19th September 2016
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As I travelled to Portugal Wednesday morning on my annual Calco Cup golf trip I was eagerly anticipating not only the few days ahead in the Algarve but also watching the East Anglian Derby final live on Sky on the evening with Clondoty Alex bidding for a third win in the competition for our kennel after Fear No One won back in 2005 and Courts Legal in 2001 when I was assistant trainer to Linda. The day went well as I had a practice round in the afternoon and the 40 lads on the trip hired the beach restaurant out for the night which was right next to our hotel, unfortunately they didn't have Sky Sports so it was a case of mobile phones and live streaming to watch Calco Flyer run early in the evening. Needless to say the place erupted as he struck the front down the back straight, the oi oi's rang out loud as he strode away for another Sky victory and even though Calco Flyer is fast approaching 100 races and he may not be as quick as he once was he still retains enormous ability and has been a magnificent dog for the Calco syndicate.
Things quietened down as we tucked into our meal but for me it was a countdown towards the big race. I had no doubt that before I left Wednesday morning Clondoty Alex was in the best condition of his career, despite a couple of wounds sustained in the first round that we were on top off, he was bouncing. Our master physio Ron Mills had gone over him with a fine tooth comb on the Monday and any niggles or tight muscles he was feeling had been ironed out. This is of course essential in my opinion in a four round competition and is a big reason we have such a good record in finals. Myself and Kevin went just outside the restaurant to watch the race as the dogs were loaded for the final. Most people didn't think he could clear the early paced duo on his inside from trap 3 but I could sense that this was his moment and my comments in the paper that he might be better off missing the break and tucking was only Arsene Wenger mind games, his only chance was to smash out and lead all the way. True enough out Alex popped to the roars of his connections and the few who had backed him on the track and once clearing trap 1 Bubbly Turbo he was left in splendid isolation and me and Kevin started another chorus of vociferous Oi Oi's which carried on far too long after the race if I was honest. Our Calco boys joined in and for the next five minutes I was in ecstasy as well as a sense of relief that our hard work had paid off. The delight on Sid and my son's face as well as his owners present Kevin Dear and Paul Carpenter at the presentation made me as proud as punch, his other owner Nick Cheesemen was at Wembley with his daughter and I'm sure he was punching the air with delight when he heard the news.
Clondoty Alex is another older type that we have done well with this last 12 months following in the footsteps of the likes of Adageo Bob, Patchys Kerry, Billys Bullet, Ferryforth Fran and Domino Storm who have won big events well into their second season of racing or even their third season which is testament to our ability to get the best out of these great dogs. Alex is the model of consistency having not only won 17 of his 46 races but has been placed 14 times and has only been out the first three 8 times. He has, up until last Wednesday, been a nearly dog but what better way to strut his stuff on the big occasion than an East Anglian Derby Final. His time of 27.79 was right up to his best and he has been a popular dog when he has raced up and down the country. Our thanks go out to Yarmouth and the Franklin family for again putting on an excellent competition and for their superb hospitality, it remains one of the key events of the calendar year. Alex will have a short rest and I will discuss his next races with his owners with possibly the RPGTV Henlow Derby being his target. Incidentally our golf competition over two days at the magnificent Victoria and Old Course resulted in me not finishing last like the year before so I've happily shed my moose's outfit and antlers. I still wasn't great finishing around 24th of 35 payers, a more commendable effort was made by my Kennelhand and friend Kevin Ulla who finished 6th after two very solid rounds.
A few days on and we are preparing for another big final when Billys Bullet and Rubys Rascal travel to Doncaster on Wednesday for the Pinpoint Yorkshire St Leger final. A thrilling finish in Saturday's semi final saw Sheffield raider Coney Cashen beat Billys Bullet by the minimum margin in 41.28 with Rubys Rascal a close up 3rd after missing his break, Ferryforth Fran could only finish 5th after also missing his break. Probably the main reason for these missed breaks was the fact traps never opened as the hare went past first time and after placing them back in traps a few minutes later understandably a couple got worked up, it didn't help youngster Rubys Rascal and certainly Ferryforth Fran had completely shot his bolt. Both ours however still have an excellent chance of landing a second live on Sky Category 1 final in two weeks. It's a case of the young pretender Rubys Rascal taking on the wily old Billys Bullet with the utmost rest for the other four rivals.
We are also in the middle of two big events at Crayford where Ribble Aon produced a fantastic effort to win her Gold Collar heat in a fine 33.61 with last year's runner up Swift Whirlwind qualifying as well back in 3rd. In the Guys & Dolls heats Evanta Fantasy took her heat over 380m in another excellent 23.16 the fastest of all the competition. It would be great to get all three through to next Tuesday's finals live on Sky but first they face some stiff opposition in Thursday's semi finals.
We have a big trainers meeting this Wednesday morning where the Towcester management will outline their future plans for the racecourse including the new race days involving the early morning meetings. There's no doubt that what they have planned is a little different from the norm but somewhere sometime we have to look a little outside the box in our ailing industry. With trainers kennels coming into a new era of standards required and a complete lack of funding as promised by the bookmakers apart from a trickle of live streaming money many trainers will not be able to pay for these new standards and will walk away from the sport. Most promoters are already struggling with a lack of trainers thus resulting in not enough greyhounds being available to produce what's needed for a competitive card it again beggars the question why something wasn't done a long long time ago. The blame seems to be passed around but that's a debate for another day. At least Towcester seem to be thinking in the right direction and everything they do will always have long term benefits for the trainers and owners. I just hope those better times are just around the corner as even a kennel like ours is really feeling the pinch at the moment.
In the 5 To Follow competition teams have just less than two weeks to get their changes sent over so their new teams can start on October 1st. As said its not too late if you are way down the leaderboard as I've seen many teams come from way off the pace to win. The new up to date list of our runners is now up on our competition page.
A couple of nice winners at Towcester last week with Chubbys Oak in the Sprint (15.51) and improving puppy Garryglass Champ who made it three on the spin when recording a good 29.43.
A sensational night on Wednesday at Yarmouth as Clondoty Alex took the prestigious East Anglian Derby Final worth £12,000 and Calco Flyer took a supporting open in 27.97. Ribble Atom was a close up 3rd in the marathon and Saffrons Anna ran well when second to Oscar Junior in another 462m open.
No luck in the Romford Puppy Cup heats as both Risky Manny and Adageo Gold finished 4th but our other runner on the night Roswell Red Kite bolted in when over 575m in 35.60.
A mixed night at Doncaster and Crayford on Saturday as said and on Sunday we had a really disappointing night at Sittingbourne with all four of our entries crashing out the event in the first round. Amazing how we go from the elation of Clondoty Alex on Wednesday and what happened last night, still they all seem to have come off ok.
No winners on Tuesday and only runners on Friday with Adageo Djongo on the mark again in 15.58 in top grade and in a form Vangaal taking an A2 in 28.64.
PERFORMANCE OF THE WEEK
WHAT'S ON NEXT WEEK
A couple of opens grace the card at Towcester on Tuesday and on Wednesday a big night in prospect as Team Wallis try and win the Pinpoint Yorkshire St Leger with either Rubys Rascal or Billys Bullet.
On Thursday we return to Crayford for the semi finals of the Gold Collar and Guys & Dolls competitions.
We will be at Romford Friday.
WEBSITE RECOMMENDED BETS
Our ante post bets at both Crayford and Sittingbourne bit the dust at the first hurdle but Rubys Rascal trades as favourite with some bookmakers in the Pinpoint Yorkshire St Leger. For those that played I certainly wouldn't rule Billys Bullet out as the dog for the big occasion and a saver at least is advised.
ADVISED LAST WEEK
ROSWELL ROMANOV - 2 pts ew ante post - Ladbrokes Gold Collar - Crayford - lost
BALLYMAC SHIRLEY - 2 pts ew ante post - Kent Derby - Sittingbourne - lost
RUBYS RASCAL - 2 pts ew ante post 6/1 - Pinpoint Yorkshire St Leger - Doncaster - Final Wednesday