19th December 2016
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Last week was an emotional week for ourselves and connections as two of the best greyhounds to have graced our kennels Domino Storm and Billys Bullet hung their muzzles up for the last time in what has been for both quite outstanding careers. Domino Storm almost had that fairytale ending when just failing to defend her Oaks title at Belle Vue on Wednesday while Billys Bullet went out in style in his own retirement race at Hove on Thursday. This week I will put up a full and in depth review of both their careers which will be a brilliant read as the 'Dream Team' deserve more than just a paragraph or two, I will enjoy writing this and no doubt will shed a tear or two whilst putting pen to paper so to speak.
We are coming to the end of another stellar year in less than two weeks' time and I have begun compiling our popular end of the year review which will be up at the start of January and wow! there is so much to talk about - a record 8th Trainer of the Year title, 7 Category 1 winners including a classic with a fourth St Leger victory in seven years and a fairytale win from Billys Bullet in the Regency are only a small highlight in a quite brilliant 2016.
Tonight we could cap off the season with a big race win as we travel to Nottingham for the National Sprint final as Ela Ela Genie bids to go unbeaten in the event, trap 2 is a good draw but he must come out as he has pace aplenty all around him. He finishes strong which gives him a second bite of the cherry if he doesn't lead but as we well know in this class you need to lead, whatever his fate he's had a fine year and a victory would certainly get him a nomination in the 'Sprinter of the Year' category.
Talking of awards I was privileged to be invited as guest of honour to the GWA (Greyhound Writers Association) annual Christmas lunch last Monday which was held at our owners Dick and Ann Barfoot's famous fish restaurant Sweetings in London. After lunch chairman Jonathan Hobbs talked to the writers and guests present to get a feel for the possible nominations and though I can't divulge what was said it was interesting and probably common knowledge that the 'Stayer of the Year' award is set to be dominated by our kennel with the likes of Patchys Kerry, Ferryforth Fran, Billys Bullet and Rubys Rascal all winning one or more of the top stayers races in 2016. Domino Storm is a massive favourite amongst many of the writers as well as the general public and she looks certain to have a chance of defending her 'Bitch of the Year' category after another brilliant campaign with perhaps the Select Stakes annihilation of some top class dogs at Nottingham being well talked about, all in all it was a great day.
So onto Wednesday and the RPGTV Oaks final at Belle Vue. A decent supporting card where Airforce Duchess was a close up 3rd in a bitches race was followed up by two fine wins from John Clarke's exciting Rubys Razzle (590m) and Rubys Rascal (670m) both first time up and what a 2017 they are set to have. Roswell Iceman missed his break when down the field in a hot 470m race. Hiya Butt for Hayleigh and Mark Keightley took the Laurels title with ease and it looked like only Domino Storm could stop them from a big race double with Forest Twilight as we waited with baited breath for the Oaks decider. After an epic semi final both bolted out the boxes and another great battle evolved, this time with the rails advantage Forest Twilight wouldn't let Domino Storm through on the inside and to be fair she always held our prolific and game bitch, try as hard as she could it wasn't to be as Forest Twilight took her crown by a couple of lengths in an excellent 27.77. It's fair to say Domino Storm lost nothing in defeat as the curtain came down on a glittering career that spanned from March 2014 until last Wednesday.
On Thursday I travelled down to Hove for the Billys Bullet Retirement Race over 695m which Coral had kindly put on for Scott Murray and Billy Boyle's superstar. It was the right time to bring an end to another stunning career that had seen 30 victories in 73 starts (my forthcoming review will be up later this week) and to be honest nobody expected him to beat Liz and Rab Mcnair's awesome Diego Flight who had the week before landed the Ballyregan Bob Memorial race over track and trip, but as we know Billys Bullet writes his own story and he loves Hove and in front of all Scott and Billy's family and friends he duly bolted out and took an early first bend lead. With Diego Flight right behind him he still had to pull all the stops out to hold that rival at bay and he did so to the magnificent roar of his adoring fans winning nicely by 1 1/2 lengths in a fine 41.26. The winner's podium was a joy to behold as another hero of the sport bowed out in magnificent style, thank you must go to Rab and Liz who were gracious in defeat.
In our popular 5 to Follow competition it couldn't be any closer going into the last two weeks and last Monday there was just 7 points between the top 5 teams with Brucies Besties 1 leading the way. I'm personally getting plenty of stick as I overtook my 12 year old daughter Emily in our own Staff & friends 5 to follow leaderboard, I think I might get booed if I win lol!
This Friday afternoon we could have up to five runners in the Bags Track Championship Grand Finals at Perry Bar which is live on Sky Sports. Towcester are just about favourites but that could all change depending on trap draws etc. After winning the Championship last year with the likes of Ferryforth Fran and Ballymac Shirley in the side we could unearth some more future stars. Interestingly with the new 'elite' race added to the championship Ballymac Shirley returns and hopefully she can score some vital points for the team. It was memorable day last year and hopefully it can be again this Friday.
With only a few commitments left at Nottingham, Towcester, Perry Barr and Romford this week I would like to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas. I will do a brief Newsletter the next two Mondays before we put our Review of the Year up.
On Monday at Nottingham Ela Ela Genie took his heat of the National Sprint from well off the pace in 17.83 but Chubbys Oak went out when 3rd in his heat.
As said despite Domino Storms defeat in the RPGTV Oaks final we had a good night at Belle Vue on Wednesday with two nice winners in Rubys Razzle and Rubys Rascal.
Billys Bullet was sensational on Thursday in his retirement race at Hove and on Friday at Romford Roswell Roxanne took her heat of the Friday Night Stayers and despite an odds on defeat in his heat Roswell Romanov will likely be favourite to win this week's final. Calco Flyer followed up his fine Sky victory with another superb win in a 400m in 24.02 and he continues to defy his age.
Three nice winners on Tuesday as Salltimbanco took an A7 in 29.11, Vangaal again defied big odds to win a good A2 in a fine 28.37 while Shlowdown Sally won a D2 in a good 15.47.
On Saturday morning's card Lagile Vic won in a last gasp victory in an A6 in 28.90. On the evening card another two nice winners with Tread Lightly in an A4 in 28.81 and a very good win for the second time in a week with Rubys Razzle taking a hot S1 in a very good 39.67.
PERFORMANCE OF THE WEEK
WHAT'S ON NEXT WEEK
Tonight Ela Ela Genie goes in the National Sprint Final at Nottingham,.
On Friday we return to Romford at night time while in the afternoon Towcester defend their Bags Championship at Perry Barr.
WEBSITE RECOMMENDED BETS
Only one bet this week and we should be 'All In' on Towcester to win the Bags Championship Grand Finals at Perry Barr at 5/2
TOWCESTER - 5 pts win - Bags Track Championship - Perry Barr - Friday