from a poor draw in the Betfred Standard Trophy final at Nottingham, all in good form. Bourne Masons landed his second competition another Coral On TV stayers event worth £750. Mountjoy Moon had to miss the Monmore Puppy Derby (split pad though she did have time to recover to be able to go into our Championship team) leaving us without any runners in the event for the first time in many years and the final was won well by Sky's Gary Newbon owned Droopys Greg.
The Betfair Trainers Championship meeting turned out to be an absolute cracker at Wimbledon and though we never had a winner Eye Onthe Tempo, Kinda Easy and Blonde Snapper were all second with Mountjoy Moon, Risky Wand and Blonde Fletch all third and we were still in with a shout going into the last race along with three other trainers Charlie Lister, Chris Allsopp and Pat Rosney. Again our representative Destroy The Camp ran a blinder but could only finish second to Charlie Lister's Boher Paddy giving Charlie overall victory with ourselves a creditable third.
Dalcash Scolari was unluckily knocked out of the Arc at Swindon at the semi-final stage but won well on the final supporting card on Sky. SOS were continuing their battle to reopen Walthamstow and were putting severe pressure on London and Quadrant as they held a series of consultation meetings in the borough.
A great start to the month with Blonde Fletch victorious in the Queen Mother Memorial Trophy at Sheffield over 665m. Daren Johnson began his quest to run a marathon everyday for charity but hit problems after a few days in Scotland with some crippling feet and leg injuries putting the project in serious doubt.
We had mixed results in both the Golden Sprint at Romford and the Blue Riband at Hall Green and eventually did not get one through to the finals with chief rival in the Championship race Chris Allsopp landing the Blue Riband with Express Shuttle while Ayamzagirl returned from successful clearing trials to land a supporting marathon and Mountjoy Moon was impressive when winning a Puppy Open in a fast 28.08.
Daren Johnson bravely battled on in his quest having to resort to using his mountain bike and he eventually arrived at Lands End on schedule with live pictures coming from Sky's meeting at Peterborough raising many thousands for the RGT and Help For Heroes.
Lil Risky got his career at Imperial Kennels off to the best of starts when landing the heats and final of the Coral On TV Maiden 400m at Romford in great style.
As always an exceptionally busy month with the main focus being on the start of the William Hill Derby where we had 10 entries from our kennel. Disappointment at the start of the month when Mountjoy Moon was disqualified after fighting in a puppy open on Sky at Sittingbourne where Ayamzagirl had also missed out in a place in the TV Trophy final eliminated at the semi-final stage.
Meanwhile there was good news from in form Blonde Fletch as he marched into the Category 1 Coral Regency final unbeaten, the race looked his for the taking but he was slow to stride and looked in trouble as they approached the third bend but fortunately the gaps began to open and Blonde Fletch ran on well to score and lift the superb trophy giving our kennel a long overdue success in a Category 1 event. To highlight the ups and downs of Greyhound racing Mark Currell, owner of Blonde Fletch, then saw his Derby prospect Blonde Snapper, who was as low as 12/1 for the event, crash out at the first round stage. In all only 4 of our 10 entries made it through to round 2.
A sad time as well as 2009 Derby Champion Kinda Ready and litter brother Kinda Easy our St Leger winner were both retired from racing.
The Tony Morris Memorial Trophy for unraced pups got off to a good start at Wimbledon and Mountjoy Comet won both heat and semi-final in good fashion.
The second round of the Derby saw three of a four qualify with Jazz Apollo most impressive when scoring in 28.42. Destroy The Camp and Bellers Bud also qualified. Lil Risky, looking a fine prospect, followed up his Maiden competition win at Romford with a scorching victory in the Coral On TV Puppy final in good style breaking the 24.00 barier. The third round of the Derby saw Destroy The Camp bounce back to his best landing his race by over 5 lengths in 28.53 although Jazz Apollo was a touch unlucky when eliminated in 4th. Also Bellers Bud caused a surprise when winning his 3rd round heat in 28.79 to complete a roller coaster of a month for the kennel.
The latter stages of the Derby were in full swing at the start of the month and we were delighted to get both Destroy The Camp and Bellers Bud, a surprise package for Dick and Ann Barfoot, through to the semi-finals although they just didn't quite have the luck when it mattered to make the final it was a great effort nonetheless. On Derby Final night it was brilliant to see Mountjoy Comet win the Tony Morris Memorial Trophy worth £6,000 and the emerging talent of Jazz Apollo won the British Bred race for the second year running for the kennel after Jogadusc Ace's victory in 2010. Congratulations to Charlie Lister in winning his 5th Derby with Taylors Sky for owners Steve and Becki Taylor.
Blonde Fletch continued to head the Stayers division and he could be forgiven when only runner up in the Ladbrokes Summer Classic behind Chris Allsopp's Head Iton Jason and now with Charlie Lister's Derby win and Chris Allsopps Summer Classic win and subsequent Pall Mall win with Brittons Empire we found ourselves in 3rd place in the Trainers Championship standings with the three of us pulling well clear of all the other trainers. Our sport mourned the loss of one of it's greatest characters Albert Draper and it was a massive tonic for all to see Barry and Trevor Draper unearth the talent of Eden Star undoubtedly the 'Newcomer Of The Year'.
Prominent MP Ian Duncan Smith was heavily involved in the pressure that was being put on L&Q to sell Walthamstow Stadium to Bob Morton in order for a return of Greyhound racing to the iconic site as SOS stepped up their campaign.
On the track Jazz Apollo was a touch unlucky when 5th in the Olympic at Hove and Lil Risky enhanced his growing reputation with a third competition victory at Romford when landing the Coral On TV Standard. Blonde Fletch and Blonde Snapper both got their William Hill Festival competitions off to a good start at Sunderland taking their heats in good style.
Undoubtedly the highlight of the year came this month at Sunderland when Blonde Snapper and Blonde Fletch pulled off a remarkable double when landing both big races in the William Hill Festival of racing. Firstly Blonde Fletch in an exciting climax held off Bower Hawk to take the William Hill Grand Prix worth £15,000 to the winner and in the very next race Blonde Snapper broke the track record when victorious in the William Hill Classic worth a whopping £25,000. The celebrations for both myself and owner Mark Currell afterwards were a sense of joyous relief and pleasure! Sky as usual captured these great moments for us in brilliant style and a long journey back was made very short!
Our popular 5 To Follow competition got underway and both Mountjoy Comet and Mountjoy Orion made it through to the semi-finals of the Swindon Produce Stakes but couldn't quite make the final.
Later in the month I did an in depth interview for the Racing Post with Phil Donaldson that featured our latest victories and also highlighted the tough economic recession that was affecting not just our kennel but the sport as a whole.
On the track Jazz Apollo broke the track record at Sittingbourne with a flying 28.72, the fourth time in 18 months one of our dogs had broken this and Sulphur Spring landed a heat of the Puppy Derby while Aero Majestic stepped up to six bends looked very promising when winning the final of the Bookmakers Stayers at Sittingbourne to complete an excellent month for the kennel and we sat proudly at the top of the Trainers Championship wit a 100 point lead.
The month got off to the best possible start when Blonde Fletch landed the Betfred Select Stayers at Nottingham worth £2,500 but Blonde Snapper found the tough 500m too stiff when 5th in the Select Stakes. Disappointments when Sulphur Spring was knocked out of the Puppy Derby semi's at Wimbledon, where Eden Star took the outright honours, and Blonde Snapper also crashed out of the Kent Derby semi-final at Sittingbourne but Jazz Apollo just crept into the final when 3rd in his semi-final.
Daren Johnson's giveabitback charity football match at Dulwich Hamlet FC saw my team keep its six year unbeaten run when beating Daren's super vets side 4-1 in a great day. Our website was slightly revamped with a new Syndicate page as well as other new features and now we have our own facebook page on markwallisgreyhounds and I am getting used to using my twitter account on @wallis_mark. All these are useful tools to keep up with growing technology!
Sad news that our former kennel star and four time Category 1 winner Kinda Magic passed away from old age while on the track two pleasing results made August a real success.
Firstly Adageo came back from serious injury to land the Coral On TV Stayers final at Romford and in one of the most sensational finishes of the year Jazz Apollo came from nowhere to win the John Smiths Kent Derby at Sittingbourne a brilliant win but what a cock up with the prize money - apparently only a few quid short to class the event a Category 1, which it had always previously been, we only scored 20 points for the Trainers Championship because it was classed a Category 2 competition instead of 50 points for a Category 1 and if you look at the final standings you can see why I'm now fuming!! Charlie Lister and Chris Allsopp had a great August and despite our excellent month they both closed the gap on us considerably.
A mammoth month of open racing with started with eliminations for Jazz Apollo and Rockburst Lenny at the semi-final stage of the Champion Stakes at Romford eventually won by Jimmy Wright's ill fated Droopys Hestor while on the night Lil Risky took his 4th competition at Romford when winning the Champions Night Standard Final.
Charlie Lister and Chris Allsopp were dominating the East Anglian Derby at Yarmouth but Rookery Pedro was our surprise package and ran well to win his semi-final but had to settle for third place in the final behind Ballymac Ace which again took Chris Allsopp past us in the Trainers Championship standings. Still at Yarmouth Blonde Fletch looked in a different league winning the Derby Purse final over 659m in a fast 40.31. Made favourite for the St Leger starting three days later Blonde Fletch won his heat but was a shock elimination at the second round stage in which the unexposed Aero Majestic put himself in the picture after winning his second round heat. Aero Majestic then scrambled into the final when third in his semi-final.
Meanwhile we were out of luck in the Romford Puppy Cup where Barry Draper's flying Eden Star took the final in track record time. Munster Champ landed another heats and final at Romford for the kennel when winning the Coral On TV Stayers final but Dalcash Scolari bravely failed in his attempt to land back to back Silver Salvers when 4th in the final. Promising puppy New Phase won a Northern Puppy Derby trial stake well but was unluckily knocked out in the first round.
Aero Majestic got October off to the best possible start winning the William Hill St Leger at Wimbledon in brilliant style. Showing stunning early and middle pace he quickly spreadeagled the field and though his lead was reduced near the end by the strong running Capoley Ash he crossed the line to win by over 2 lengths in a fast 40.65. This was a second St Leger victory for the kennel in two years after Kinda Easy won in 2009.
The following week was a disaster with Jazz Apollo a warm favourite to land the £15,000 to the winner British Bred Produce Stakes at Nottingham getting no sort of run and stumbling when challenging for second place at the third bend he eventually finished fourth to Paul Sallis's Go Go Sonic. Two nights later Kinda True was a well beaten 6th in the Northern Puppy Derby at Newcastle and we suffered the sad loss to promising Puppy New Phase in a supporting race.
It was a hard time and later in the month I faced a GBGB inquiry into a positive drugs test, the first our kennel had ever received but thankfully justice prevailed and I was completely exonerated from any wrong doing, still very stressful all the same.
The month ended on a bright note when Blonde Snapper was a brilliant runner up to Derby winner Taylors Sky in the Henlow Derby in a thrilling race. A treble on the supporting Sky card was much needed and with Chris Allsopp having winners everywhere our lead in the Trainers Championship was only three points.
Blonde Fletch was forced to miss the Doncaster St Leger with injury while our other staying star Aero Majestic was re-routed to the Cesarewitch at Oxford where he was a beaten favourite in the final.
The much talked about Betdaq GOBATA 'Premier League' staged its first qualifier live on Sky supporting the Doncaster St Leger final. In an exciting finish 'Team North East' and 'The Mad Hatters' qualified for the Premier League itself while Charlie Lister's Lonely Boy won the St Leger. The Premier League had its critics but no doubt it sparked the GBGB into some action and they quickly announced that £150,000 was being put into a Bags/Begs 'Intertrack' competition and the extra money found was most welcome for the sport. The Trainers Championship was getting close between ourselves and Chris Allsopp and we were both looking over our shoulder with Charlie Lister creeping ever closer.
Jazz Apollo stole the show in the opening round of the Betfred Eclipse at Nottingham but in a dramatic twist he was desperate not to qualify from his semi-final after severe trouble and the emergence of the young, talented Kelly Macari was evident as Mill Bling Bling won the final in great style. November should have been a good month for us but nothing seemed to go right and we found ourselves chasing in the title race and were now a few points behind though Mountjoy Osprey was beginning to show enormous promise and won the Coral On TV Puppy final at Romford to give us some hope.
An intriuging last month. Charlie Lister captured the Oaks with Silverview Perky to move briefly into the lead in the Trainers Championship but a win for Brittons Empire in the Jem Racing Super Paws saw Chris Allsopp regain the lead. With both trainers strongly represented in the Ladbrokes Monmore Festival we expected to find ourselves out of the race but Blonde Fletch though second qualified for the final and with a plum trap 1 slot looked assured of giving us some decent points.
Lil Risky also took his heat of the National Sprint at Nottingham by 9 lengths and then in a rollercoaster Friday we had to withdraw Blonde Fletch from the Stayers final in the Ladbrokes Festival at Monmore after a hock injury but both Chris and Charlie's dogs failed to take advantage and when Aero Majestic won his semi-final of the Essex Vase at Romford by 9 lengths in a fast 35.13 which was the last remaining Category 1 event of the year the title looked there for the taking again.
The following week again it went all wrong. At Nottingham in the National Sprint semi's Lil Risky was taken out of the race when a dog went straight on at the bend and took Lil Risky with him when he was in a great position and Aero Majestic was bumped from pillar to post trying to get a run in the Essex Vase final eventually won well by Westmead Maldini and could only finish 4th. This meant our title dreams were all but over for another year. At least we finished the year on a high note as we landed a treble at Henlow in between Christmas and New Year with Rockburst Lenny our last open race winner of the year.
MAJOR COMPETITIONS WON IN 2011
Category 3 (February) - Coral On TV Stayers - £750 - Romford - BOURNE MASONS
Category 3 (March) - Coral On TV Stayers - £750 - Romford - BOURNE MASONS
Category 3 (April) - Queen Mother Memorial Trophy - £2500 - Sheffield - BLONDE FLETCH
Category 3 (May) - Coral On TV Maiden - £750 - Romford - LIL RISKY
Category 1 (May) - Coral Regency - £8,000 - Hove - BLONDE FLETCH
Category 3 (May) - Coral On TV Puppy - £750 Romford - LIL RISKY
Category 2 (June) - Tony Morris Memorial Trophy - £6,000 - MOUNTJOY COMET
One off open (June) - William Hill Home Of Betting British Bred Race - £1,000 - Wimbledon - JAZZ APOLLO
Category 3 (June) - Coral On TV Standard - £750 - Romford - LIL RISKY
Category 1 (July) - William Hill Grand Prix - £15,000 - Sunderland - BLONDE FLETCH
Category 1 (July) - William Hill Classic - £25,000 - Sunderland - BLONDE SNAPPER
Category 3 (July) - Bookmakers Stayers Final - £750 - Sittingbourne - AERO MAJESTIC
One off open (August) - Betfred Select Stayers Stakes - £2,500 - Nottingham - BLONDE FLETCH
Category 3 (August) - Coral On TV Stayers - £750 - Romford - ADAGEO
Category 2 (August) - John Smiths Kent Derby - £7,500 - Sittingbourne - JAZZ APOLLO
Category 3 (September) - Champions Night Standard - £1,000 - Romford - LIL RISKY
Category 3 (September) - Yarmouth Derby Purse - £1,200 - Yarmouth - BLONDE FLETCH
Category 3 (September) - Coral On TV Stayers - £750 - Romford - MUNSTER CHAMP
Category 1 (October) - William Hill St Leger - £8,000 - Wimbledon - AERO MAJESTIC
Category 3 - (November) - Coral On TV Puppy - £750 - Romford - MOUNTJOY OSPREY
MOST WINS IN 2011
1st -- BLONDE FLETCH -- 19
LII RISKY -- 19
3rd -- JAZZ APOLLO --- 15
4th -- MOUNTJOY ORION -- 11
DALCASH SCOLARI -- 11
WEBSITE MOST TOP PERFORMANCES
1st CORRIG VINCENT - 4
2nd BORN TO BE BLUE - 3
IMPERIAL KENNELS PERFORMANCE OF THE YEAR
(Sunderland - William Hill Classic Final)
IMPERIAL KENNELS GREYHOUND OF THE YEAR
WEBSITE 5 TO FOLLOW COMPETITION
1st -- JEM'S GEMS 1 -- 396 pts
2nd -- SIMONS FLYERS 5 -- 381 pts
3rd -- ANDY PELLEY 3 -- 372 pts
STAFF 5 TO FOLLOW COMPETITION
1st -- SID HUETT -- 326 pts
2nd -- PETE VERNON -- 304 pts
3rd -- SARAH WALLIS -- 301 pts
WEBSITE 5 TO FOLLOW TOP SCORING DOGS