Review Of 2014
2014 will go down as a very special year in the history of Imperial Kennels for many reasons. Writing the review below has taken many hours but it's certainly been most enjoyable when you read back what we have achieved in a fascinating 12 months.
In a year where I celebrated my 50th birthday we superbly won our third Trainer Of The Year award in succession and in the ten years since I have taken over the reins from my mother in law Linda Jones we have now won this title six times. This year it was gained really through a fantastic start to the year, the magnificent first four home in the Coronation Cup led by the brilliant Reel Trickyone in January paved the way for a year where we simply just didn't stop having winners.
The highlights were undoubtably our first Golden Jacket winner with one of my favourite all time bitches in Hometown Honey and probably even more notably our kennel's first ever Oaks winner with the brilliant Cashen Maureen, something I had purposely set out to win this year.
We made history in two different ways. Cornamaddy Jumbo will go down as possibly the sport's all time best competition hurdler ever as he unbelievably won all three major hurdles events in 2014 starting with the Springbok and the Champion Hurdle at Wimbledon and then gloriously landing the Grand National at Sittingbourne. His honours might not have finished yet as he's a leading player in the Greyhound Of The Year award later this month.
Our other history making achievement was a promise I made to myself some three years ago when I said we would have the first winner at Towcester and this came true when Fairest Royal scored on a memorable first night at the first new venue to our sport for nearly 20 years.
So Towcester, yes here is the future of not only our sport but our kennel. We left Yarmouth with a burst of winners in the Bags/SIS Championship and we had nearly five happy years at the East Anglian venue and a big thank you to the Franklin family for all their help in that time. We now will concentrate on Towcester and all that is promised there and I feel our future is safe in the hands of Lord Hesketh and his team led by the breath of fresh air that is Kevin Ackerman. It's a pleasure working with Racing Manager Chris Page again and we are all looking forward to 2015.
Congratulations have to go to Adageo Bob for being our leading open race winner and our leading website 5 To Follow top points scorer for the second year running, that really is unbelievable! Also congratulations to Kevin Dear for landing our popular 5 To Follow competition (KEVIN'S KRACKERS 1) and to Linda who pipped me by 8 points in our Staff 5 To Follow Competition.
Finally I couldn't have achieved our success alone and I would like to firstly thank my wife Sarah (she has a lot to put up with!), my team at Imperial Kennels, Pete Vernon and Sid Huett especially for all their hard work, to Kevin Ulla for running all around the country with our runners and triallers, to recent recruit Luke Jones and my part time staff Daniel (my son) and Jamie and to our other staff who are no longer with us who have helped this year Helen, Ria and Jess. Of course I'm always grateful to Linda for her continued help to me and Sarah and we are still indebted to our physio Ron Mills for his twice weekly visits to make sure our greyhounds are all sound and ready to do themselves justice on the track.
I owe all our loyal owners a massive thank you for giving us the chance to train their pride and joys and hope they all have a great 2015 with us.
We are only really reading this because of the hard work of Mick and Maureen who I sincerely thank for their countless hours in making this website so special.
After a storming end to 2013 our campaign carried on in similar fashion as Imperial Kennels completely dominated the Coral Coronation Cup at Romford. From our five entries we had a treble in the opening round and bettered that when winning all three semi finals and qualifying four runners in the final live on Sky. My fears of our runners coming together in the final were quickly dispelled and in a desperate and thrilling finish REEL TRICKYONE landed his third competition on the bounce beating JAZZ TILLY by 1/2 length with HOMETOWN HONEY a head away in 3rd and AAYAMZAMODEL only 1/2 length away in 4th. There was a good debut win in a hot 400m hurdles race for CORNAMADDY JUMBO on the supporting card.
The GBGB awards night moved up to Manchester where we received the Trainer Of The Year award for the 5th time whilst ADAGEO BOB won a deserved Best British Bred accolade for owners Dick and Ann Barfoot.
Our open racers and our graded runners at a Yarmouth were in great form and we nearly had a brilliant end to the month as BLONDE RAZOR was just touched off in the Partex Marking Systems Prestige final at a Hall Green live on Sky.
This month built up around the Ladbrokes Golden Jacket at Crayford and it was a truly memorable competition for both ourselves and owners Steve and Sarah Cragg as HOMETOWN HONEY raced to the final unbeaten and was strongly fancied to land the £17,500 to the winner event that had eluded us for many years. In the final itself she had to pull out all the stops to repel Irish Challenger Shaneless Becky and in a cracking race she just held on to make it a magical day at the Kent track. It was made even better by the earlier success of AAYAMZAMODEL in the Category 2 Peter Bussey Memorial Trophy who beat kennelmate and defending champion BRIDGE BANDIT, the third time in consecutive years we had lifted this title.
The 'Show Of Passion' day in London saw an excellent turn out to support plans to not only save Wimbledon Greyhound Stadium but to redevelop the ailing site into a new super stadium for our sport, an outcome still yet to be decided.
A brilliant first couple of months for our kennel with us already 200 points clear in the Trainer Of The Year standings.
The month couldn't have got off to a better start as CORNAMADDY JUMBO went through the novice hurdle William Hill Springbok unbeaten at Wimbledon in 29.54 on a great night of racing which included the Racing Post Juvenile Invitation where ADAGEO BOB was an unlucky 5th to Droopys Odell.
Our open racers were still flying high and LIGHTNING ZEUS took the Sittingbourne Bookmakers Stayers final and for the third straight week at the Kent track our kennel took another final when BENKAAT NERO won the Sittingbourne Bookmakers 480m Final in great style by over 8 lengths in a fine 28.83.
JAZZ TILLY rewarded her owners for a consistent last 18 months by landing the Category 2 Ladbrokes Summer Stayers Final at Monmore in runaway style and completing a good afternoon BLACKSTONE MARCO dead heated in the Ladbrokes Summer 480m Final.
As we built up to the Trainers Championship meeting at Sheffield our kennel boosted a superb 88 wins from 259 races (204 opens 55 graded) at an incredible 35% strike rate! We were now amazingly 250 + points ahead in the Trainer Of The Year standings.
With our team in great form it was a bit of a shock to the system that we didn't win the Ladbrokes Trainers Championship meeting at Sheffield which dramatically went to Paul Young. In truth our runners ran very well and on a couple of occasions were very unlucky and despite not having a winner on the night we were still bang in the hunt right up until the last race, a great night all the same.
Our open and graded runners were still ticking over nicely including CORNAMADDY JUMBO who won a 400m Hurdles in a flying 24.21. JAZZ TILLY was an unlucky runner up in the Bunny Henlow Gold Cup while in form BENKAAT NERO did well to reach the Pinpoint Arc Final but had to be withdrawn lame on the day. AERO TWIZZLE ran well to land a decent sprint on the supporting card.
Romford legend AYAMZAMAN was retired after a brilliant career where he won 38 opens.
Just over 200 entries went into the hat for the First Round of the eagerly awaited William Hill Greyhound Derby worth a huge £200,000 to the winner. In all we had eight entries headed by AERO NEMESIS who was my selection at an incredible 125/1 at the start. The news that Derby legend and former winning trainer Seamus Graham had passed away was very sad, a lovely man and a brilliant trainer.
ADAGEO BOB ended the month with a scintillating 12 1/2 length victory at Romford in a blistering 34.72.
This month was all about the William Hill Greyhound Derby and in the widest open Derby for many years plenty of big names were eliminated from the first round. Of our eight entries only four survived for the next round. EL FLUTTER landed his heat to record our 100th open winner of 2014. In the last batch of heats AERO NEMESIS made his mark on the event with a fluent success in 28.40. BLONDE RAZOR and BENKAAT NERO also made it through.
Brilliant HOMETOWN HONEY was retired to the breeding paddocks.
ADAGEO BOB wins well in the heats of the Quicksilver Trophy at Romford but sustained a cut foot in doing so and has to be with drawn from the final.
AERO NEMESIS puts himself forward as a serious contender for the Derby as he flies around Wimbledon in a fast 28.28 in the third round. EL FLUTTER and BENKAAT NERO both qualify as well.
Quarter Final time in this brilliant William Hill Derby and AERO NEMESIS continues to impress with a fluent victory but out go our other two. Sadly our dream of a third Derby victory ends at the semi final stage as Aero Nemesis leads up but the third run in eight days takes its toll as he blows up and is eliminated leaving ourselves and his owner Stuart Forsdike totally shattered.
CORNAMADDY JUMBO puts the smile back on our faces with a gutsy victory in the William Hill Champion Hurdle on Derby final night and we could only think what might have been as AERO NEMESIS wins what is effectively the Derby Consolation in a flying 28.21 some 2 lengths quicker than the brilliant Derby winner Salad Dodger. ADAGEO BOB makes a solid effort when 2nd in the British Bred race while EVANTA EVITA makes looks a real talent landing the Ladies race in fine style to complete an excellent night for the kennel.
Veteran BRIDGE BANDIT kept our fine record in 2014 going at Sittingbourne landing the Super Standard Final over 500m.
ADAGEO BOB continued is scintillating form at Romford again runs riot beating a good field by 8 lengths in 34.80.
Two superb charity events raise thousands for retired dogs, Daren Johnson's 'Give a bit back' golf day is superb at the London Club while Julie Collier's 'Fall For Hounds' is hugely successful as 50 Greyhound people Sky Jump near Peterborough including our own Head Lad Sid Huett gaining great exposure for our sport.
REEL TRICKYONE shows why is still a force as he lands the Lucky 7 final at Henlow over 550m.
On fire EVANTA EVITA lands the Category 2 Ladbrokes Summer Cup at Monmore beating some useful dogs over 480m.
REEL TRICKYONE gets our William Hill Grand Prix defence at Sunderland off to a good start winning his heat in a flying 39.58 while JAZZ TILLY, AAYAMZAMODEL and ADAGEO BOB all qualify though there's disappointment as AERO NEMESIS crashes out of the William Hill Classic.
This month is always dominated by the William Hill Festival at Sunderland and it was mixed results for our kennel. ADAGEO BOB took his semi final of the a Grand Prix and AAYAMZAMODEL showed her consistency and versatility by also making the final. In the £15,000 to the winner final itself Adageo Bob never broke and couldn't get competitive finishing last whilst Aayamzamodel ran well when 4th to Kevin Boon's Farloe Rio.
EVANTA EVITA was in cracking form down at Hove completing a seven timer and ADAGEO BOB returned to Romford for 13 length win back over 575m.
This month we heard the sad news that the 'Queen Of The Stow' STAR OF DROMIN had passed away. What a great bitch and brood mother she was and at one time held the the track records at Walthamstow for the 640m, 835m and 880 distances. Her offspring included William Hill Classic winner Jogadusc Ace and Romford legend Ayamzaman.
AAYAMZAMODEL ends the month on a high landing the Category 2 Coral Ladies Trophy at Hove worth £2,500.
A month where I celebrated my 50th birthday and the winners were still ticking over nicely but our lead in the Trainers Championship had been trimmed to around 180 points.
DOMINO STORM lands a kennel 1-2 beating SNAPPERS LAD in the Ladbrokes Puppy 480m final supporting the Ladbrokes Gold Cup but our ante post favourite EVANTA EVITA has to be withdrawn lame from the Brighton Belle.
Our 2005 Grand National winner LETHAL RUMBLE passes away and there were notable retirements with the good open class BRIDGE BANDIT, BENKAAT BLUE and GARRYGLASS RODGE.
ADAGEO BOB completes 11 wins on the bounce at Romford when winning his heat of the Coral Champion Stakes recording a flying 34.71 just four spots off the track record.
Anybody who thought Towcester was just pie in the sky were mistaken as they announce they have sold many of their horse race meetings off to concentrate on their greyhound operation, work is ongoing with either November or December mooted as a opening date.
ADAGEO BOB's fine run comes to an end when he crashes out in the semi finals o the Coral Champion Stakes but REEL TRICKYONE is still in great form and makes the decider but despite a brave effort could only finish 3rd. CORNAMADDY JUMBO lands the supporting hurdles final in fine style in a rapid 24.22 and BLACK FRANCIS made it a good night overall landing the Coral Home Of The Football Jackpot Final over 750m in a fine 46.98.
DOMINO STORM runs an absolute cracker to only be beaten 3/4 lgth in the £15,000 to the winner East Anglian Derby Final at Yarmouth.
There are notable retirements in JAZZ TILLY (off to breeding paddocks) and MURLENS CRASH who had a fabulous end to 2013 and start to 2014.
SAFFRONS ANNA provides our Markwallisgreyhounds Racing Club with a real thrill when 3rd in the Coral Romford Puppy Cup final behind Laughing Gravy.
Paul Young's kennel is flying and is reducing our advantage at the top of the Trainer Of The Year standings all the time despite ourselves having a good run. Step up CORNAMADDY JUMBO as he begins his Grand National campaign at Sittingbourne with a win over 480m despite my reservations about getting the trip.
I make it official that we will be leaving Yarmouth and moving our whole operation to Towcester as it announces that they will hold their first trial sessions in November.
CORNAMADDY JUMBO takes his semi final of the Grand National and BLONDE RAZOR completes a fine 5 timer as he lands his semi final of the Kent Derby, though SIDAZ DIPPY disappoints in the final of the Kent St Leger at Crayford when last.
A memorable night at Sittingbourne as CORNAMADDY JUMBO creates history as the first greyhound to win all three major hurdle races in the same year by gallantly landing the Friends Of Sittingbourne Grand National Final, one of the all time highs in our kennel's amazing fortunes. BLONDE RAZOR on the same night ran well when 3rd in the Kent Derby final.
ILEWIN ALLOT an ultra consistent dog all year was an excellent 3rd in the RPGTV Henlow Derby to complete an excellent month.
DO IT FOR TWIGGY made the final of the British Breeders Stakes Final at Nottingham but was unplaced but TOOSEY FERN landed a nice £2,000 when winning the Romeo Recruit At Stud Bitches Final.
It was very satisfying to see AERO TWIZZLE come back from a serious injury to return and win the S & D Bookmakers Sprint Trophy at Peterborough in fine style.
With the pressure well and truly off in the Trainer Of The Year standings as we pull over 200 points clear we are still clicking nicely with some great winners. BENKAAT NERO produces a career best 29.56 effort at Nottingham in the first round of the Betfred Eclipse and SNAPPERS LAD (brought by Calco Syndicate) also runs well to qualify.
Our sport was rocked by a hatchet job done by BBC's Panorama programme but it certainly brought a few things to the fore that our industry needs to sort out.
REEL TRICKYONE's incredible last 12 months comes to an end as he dislocates a toe in the heats of the Tony Jago Memorial Trophy behind ADAGEO BOB and will be unable to defend his Essex Vase title so is immediately retired, what a superstar!
Adageo Bob is second in the final in a thrilling race beaten 1/2 length by Airport Captain.
Snappers Lad (CALCO FLYER) runs a blinder when 3rd in the Betfred Eclipse final at Nottingham and our Essex Vase defence starts well at Romford as ADAGEO BOB dips under the 35.00 barrier again with a facile 34.76 win just nine spots off the clock. Our Oaks campaign also gets underway and the high class CASHEN MAUREEN makes her debut when an eye catching 2nd in the opening round, remarkable as she had virtually been written off when she came to our kennel a month before with a wrist injury. EVANTA EVITA kicks her campaign off with a win.
Our first trial session at Towcester see's 11 of our strength put through their paces. The track is in brilliant condition and everyone remarks how good the sweeping bends are.
With our Essex Vase runners sitting pretty in the semi finals disaster strikes as our van is stuck in traffic chaos which takes us over four hours to reach Romford meaning both BLONDE RAZOR and ADAGEO BOB arrived too late to take their chance. Both JIMMY NAILED ON and ROSEALINDA are able to run in the 3rd semi final but run flat and neither make the final, certainly a real low point in 2014.
CASHEN MAUREEN certainly brought a smile back to our faces as she stormed to a flying 27.51 second round ECC Timber Oaks at Belle Vue success and EVANTA EVITA also qualified comfortably.
It was all smiles again as both CASHEN MAUREEN and EVANTA EVITA took both semi finals of the Oaks on the eve of the opening of Towcester. Many people didn't know what to expect but what a great occasion it was. Some 4,000 people turned up to witness a tremendous occasion for the sport, the lighting was magnificent and the giant screen was a wonderful stand out feature. As the hare approached for the first race a huge Derby like roar went up and as the traps opened it was FAIREST ROYAL who flew out and to massive cheers. She set a relentless gallop and came home to land the spoils. What a thrill winning the first ever race at this new venue and something I promised to do some three years ago when I first spoke to Kevin Ackerman and his team about racing at Towcester.
December got better as ADAGEO BOB returned to Romford to win a supporting Sky open and justly equalled the track record when flying round in 34.67 and AAYAMZAONE also scored well in a flying 23.76.
On a cold wet December night in Manchester that wasn't going particularly well one of my training dreams was realised as CASHEN MAUREEN lit up Belle Vue with a pulsating display of front running. Coming home over 4 lengths to the good she clocked a magnificent calculated 27.29 in winning our first ever Oaks title, sensational and a very worthy winner which really capped another memorable year off for Imperial Kennels. EVANTA EVITA tried her hardest but finished in 5th. BLUE MOMENT was involved in serious first bend trouble when down the field in the ECC Timber Laurels final.
The gala Sky card at Towcester a few days later was another great occasion with another large crowd on a bitterly cold night and the highlight for our kennel was winning the 686m Invitational with VANROONEY stepping up in trip for the first time. We also topped 1,000 points for the year.
The month and year was finished off in grand fashion as BLACKSTONE MARCO epitomised our kennels all year form when going unbeaten through the Henlow Cesarewitch winning the final on a Boxing Day by nearly 4 lengths from kennelmate VANFRENCHIE in a fast 33.30. ILEWIN ALLOT made it a great day when rewarding his consistency by also winning the Henlow Dual Distance final over 428m.
Our last runner of the year was in the Olympic Final at Hove where Benkaat Nero was a shade unlucky when finishing 4th.
I hope you enjoyed our review
Happy New Year!
MAJOR COMPETITIONS WON IN 2014
Category 2 - Coral Coronation Cup - Romford - Reel Trickyone - £5,000
CATEGORY 1 - LADBROKES GOLDEN JACKET - Crayford - HOMETOWN HONEY - £17,500
Category 2 - Peter Bussey Memorial Trophy - Crayford - Aayamzamodel -£2,000
Category 3 - Sittingbourne Sprint Final - Sittingbourne - Murlens Crash - £500
Category 2 - William Hill Springbok - Wimbledon - Cornamaddy Jumbo - £5,000
Category 3 - Sittingbourne Stayers Final - Sittingbourne - Lightning Zeus - £500
Category 2 - Ladbrokes Summer Stayers - Monmore - Jazz Tilly - £5,000
Category 3 - Ladbrokes Summer 480m - Monmore - Blackstone Marco - £1,000
Category 3 - Sittingbourne Standard Final - Sittingbourne - Benkaat Nero - £500
Category 3 - William Hill Champion Hurdle - Wimbledon - Cornamaddy Jumbo - £1,500
Category 3 - William Hill Invitational - Wimbledon - Aero Nemesis - £1,500
Category 3 - William Hill Ladies - Wimbledon - Evanta Evita - £1,500
Category 3 - Sittingbourne Super Standard Final - Sittingbourne - Bridge Bandit £500
Category 3 - Lucky 7 550m Final - Henlow - Reel Trickyone - £700
Category 2 - Ladbrokes Summer Cup - Monmore - Evanta Evita - £5,000
Category 3 - Coral Ladies Trophy - Hove - Aayamzamodel - £2,500
Category 3 - Visit Coral.co.uk Hurdles Final - Romford - Cornamaddy Jumbo - £1,000
Category 3 - Coral The Home Of Football Jackpot - Romford - Black Francis -
Category 3 - Ladbrokes Puppy 480m - Monmore - Domino Storm - £1,000
Category 1 - FRIENDS OF SITTINGBOURNE GRAND NATIONAL FINAL - Sittingbourne - CORNAMADDY JUMBO - £8,000
Category 1 - ECC TIMBER OAKS - Belle Vue - CASHEN MAUREEN - £15,000
Category 3 - William Hill-On Your Mobile Stayers - Towcester - Vanrooney - £1,000
Category 2 - Henlow Cesarewitch - Henlow - Blackstone Marco - £2,500
Category 3 - Henlow Dual Distance Final - Henlow - Ilewin Allot - £500
WEBSITE AWARDS 2014
MOST WINS IN 2014
1st - 17 - ADAGEO BOB
2nd - 14 - BLACKSTONE MARCO
3rd - 13 - CORNAMADDY JUMBO
13 - BLONDE RAZOR
WEBSITE TOP PERFORMANCES OF THE YEAR
1st - 7 - CORNAMADDY JUMBO
3rd - 4 - REEL TRICKYONE
4th - 3 - JAZZ TILLY
1st - 3 - SAFFRONS CHAMP
IMPERIAL KENNELS PERFORMANCE OF THE YEAR
(ECC Timber Oaks Final)
IMPERIAL KENNELS GREYHOUND OF THE YEAR
WEBSITE 5 TO FOLLOW COMPETITION
1st - KEVIN'S KRACKERS 1 ........... 385 pts
2nd - BROCATSEA GHIRL............... 363 pts
BROTHERS KAYANDDEM 2
STAFF 5 TO FOLLOW COMPETITION
1st - LINDA....................... 351 pts
2nd - MARK .................... 343 pts
3rd - KEVIN .................... 320 pts
WEBSITE 5 TO FOLLOW TOP SCORING DOGS
1st - ADAGEO BOB ............... 120 pts
2nd - BLACKSTONE MARCO.. 101 pts
3rd - BLONDE RAZOR ............ 96 pts
4th - BENKAAT BOOMER....... 83 pts