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It was good to get our first open race winner under our belt since the the open racing resumed just over a week ago with Tiffield Blueboy narrowly beating kennelmate Have A Brandy in the heats of a 400m event though overall the night was disappointing, more from the fact we had to withdraw our Coronation Cup hero Antigua Rum from the £1500 575m final. A small fracture behind his wrist was diagnosed when we weren’t 100 % happy with leading up to the race, this left Alien Sea as our sole representative and though the favourite Sparta Master was turned over at long odds on Alien Sea couldn’t get involved and never really threatened.
Antigua Rum looks set to be off until September at the earliest and over the last couple of months our open race team has been severely depleted through various reasons. In mid March, before the pandemic, I felt we looked set for one of our best years ever and had started the season so well with a Coronation Cup victory, this was followed with 3 runners in the Ladbrokes Golden Jacket final and a good runner up in the Golden Sprint final along with a healthy strike rate in all opens all of which had seen us with a decent lead in the Trainer of the Year standings. Since the enforced break and the open race resumption things have not gone well, some high profile injuries along with the sad loss of Bumblebee Bullet as well as the defection to Ireland of some of our top runners has left us woefully short on the open race strength but it’s no good moaning and it’s time to roll up our sleeves and get stuck in, our owners are right behind us and we will rebuild and strengthen up as we move forward. Already I can see some promising sorts like Ivy Hill Skyhigh, who won a Sussex Cup trial stake well on Saturday at Hove, his debut on the open racing scene, the promising Sober Express also won well on Sunday at Towcester and though only a graded race he looks like the step into open class at some point should be no problem. Nic and Amanda Jeal have made some useful additions that are shortly due into the kennel and we surprisingly have some new customers in these difficult times looking to purchase an open race dog or two so it’s certainly not all doom and gloom.
We have just the two entries in Saturday’s Category 1 Sussex Cup in the shape of Ivy Hill Skyhigh and Masonspeedymac who both ran well in trial stakes but of course would have to improve significantly to beat the likes of Bockos Doomie who Patrick Janssen’s has in fine shape and looks to be a strong favourite to take the honours. We of course have the brilliant Antigua Fire in the Regency heats in the fantastic double header and he lost nothing in defeat in a 695m trial stake on Saturday, beaten just 3/4 length by the highly regarded Southfield Code, he should come on leaps and bounds for the race. He is a great competition dog and no pressure but if we are to keep our Trainer of the Year lead Antigua Fire getting to the final at least is essential, we also have some useful other runners in Passing Stranger, Glassmoss Sis, No Can Boogie and the unexposed Schooldays who could all do well.
Great news also is that our prolific Coolavanny Messi is recovering well from a nasty eye injury when he was smashed into at the pick up when winning a race three weeks ago and could well return in time for the East Anglian Derby in a couple of months' time and Antigua Romeo is also recovering well from a shoulder injury and could be back in time for the Monmore Gold Cup next month though neither will be rushed back. Our prolific and underrated stayer Avastorm is now trialling back from season and hopefully can get back in form quickly with the St Leger her main target, she was a brilliant 3rd last year and is capable still of landing a big one with a bit of luck.
This weekend I had a visit from Eddie Lesley, the former Rye House promoter, and had a good long chat with him talking about things in the sport in general old and new. Eddie currently owns Swaffham race track which closed for greyhound racing a number of years ago but he has started to get it ready again firstly as a schooling track and potentially in the future to start racing again. Eddie is looking for anyone who would give some time and expertise in helping him put it all together, he tells me he has everything there needed to start up, traps, running rail, hare system, lighting etc etc and is now re-laying the surface, if you could help at all Eddie’s mobile number is 07762 888888.
Tiffield Blueboy ran well in the heats of the Friday Night Standard at Romford on Friday catching kennelmate Have A Brandy right on the line to score in 23.94, Jesses Sister ran well when 3rd in a 400m bitches race while Tiffield Maximus ran better when qualifying for the Friday Night Stayers final
At Hove on Saturday in a Regency trial stake Passing Stranger went down by a couple of lengths in 41.67, Schooldays ran well enough first time over the extended trip when 4th and Antigua Fire blew away the cobwebs when chasing home the in form Southfield Code going down by 3/4 length in a good 41.38. In Sussex Cup trial stakes Masonspeedymac ran a blinder when just touched off by King Cash in 29.91 and Ivy Hill Skyhigh
was our only winner scoring well in 30.12. Antigua Breeze in the high class top division just missed his break and was always in trouble after that ending up being beaten a long way and we have decided to give next week's competition a miss.
On Monday we had three winners with Ballyfinn Jade dead heating in an A7 in 28.33, Run Free Snowy
won easily in an A6 in a fast 27.84 while Not So Hot took his chance well in an A4 in 27.90.
Plenty of runners just missed out on Tuesday night but we did have two winners with Longacres Lily scoring in an A6 in 28.21 and the vastly improved Saffrons Tiger winning an A5 in 27.90.
On Thursday Playbook took an ultra competitive A1 in fine style in 27.74 and Calco Dare just got up to score in a messy A5 in 28.33.
On Saturday Roswell Rainbow took a D3 in 27.33 and Sligo Lily doubled up when taking an A5 in 28.37. Glassmoss Sis on her return to 550 surprised when winning at 8/1 in an S1 scoring by a length in 34.00.
We might be slightly struggling on the open race front but our graded dogs both at Henlow and Towcester are running and winning well. At Towcester on Sunday we only had four runners and one double, Saleen Again was 3rd and the in form Aero Madrid beat kennelmate Busters Bullet by 1/2 length in 29.85 while Sober Express was very impressive winning an A4 by over 5 lengths in a fine 29.60.
PERFORMANCE OF THE WEEK
OPEN RACING - IVY HILL SKYHIGH
GRADED - RUN FREE SNOWY
WHAT’S ON NEXT WEEK
Some decent action this weekend at both Romford and Hove. At Romford on Friday Tiffield Blueboy and Have A Brandy go in the 400m Friday Night Standard Final and Tiffield Maximus goes in the Friday Night Standard Final.
At Hove on Saturday the postponed Regency kicks off with a double header with the Sussex Cup and plenty of runners for us to look forward to.
WEBSITE RECOMMENDED BETS
A tentative selection last week in Passing Stranger at Hove but the well backed selection ran well but finished second. This week it’s difficult to make a case for any of ours to win the Sussex Cup but I’m expecting good things from Antigua Fire in the Regency and though his price will be short he will be our Nap for this week
ANTIGUA FIRE - 5 pts win - Coral Regency - Hove - Saturday
ADVISED LAST WEEK
PASSING STRANGER - 2 pts win - Hove - lost