20th March 2018
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If we thought it was cold a couple of weeks ago I don't think much beat last Saturday. The beast from the east returned with a vengeance causing the abandonment of a brilliant card at Towcester which included the Gold Cup final and several key races for the forthcoming Trainers Championship meeting. To be fair Towcester were in a difficult position, with the key races and the Final as well as a number of high profile trials they did their best to go ahead with the meeting. The morning's card with 14 races was run with no injuries despite the bitterly cold temperatures and the forecast wasn't much different at night. Sadly the snow came with a wind that was so cold it cut you in half as soon as it hit you. The track stood up to the conditions and the trials, though slow, went with just one dog beaten a long way, not surprisingly with cramp, but it was past 8 o'clock when they eventually finished. Conditions were now worsening and debates between the stewards and staff and the trainers couldn't come to an agreement. Once they went past 8.30 to me that was it and the meeting should have been abandoned so if I was to criticise when the decision came to past 9 o'clock to call it a day it was frustrating to say the least. Thankfully after a slow drive home we returned to the kennels late but with all the dogs safe and well.
News came on Sunday morning that an early call was made to cancel racing that night and also to cancel the Trainers Championship until April, most likely the 21st, which given the fact of what happened the previous night and that the Gold Cup will be put back a week that was a very sensible decision. If it is the 21st then that's a week after the Scottish Derby final and a full two weeks before the Greyhound Derby starts so we can't complain. Who knows maybe with a month at least to organise the Championship the GTA might even find some sponsors to reinstate the event back to its full value, if there isn't much happening that weekend then the bookmakers will no doubt get plenty of business from this high profile and competitive event so why not see if they would like to dip their hands in their pocket.
Friday night's big finals at Romford seem to pass by with very little coverage. Obviously the two major factors in seeing so little was the fact it was Cheltenham Gold Cup day and of course facilities at Romford are very restricted, credit to them though all the owners in the two finals had a table in the Pavilion restaurant and were well looked after. Again it seemed strange watching the two £10,000 to the winner races go off with little or no atmosphere but at least they went ahead and in a way you have to take your hat off to Corals and Romford for sticking to their commitments. On the track of course we were disappointed that our big hope Roswell Romanov could only finish runner up to Murrys Act in the Essex Vase Final and to be honest he ran really well but just didn't have that ferocious pace we have seen in the past, as I've said many times any owner in the country would still love to own a dog that's won 36 times from 70 races! He is staying really well and maybe his time will come over a further distance. Our other runner Ninja Penny ran solidly when 4th and not beaten too far, her time will come.
If there's one thing I was certainly wrong about a few months ago and that was saying I wouldn't think the loss of the Sky coverage would be as damaging to the sport as some people predicted, and it would mean more people would come to the tracks to watch the finals creating a better atmosphere. That's not the case and the loss of Sky is set to have catastrophic bearings on the future of our sport. I'm hearing from so many people who don't actually own dogs but watch the coverage on a regular basis saying they 'don't really follow it much now' or 'why is it not on Sky no more'! Can we really afford to lose these people? I don't think so and now I realise how many owners the sport and ourselves pick up because of the excellent and regular Sky coverage. This week I will be writing to as many people as I can who may have some connection in trying to get our coverage back to urge them to make it a number 1 priority for the sport. Of course the battle between the two competing services TRP and SIS is the major stumbling block but surely they must see the common sense of coming together to broker a deal for it to return. I'm fearful that if we leave it too long Sky will lose complete interest in having Greyhound Racing back.
We obviously thought we had a major chance at Romford on Friday and we came away empty handed but still pleased with our efforts. This Wednesday who knows maybe we might pull a big surprise off when Brinkleys Twirl runs in the final of the Ladbrokes Puppy Derby at Monmore. She has done really well to make the final and it's a class race. Brinkleys Twirl's owner Robert Brinkley is double handed as he has Brinkleys Poet in the final as well and trained by Matt Dartnall I'm sure he could have a say in the destiny of the trophy at some stage, Brinkleys Twirl is around 16/1 and already this year we have had some big priced winners like Plan Ahead (25/1) and on Friday at Romford Union Pride won at 12/1 for us so you never know, she is out of her skin and couldn't be in better shape.
As said on Wednesday at Monmore Brinkleys Twirl qualified for the Ladbrokes Puppy Derby Final when beaten just a length by Brinkleys Poet in 28.23.
On Friday we was out of luck in the Coral Essex Vase Final when Roswell Romanov was beaten 3/4 length by Murrys Act at Romford with Ninja Penny a creditable 4th just in behind. In supporting races Newinn Trump followed his Maiden win with a victory in a Winner of One 400m by a neck in 24.44. In the heats of the Friday Night 500 Marathon over 750m Kiltrea Mike led to the 7th bend but was quickly passed by the strong Slippy Maska but qualified for the final in 3rd. In the second heat Union Pride and Cincinnati were always up with the pace with Union Pride finishing the strongest to beat her kennelmate by over 6 lengths in 47.39.
A good night on Friday as youngster Roben scored a debut victory at the second time of asking winning an A9 in 29.23 calc. Saffrons Tina is back in good form and took an S2 well in 42.23 calc while Ashakiran showed her class in a decent A3 winning well in 29.30. Brynoffa Jasmin was just touched off in a top grade sprint but a good night was complete when Tangled Upinblue won another A3 by 2 1/2 lengths in 29.32.
On a bitterly cold Saturday morning both Deans Hail Mary and Swift Lisetta were second before Cousin Dupree took his first six bend race taking an S4 in 42.79. Unfortunately the evening meeting and Sunday's card fell victim to the weather.
PERFORMANCE OF THE WEEK
OPEN RACING - UNION PRIDE
WHAT'S ON THIS WEEK
On Wednesday the Ladbrokes Puppy Derby at Monmore is a rare event we have never won before and we have a lively outsider in Brinkleys Twirl, we have a few runners on the supporting card as well.
We will be at Romford on Friday with three runners in the small Marathon final and on Sunday the Category 2 Bunny Gold Cup starts at Henlow and we hope to have some entries.
WEBSITE RECOMMENDED BETS
We kept our powder dry waiting for the Trainers Championship meeting at Towcester this Saturday but the shocking weather of late has forced its cancellation until next month. Having studied Wednesday's Monmore card I think we have to have a small ew bet on Brinkleys Twirl who will be a lively outsider and is 16/1 generally (20/1 with Paddy Power). On the supporting card I would have to fancy Rubys Rascal from trap 1 though the 630m is as sharp as he wants these days.
BRINKLEYS TWIRL - 1 pt ew 16/1 - Ladbrokes Puppy Derby Final - Monmore - Wednesday
RUBYS RASCAL - 3 pts win - Monmore - Wednesday