20th January 2021
A good night's action at Romford on Friday featuring three cracking semi finals of the Essex Vase and with six runners we felt like we had some chances to make the first Category 1 final of 2021. In the first semi Seaglass Tiger led up but our Antigua Romeo turned a close enough second. Both Romeo and the favourite Newinn Liz challenged and all three were locked together as they drove forward to the line but in the end it was Antigua Romeo who thrust his head to the front to win by a 3/4 of a legth in 35.32. The second semi final looked like it was all over from the start as the track record holder Sparta Master led up and held a clear lead but a phenomenal burst of middle and finishing pace saw Antigua Rum just fail to get up by a neck in a fantastic 34.77. That gave us two runners in the final and we were hoping for more in the last semi final but Ivy Hill Skyhigh completely missed the break which ended his chances, up front 2018 Essex Vase winner Droopys Aoife shot off in front but our Drumcrow Brent challenged down the back straight but just ran out of gas off the last bend and ended up a close up 4th behind Droopys Aoife in 35.09.
It’s another high quality final on Friday with Antigua Romeo in trap 2. Only his very best break will suffice if he’s to lead the inside runners up while Antigua Rum bids to repeat last year's stunning Coronation Cup performance where he beat Sparta Master in an epic race. Antigua Rum’s comeback from a serious injury back in July has been sensational and a victory would be a great achievement for us all especially his patient owners Amanda and Nic Jeal.
It’s a real good weekend's action for open race greyhound fans. As well as the Essex Vase final Friday on Saturday we have the first major four bend competition as the revived Blue Riband begins at Towcester with six superb heats where we are well represented with 8 runners. Kevin Boothby has gone ahead with the competition despite no media contract for the meeting, the only way to watch the action live will be through Towcester TV (towcester.tv) and we all must do our bit to support Kevin and his team by paying a fiver to watch. That is well worth the cost and I hope everybody gets behind this as without Towcester and Kevin we would all be moaning about no opens for the top 4 bend dogs.
Also on Saturday we will send a team to Crayford as we prepare some runners for the forthcoming Golden Jacket and Peter Bussey Memorial. Antigua Fire begins his journey to a tilt at the Golden Jacket for a third time while the enigmatic Aayamza Lexie looks a leading contender for the Peter Bussey.
We are still deeply in the grip of the Covid pandemic and we are hearing that on site testing for Covid at all our tracks might well be in place shortly as guidelines are getting stricter all the time. I can certainly see a lot of withdrawals from races as there seem so many people who test positive without showing any symptoms, of course this is not to demean this horrible disease as I for one would want to know that everyone working in the stadiums have negative tests from Covid. Meanwhile we do have hope as the vaccines are now being delivered in mass numbers and we can realistically see an end to these challenging times.
No industry awards bash this year but a virtual ceremony to recognise the stars on the track is a great idea. It may not have been a vintage year for Imperial Kennels but we do have a strong contender for the prestigious Greyhound of the Year award as Aayamza Royale is nominated in both the Marathon performer of the year and the Bitch of the year categories which is fabulous news. It’s not just that ‘Lydia’ has won two big competitions, it's her style of running that has thrilled greyhound fans throughout the year. Her first open win over 575m in a Maiden Stayers back at the start of the year at Romford set tongues wagging when she came from well off the pace to win and clocked a phenomenal 34.99! This sort of run was repeated many times and the match up in the TV Trophy heats versus the brilliant Roxholme Kristoff didn’t disappoint and was viewed as a modern day version of Ballyreagen Bob v Scurlougue Champ!
Great news to see current world darts champion Gerwyn Price become a Greyhound Ambassador for the sport. Gerwyn is passionate about greyhound racing and recently put a nice pup with us called Knockard Dylan who is having his qualifying trials at Henlow. We were all cheering him on during the world championship and if Knockard Dylan runs like Gerwyn’s championship matches we are in for some exciting and close finishes!
Romford was the only open race action last Friday and Antigua Romeo and Antigua Rum marched into the final of the Essex Vase while we weren’t successful in other races with Innfield Kaci running really well when 3rd in a hot 400m race.
HENLOW & TOWCESTER REVIEW
We were in good form on the graded side, on Monday Lost Without You won well in A9 in 28.66 and Bobs Queen Alston an A10 in 28.50.
On Tuesday there was no meeting at Henlow but we had one at Towcester and we came away with two winners from four runners with Towstar Diamond winning for the first time in 7 starts taking an A6 in 30.82. Most impressive was Pennys Plumber who bolted up in an A3 by over 4 lengths in 29.67.
On Thursday at Henlow we had a good day with three winners Jaxx Purple took an S1 in a good 33.42, Bobs Boy stepped back up in trip to win an S3 in a career best 34.05 and Nippys Spirit is without doubt one of the most improved bitches in our kennel and won an A7 in style by nearly 7 lengths in also a career best 28.02.
We were also in good form on Saturday with another three winners and another to hit a career best was Saffrons Tiger who won well by 3 lengths in an A5 in a fine 27.91. Bobs Queen made it two wins in a week taking an A9 in 28.55 while Energize Bingo at last rewarded some consistent efforts taking an A7 in 28.37.
PERFORMANCE OF THE WEEK
OPEN RACING - ANTIGUA ROMEO
WHAT’S ON NEXT WEEK
We look forward to having two runners in the Essex Vase Final on Friday at Romford in the first Category 1 final of 2021. Amanda and Nic Jeal’s duo of Antigua Romeo and Antigua Rum bid to give us a flying start to the year.
On Saturday at Towcester the Blue Riband kicks off with six cracking heats and don’t forget to download the Towcester App (towcester.tv) to watch the races. We will also have a team at Crayford as we prepare for the Golden Jacket and Peter Bussey next month.
WEBSITE RECOMMENDED BETS
I thought we might get both our selections through to the Essex Vase final at one stage but Drumcrow Brent just ran out of gas in his semi final, however we do have a cracking chance with Antigua Rum and we are sitting pretty at 12/1 as he’s a best priced 7/2 now, fingers crossed. I do feel our other finalist Antigua Romeo has been slightly underestimated and is available at around 8/1 so is worth a small saver on the night.
The Blue Riband at Towcester kicks off on Saturday but most likely the only way you could have an ante post bet is through Star Sports, if you did I could see Hopes Bullet being a really good price and though it’s a tough one we will put him up for an interest.
ANTIGUA ROMEO - 1 pt ew 15/2 - Essex Vase Final - Romford - Friday
HOPES BULLET - 1 pt ew ante post - Blue Riband - Towcester - starts Saturday
RECOMMENDED LAST WEEK
ANTIGUA RUM - 2 pts ew ante post 12/1 - Essex Vase - Romford - Final Friday