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Last week’s sudden death of John Gilburn came as a huge shock and myself and our kennel sends its deepest condolences to his family at such a sad time. Since taking over as General Manager at Sheffield a few years ago, after a very successful stint at Belle Vue, John had transformed the whole stadium making a real impact both on and off the track. Of course in his position not everybody would agree with all his decisions but overall Sheffield had become one of the flagship tracks under his reign. From our kennel's point of view John always had time to welcome us when we travelled up through the year for most of the big competitions staged and made sure we and our owners were looked after as best he could, and let’s remember Sheffield had become one of the busiest open race venues with regular top competitions. I was one who was delighted when he joined the GBGB as head of the Racecourse Promoters as he would without doubt give a balanced opinion on all matters and certainly brought a new fresh approach to the GBGB, indeed after speaking to him for over an hour only a couple of weeks ago he listened vey carefully to what I had to say regarding our sport and again spoke with passion on how much he wanted to help see the sport with the owners and trainers thrive again. All of this extra work was in his own time and unpaid but done without a thought to his own health, a family man through and through he was much respected and will be really missed in this industry, RIP John.
Of course we have a long way to go before our industry can get back totally on track but I do believe we are turning the corner. John was part of a new era in the GBGB under the leadership of Mark Bird which is starting to show that it really cares on what the future holds for us all. If there is one thing that has let the industry down in the past its the total short sightedness and complete lack of forward thinking, yes some strides were made with the likes of Defra etc but overall attendees and tote turnover are the lowest they have ever been, we have lost several key tracks and the bookmakers basically pay a pittance to our fund, our welfare side has had major issues to the point of many saying the industry is on borrowed time. No way are you going to be able to turn this around in a few weeks or months but we seem to be chipping away slowly at many key issues. I was delighted to be part of the new Ambassador group which hopes to help the GBGB get a balanced and different view point from all stakeholders, none of the people involved will settle for being just a showpiece for the GBGB. Today many of us travel down to the GBGB offices to meet Mark and start to get some points across that we all would like to be listened to and then acted upon if agreed upon. This meeting and future meetings will also help us understand how the GBBG works and what kind of problems it faces. Over the next few weeks I will give an honest opinion of whether I think this is going to work or not and I will be very strong in everything I have to say.
On the track there seems no doubt that extra two early morning meetings at Henlow have made us busier than in a long time and I’m going to give it a few weeks before I decide whether it’s the way I want us to work or not. The meetings are quite ok to work for myself and our staff and the dogs love racing whatever time of day it is. The question will of course will arise when we hit bad weather both in terms of travelling and track conditions for the racing side, I will never risk either just to keep SIS happy in fulfilling their betting markets that clearly make decent profits for them.
On the open race front it was nice to see Saleen Ash pinch a minor competition at Romford on Friday when winning well over 575m, he has been ultra consistent all year and has won the Peter Bussey Memorial at Crayford, made both a Derby semi final and a Champion Stakes Final and it would be deserving if he could land a really big competition before the end of the year. In the Hawk Derby at Henlow we only managed to get a couple of qualifiers while this week we see the start of the Brighton Belle and both Chubbys Turkana and Chubbys Caviar will represent us, we have won this event a couple of times before but ours will face some stiff opposition so it won’t be easy.
At Doncaster last Monday Baroness Bullet was impressive taking a decent open over 661m in 41.94 just 2 lengths slower than the SIS St Leger was won in. Aayamza Breeze was surprisingly caught right on the line by Looking Sharp in the marathon.
Just four runners at Romford on Friday with Saleen Ash taking the Friday Night 500 Stayers Final by over 4 lengths in 35.34, Shrewd Honcho delighted us with a 24.04 victory in the heats of the Friday Night 500 Maiden Standard scoring by over 5 lengths and our December 17 bitch could be a major player in the forthcoming Puppy Cup.
At Henlow on Sunday Saleen Story, Brinkleys Rosie (beaten a short head) and Garryglass Teddy all qualified for the Hawk Derby semi finals while we had a nice winner in the Stayers race over 692m with Brigadier Bullet impressive winning by over 4 lengths in a good 42.44. Over at Central Park Parkers Dynamite was just denied in a rare sprint hurdle while it was great to see Cincinnati
bounce back to his best form when landing a 642m race in a good 40.06.
In a busy week we had several winners. No luck on Monday with just a few runners and on Tuesday Saffrons Bonnie took an S5 in 34.20. On Thursday we had three nice winners as Shazzas Bullet took an A9 in 28.58, Energize Honey finally got her head in front after several good efforts winning an A8 in 28.65 while Silva Hill took advantage of an A3 winning well in 27.79.
On Friday morning Ribble Ghost took an A8 in 28.40 while Gully Foyle back from a short break took an A7 in 28.42. On Saturday again just a few runners but a great run from Potman who took a good A5 in 27.96.
PERFORMANCE OF THE WEEK
OPEN RACING - CINCINNATI
GRADED - POTMAN
WHAT'S ON NEXT WEEK
On Thursday we travel to Hove for the Brighton Belle with supporting races and on Friday Shrewd Honcho bids to land us another minor competition in the Friday Night 500 Maiden Standards Final.
We will hopefully try and get one of our three runners through to the Hawk Derby Final at Henlow on Sunday, while we should have plenty of supporting runners.
WEBSITE RECOMMENDED BETS
Saleen Ash won on Friday but at ridiculously short odds while our ante post selection in the Hawk Henlow Derby Kilcree Diamond was withdrawn off colour so all Stakes will be returned.
Only really the Brighton Belle that starts this week and I see no reason why we can’t support our two runners for small stakes, both Chubbys Turkarna and Chubbys Caviar trialled reasonably well last week and are entitled to improve.
CHUBBYS CAVIAR - 1 pt ew ante post - Brighton Belle - Brighton - starts Thursday
CHUBBYS TURKANA - 1 pt ew ante post - Brighton Belle - Brighton - starts Thursday
ADVISED LAST WEEK
SALEEN ASH - 5 pts win - Romford - Friday - Won 2/5
KILCREE DIAMOND - 2 pts ew ante post - Hawk Derby - Henlow - Sunday - withdrawn