17th July 2017
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Overall that was a week to forget for 'Team Wallis' mainly due to the injury sustained by our top class marathon bitch Aayamza Breeze in a race at Hove on Thursday night. It was just less than a fortnight ago since we celebrated a brilliant Derby night at Towcester with both Aayamza Breeze and Bruisers Bullet scoring memorable victories on the supporting card and Aayamza Breeze was warming up for the Select Stayers at Nottingham in a couple of weeks' time with a one off 695m race at the South Coast track. Though behind she was just about to make her customary late charge but as she came off the 4th bend she checked badly and instantly you could see a major problem. Thankfully she was scooped up as she rounded the next two bends but you could clearly see she had broken her hock. She was made comfortable by the track vet and the next day we took her to Daniel Docherty's surgery at Hillingdon where he operated on her to repair the damaged hock. He was pleased with the the operation though her chances of racing again are in the balance but we will know more in a few weeks' time. It's such a shame as the last to first Dorando win had made her one of the most exciting prospects on the marathon scene but let's be thankful that the injury could have been worse.
If that was hard to take then so was the fact that our star four bend performer Bruisers Bullet had come off an earlier trial at the track slightly lame whilst warming up for this week's Sussex Cup in which he was made ante post favourite. He was never going well over 515m and clocked a moderate 30.47, though initially we couldn't see anything wrong the next morning he was slightly lame and Daniel also looked at him finding an injury to his TFL and a sore back. The TFL injury was a recurrence of a muscle problem we had a couple of weeks before the Derby started but thankfully it's not too serious and he should be fine in a few weeks' time. Whether this rules him out of the planned attack on the Irish Derby we will have to see.
It was certainly a long journey home from Hove, literally as the usual road closures on the M25 and M11 turned a 2 1/2 hour journey into a 4 hour one, this is fast becoming a regular occurrence these days and is another reason that makes all the travelling we do in search of open race and competition success is harder and harder to do. One hard journey is always our regular trip to the North East in July for the William Hill Festival at Sunderland but typically as it didn't seem to be our week all three of our semi finalists missed out on a place in the final. In the Grand Prix Rubys Rascal, so impressive the week before in his heats, missed his break and never really got to grips with the early leaders and finished 5th though only beaten around 3 lengths. Garryglass Champ ran a good race but lost out for a place in the final by 3/4 length when 3rd. In the Classic our recent arrival Parkers Dynamite ran really well but again just missed out when only 3rd. Though it was disappointing not to make the finals on Wednesday I was more than thankful all three came home safe and sound.
July hasn't really gone that well and we are falling behind our target to try and break Linda Mullins all time record of recording 364 open race wins in a year. I have always said this is a huge ask and to be honest it's not top of our priorities as winning competitions is more important but if we can see it in our sights with a couple of months to go we will really attack it.
Of course while we talk about what's going on race wise and what we might achieve for the rest of the year there is so much going on off the track and quite honestly it's difficult to get your head around all that's happening. Basically the whole of Greyhound racing is set to completely change with the ongoing battle for media rights amongst the promoters and bookmakers. A split between Bags and SIS is inevitable at the end of the year and to be honest all this is best summed up on Floyd Amphlett's Editors Chair on the excellent online edition of the Greyhound Star. What I would say is the demand for racing is likely to be higher and without doubt there are not enough trainers or greyhounds to meet this demand. This should give owners and trainers the chance they have been waiting for over the last few years to get increased prize money and trainers may at last be paid an amount that will not only give them a decent living but also ensure welfare standards are higher and their staff are paid at an acceptable level. It's as simple as that though trainers need to make sure they are not kidded or bullied into signing the first deal that comes along.
It's incredible that I still see posts on forums and mainly on social media that 'it's all right for Mark Wallis and the likes, he has loads of winners and big owners". Jesus! so what, we have worked incredibly hard to achieve what we have over the years. My mother in law Linda Jones started the kennel with a handful of runners at Swaffham and myself and Sarah helped her get to the very top some 15 years later. I only charge 50p a day more than I did 12 years ago when I took over Imperial Kennels and that's because of the demise of our once great sport, yet I would say the cost of living and all our supplies needed and staff wages has gone up by at least 33 % in that time. I think sometimes people think I get the prize money that we win! this is all paid out to the owners with only Towcester and Nottingham taking out 15 % to give to the trainer. Even though Towcester is a new shining light in our sport and try to be fair to trainers they are still below the level of what we got paid at Walthamstow in 2005. All the bookmaker owned tracks have only increased prize money and trainer bonus money by no more than 5% (a lot less in some cases) in the last 12 years since I've been a trainer which is disgraceful and don't get me started on open racing. The fact is that open races are now put on with the sole purpose of increasing betting turnover whereas years ago they were put on by promoters in evenings to get crowds into tracks. Yes the owners get slightly more than they would if they had a graded runner but the costs of travelling etc outweigh this considerably. It's now time for the promoters to pay trainers as well as owners for supplying open race runners and hopefully this can be addressed in whatever new deals take place. Trust me this is not greed it's just the right thing to do, if it doesn't happen next year I will seriously consider only entering open race runners at tracks that do look after both the owners and trainers and if that means that it decreases our chances of being Trainer of the Year then so be it.
Rant over! So let's be positive, all trainers out there it's time to take the bull by the horns and say let's sit down and discuss a fair way of making sure all aspects of our industry are looked after. The new Greyhound Media Group that's signed its tracks and trainers up to the ARC group are headed by a group of promoters that do not have a good record of paying owners and trainers a decent level of prize money and trainer money. Clive Feltham is chief amongst these and during his time on the GRA all we have seen is tracks close (Portsmouth, Catford, Oxford, Wimbledon and shortly Hall Green) be warned!
On a positive note all the goings on may well bring the industry into the 21st century and we do have a fantastic product to offer as the Derby success is proof that we can get it right. If we don't sell ourselves short, and Towcester will not be bullied into supplying it cheaply, there can be a bright future.
A brief look at the rest of the week. After the disasters said above at Hove on Thursday we did come away with two winners when Brynoffa Jasmin took a sprint in 16.31 while Cappoquin Al got off the mark with a 515m Maiden win in 30.07.
On Friday Calco Flyer couldn't escape a draw in trap 4 in the heats of the Friday Night 500 Standard when 3rd but Cotton Pants took his heat well in a fastest of the night 23.90.
No luck at Sunderland on Saturday and our runners at Henlow ran well with Tread Lightly impressive in a sprint in a fine 16.51 while a Minglers Toure won a 460m in 27.78.
On Tuesday we finished up with a couple of winners with Tread Lightly taking a D1 sprint in 15.38, Fire Height Josh got off the mark taking an A6 in 28.73.
On Saturday morning a rare four winners for the kennel with Cousin Dupree (29.46) getting his first win, Jazz Jake scrambled home in 29.52, Catunda Daisy scored a last gasp S4 win in 43.04 and another first time winner Jazz Jade won well in 28.99.
Saleen Ash was a only winner at night time scoring in A2 company in 28.45.
PERFORMANCE OF THE WEEK
OPEN RACING - COTTON PANTS
WHAT'S ON NEXT WEEK
No Sunderland on Wednesday which is disappointing but we will be at Hove Thursday with the Sussex Cup and back to Romford on Friday and we are likely to be at Henlow on Sunday.
WEBSITE RECOMMENDED BETS
Not getting one through to the finals at Sunderland was a blow and we could do with a competition winner soon, that might well come in a smaller way on Friday at Romford as Cotton Pants can land the regular Friday Night 500.
COTTON PANTS - 4 pts win - Romford - Friday
ADVISED LAST WEEK
GARRYGLASS CHAMP - 1.5 pts ew ante post 25/1 - William Hill Grand Prix - Sunderland - lost