20th August 2018
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News late on Wednesday night that Towcester had gone into administration and trials as well as the weekend racing had been cancelled sent shock waves through the industry. For ourselves it was a bitter blow and as usual caused plenty of heartache as we quickly realised the end of Towcester’s dream was upon us. For 3 1/2 years Lord Hesketh and his team had tried to bring Greyhound racing into the 21st century with a fresh new approach but unfortunately the continued mounting of debts could no longer be accepted by the directors and trustees of the Racecourse and time was called on the whole enterprise.
Despite there being rumblings for well over a year that Towcester was in trouble and talk that it wouldn’t last, the management team assured us that they were here for the long term and everything was ok. Indeed, investment into the kennels with new air conditioning and a promise that money was being spent on the track itself didn’t sound like a business in trouble. The management back in December again assured everyone that the new media rights deal with Arena Racing guaranteed the track's future so when I saw a couple of emails very late on Wednesday night that the trials early next morning were cancelled the alarm bells started ringing. At just after midnight Chris Page informed everyone that the bad news was that Towcester had gone in to administration and racing had ceased with immediate effect.
Thursday was a day to forget as I received 100’s of texts and calls from people wanting to know what was happening but we received no official notice from Towcester until the afternoon saying that the track was closing. As I woke up very early on Thursday after a restless night I pondered our kennel's future and thought the sensible thing to do would be to ring Kevin Boothby, the promoter and owner of Henlow, to ask if they would be willing to take on our kennel and I must thank him for his immediate offer of a contract at Henlow. We won’t be able to start grading runners until this Thursday but I’m hoping by the start of September we will have our first graded runners at the Bedfordshire venue. We will look forward to this new venture and hope we can be successful and a huge asset to the track, I will look forward in particular to the open race action on Sunday afternoons.
I think I could write a book on all the things that happened in the 3 1/2 years of Towcester but time won’t allow me to. As much as I’m disappointed that the whole venture has come to an end there’s no doubting the business was totally mismanaged with some ridiculous decisions that were not viable in the long term. I do, however, commend both Lord Hesketh and Kevin Ackerman for trying to bring the glory days back to the sport, everything they tried to achieve was with class and with welfare being their number 1 priority. The style and presentation of the sport was second to none, it was a pleasure to work with them and though they ultimately failed I totally have no regrets about my time there.
Again I could write several paragraphs about most things at Towcester but my highlights were the opening night which saw our Fairest Royal win the first ever official race in December 2014. We had some magnificent open race and graded action in its first full year in 2015, awesome dogs like Domino Storm, Billys Bullet and Blue Moment, to name but a few, mopped up the opens but the big race titles eluded us like the Lowther Stakes and the TV Trophy which both had open race fans calling for more big competitions to be given to Towcester and at the end of the year Towcester fabulously won the Bags Championship at Perry Barr. In 2016 the track was established but still getting plenty of criticism but again they ramped it up in style with Towcester TV being seen as the vision of the future. The Lowther Stakes and TV Trophy were joined by other big competitions and again Towcester won the Bags Championship at Perry Barr. In 2017 the news that Towcester had secured the Greyhound Derby after Wimbledon’s closure was seen as a major coup and they also played host to the GTA Trainers Championship meeting where Kevin Hutton narrowly pipped us again. The Derby completely changed many critics' view of the track with an incredible competition culminating in an emotional victory for Seamus Cahill’s Astute Missile and the eight dog Dorando Marathon on Derby Final night won by our Aayamza Breeze will live long in the memory. This year a new media rights deal with Arena Racing saw a different race schedule though, the loss of Sky for the sport overall was a major blow as it really showcased tracks like Towcester. I’m so pleased we won the GTA Trainers Championship meeting at our home track this year with both Rubys Rascal and Black Farren brilliantly winning the last two legs and again we were treated to another fabulous Greyhound Derby won by Kevin Hutton’s Dorotas Wildcat though the early slot in May to me always stopped it being as good as the previous year. Again crowds of over 6,000 people made it special and this year we had two finalists in Bruisers Bullet and Bombers Bullet. We were looking forward to the TV Trophy, Puppy Derby and the Oaks later on in the year but that now looks highly unlikely. Thank you for trying and we wish all the paddock, track and racing office staff at Towcester all the very best in the future.
Life goes on and we are involved in some Category 1 competitions elsewhere. At Nottingham on Monday Good Lad, our only runner, made a successful debut when landing his heat of the Puppy Classic in 30.02. The Coral Champion Stakes on Friday at Romford looked like it favoured the wide runners. Roswell Romanov and Garryglass Teddy seemed to struggle being drawn on the rails and were eliminated. Bombers Bullet chased home Ower Boy Bullet to qualify safely while Saleen Ash made all to score well in 35.12.
PERFORMANCE OF THE WEEK
OPEN RACING -
WHAT'S ON NEXT WEEK
Tonight Good Lad goes in the Puppy Classic semi finals and he has a reasonable chance of making the final.
We send a small team to Sheffield tomorrow night for the Three Steps To Victory heats though all three of our entries might struggle a bit to qualify over a sharp 480m.
On Friday the Champion Stakes semi finals see both Bombers Bullet and Saleen Ash in with excellent draws and I see no reason why both can’t qualify for the Final.
We start our trials at Henlow on Thursday and Saturday and on Sunday we will have runners in the opens which includes the heats of the Bedfordshire Sprint.
WEBSITE RECOMMENDED BETS
Bombers Bullet and Saleen Ash both have great chances of making the final of the Coral Champion Stakes but Roswell Romanov and Ninja Penny failed to qualify. I can’t see too much else this week though Good Lad is not without a chance in tonight’s Puppy Classic though we somewhat missed the price after he won last week.
ADVISED LAST WEEK
BOMBERS BULLET - 2.5 pts ew ante post 7/2 - Coral Champion Stakes - Romford- semi finals Friday
ROSWELL ROMANOV - 2 pts ew ante post 6/1 - Coral Champion Stakes - Romford - lost
SALEEN ASH - 1.5 pts ew ante post 12/1 - Coral Champion Stakes - Romford - semi finals Friday
NINJA PENNY - 1 pt ew ante post 25/1 - Coral Champion Stakes - Romford - lost