25th April 2018
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We have certainly had some great weeks in our kennel's history but without doubt last week was up there with the best. A surprise Category 1 victory on Tuesday at Sheffield was followed by an open race comeback on Thursday that took your breath away, a decent night at three tracks on Friday including two qualifiers for the Grand National final and then to top it all a glorious evening at Towcester on Saturday night where we landed the prestigious Gain sponsored GTA Trainers Championship meeting meaning we now hold both industry’s Trainers titles, quite simply they don’t come much better than that!
After last weekend's long trip to Shawfield I was feeling pretty jaded and after a busy Monday sorting out the week’s trials and finalising our team for the Trainers Championship on Tuesday we travelled up to Sheffield for the Bresmed Northern Sprint final and the supporting races. Chubbys Caviar got the night off to a great start bolting up in a decent 27.80 over 480m, Garryglass Champ was just touched off by the Queen Mother Cup winner Swift Marvelette over 660m. The big Sprint final was coming up and our dog Cotton Pants looked a picture, he had certainly made the final on merit but it was a big ask to beat the strongly fancied Affane Party. Sprints though can be unpredictable and Cotton Pants flashed out from trap 5 as did trap 1 Blakes Flyer. The favourite was in trouble and as they came off the second bend Blake’s Flyer just held the call narrowly but a powerful finish from our Cotton Pants saw him grab the glory by 1/2 length to land the £8;000 first prize. It was a fantastic achievement and owner Tom O'Donnell was there to lift the trophy while his other owner Tony Head watched at home. Special mention has to go to Nic Bereton of Geelo Racing whose sponsorship is much appreciated.
I must admit that getting that first Category 1 victory of the year is always a joy and seems to take a certain amount of pressure off me. We have, as a kennel, achieved at least one Category 1 victory every year since 1999 without fail, Cotton Pants was our 68th Category 1 title in our history (Linda 13 myself 55) and we are blessed to have such a good team around us to make these great achievements happen. Hopefully that inspired us to have such a good week and on Friday we have set ourselves up to achieve another top group 1 title when both Swift Dartmoor and Parkers Dynamite qualified for the Grand National Final at Central Park. Dartmoor ran well to finish 3rd to The Alickadoo beaten3 1/2 lengths in 29.77 and just needs to brush up on his trapping as his jumping is very good. Parkers Dynamite will go into this Friday's final second favourite as he had another huge tussle with defending champion Razldazl Raidio this time going down by 1/2 length in 29.63. Dynamite just needs to jump a bit quicker through the hurdles as there is no doubt he has the speed to win. It's been three years since the greatest ever hurdler in the history of the sport Cornamaddy Jumbo did the famous treble of Springbok, Champion Hurdle and Grand National en route to the Greyhound Of The Year title and it would be nice to win a third Grand National in our history though Razldazl Raidio will be a tough nut to crack!
Onto Saturday night and where do we start? Maybe back to Wednesday where the annual GTA Trainers Championship luncheon was another great occasion in Towcester's first class restaurant. It's a perfect build up hosted by Jonathan Hobbs where all the connections of the six trainers are wined and dined. Interestingly as Hobbsy went round the tables not one of about 20 people asked put us forward as possible winners of the event, the draws for the races were done and the fact ours come out least favourably might have had something to do with the lack of support for us! For myself I felt I had picked the right team to do ourselves justice. The all important decision was to let our number 1 four bend dog Bruisers Bullet run in a Derby trial stake rather than in the top division of the Championship race. Key to this decision was that I wanted eight different sets of connections to represent us rather than have one set of owner(s) with more than one dog hence why the Bruiser Boyz Syndicate had Bombers Bullet only in the Championship team, now all we had to do is get them ready for battle.
A huge crowd turned up to Towcester with many racegoers wanting to watch not just the Trainers Championship races but the six Derby trial stakes as well. Our first runner of the night was in one of the said trial stakes and none other than Bruisers Bullet. He was made even money favourite and there was no doubt he had questions to answer after defeats at Monmore and Shawfield and they were quickly answered after two strides as he flashed out from trap 4 and easily led at the first bend. The field were chasing shadows as he powered to n 8 length win from the classy Murrys Act in a superb 28.97 (-20). I now had a feeling that this could be our night! The first Gain GTA Championship race was Division C of the 500m Standard, Liz Mcnair's Greyhound Of The Year King Elvis showed his class to run into an unassailable lead but our Saleen Ash was my pick to score us no less than seven points and he did this with a burst of pace that took him from being 4th at the bend to finishing runner up beaten 2 1/2 lengths in 29.51 (-20) which put Bruisers Bullets run into some sort of context.
Liz Mcnair, the pre competition favourite, secured a second win in the sprint when Queen Anna flew from the lids to beat Paul Young's Colavanney Boy in 15.20 (-10) with Kilcree Diamond back in 4th running solid. In running Liz Mcnair was now as short as 1/2 to lift the crown. For me our whole chance rested on the next two races as I felt both Garryglass Champ and Brinkleys Twirl had great chances of winning their races, if we weren't leading by the halfway stage I genuinely felt with the second half draws we had we would be in trouble. Twirl was first up and with a draw in trap 1 in the juvenile race she was my Nap of the meeting and she didn't let us down showing terrific early pace to lead up and score comfortably by 2 1/2 lengths in 28.61 (-20). Garryglass Champ may have got caught on Tuesday over 660m after leading but this time when he hit the front at the third bend in Division B of the Stayers there was no stopping him, going clear down the back straight it was never over as he only just gets the 686m and Patrick Janssen's Affleck Lady rallied off the last two bends but was squeezed for room as Garryglass Champ chopped her off. In a driving finish Champ clung on for a head victory in 41.86 (-30), with Liz McNair only scoring 2 points in the two races we had now raced to a 8 point lead at halfway exactly where I was hoping for.
Of course this Championship never seems to go the way you expect and the Bitches race looked ultra competitive. Ashikiran is a bitch I had earmarked for this event a while back as she posses great early pace but is a bang railer so drawn in trap 4 was hazardous to say the least, a modest start didn't help but she showed terrific pace and at the vital turn she looked like she was going to clear the field but our luck changed and she was dragged back and found further trouble off the second bend which meant her race was over. She finished 5th though not beaten far but was very unlucky, the eventual winner Madabout Maggie gave defending champion Kevin Hutton a lifeline and when Magical Bale struck the front in Division B of the Standard many, including me, felt like his usual late charge would prove successful. But as Magical Bale strode home to win we cheered a crucial late charge from Bombers Bullet which saw him nick second place in the dying strides, in fact he was only 1/2 length away from the winner and ran a blinder. The scores now read 39 pts to ourselves and 37 pts to Kevin Hutton with both Liz McNair and Paul Young within striking range.
Race 7 and Division A of the Stayers had our St Leger hero Rubys Rascal as 6/4 favourite but I didn't like his draw in trap 4 with loads of early pace inside. Kevin Hutton had left a couple of decent stayers out for Jovial Monk and Liz Mcnair's Nap of the meeting Paradise Valdez was plotted up in trap 1 while Patrick Janssen's Goldies Hotspur was easily capable of spoiling the party. I feared the worst I must admit, those feelings never changed at the first bend as Paradise Valdez raced into an early lead, Rubys Rascal seemingly in a reasonable position was suddenly stopped in his tracks but crucially Jovial Monk also was shuffled back to last. Going down the back straight Rascal was only 4th with a mountain to climb to grab some important points. Liz's Valdez looked likely to score maximum points and so put her right back in contention while we did have Jovial Monk behind us but if the positions didn't change I knew we were looking down the barrel of a gun knowing that Kevin and Liz had their two hot pots to come in the last leg. While I was thinking how on earth Black Farren was going to win from trap 5 Rubys Rascal took matters in his own hand, our old warhorse said 'sod this I will bail you out again boss' and with 250 meters to go he unleashed a mesmerising burst of pace firstly to squeeze past Silverhill Conor and yes TV Trophy hero Goldies Hotspur and then the unimaginable happened to a crescendo of noise from all our masses of supporters in the stands he collared long time leader Paradise Valdez right on the line to win by a neck in 41.83 (-30). The scenes of celebration were a joy to behold for the victory and it was at least a few minutes before we realised that now with Rascal's 10 points we could not get beat and finally the GTA Trainers Championship was back in our hands after 8 long years without winning, it was a tremendous feeling.
So now we couldn't get beat and my first thought for the last race was to see Black Farren, a live Derby prospect, not to get in any trouble, winning didn't matter just don't get hurt. I think Rubys Rascal must have had a word in his ear as they passed each other on the way to and from the paddock and clearly Black Farren had been told this last leg might come down to him. The incredibly fast King Turbo and Dorotas Wildcat, as expected, contested the lead and I drew a huge sigh of relief to see our Irish Derby runner up turn 3rd. A dozen strides later and the impossible looked on as Black Farren showed tremendous middle pace to not just draw alongside the two superstars but burst through the middle of them on the run in to go on and land a truly memorable victory scoring by 1 3/4 in 29.61 (-20). The noise levels rose again and I apologise to those all around me for my 'Ian Poulter' like impressions, we certainly got carried away but this is what this Championship does to you, it's a tremendous feeling of satisfaction and nothing except the Derby matches this event for the trainers.
I was a proud man lifting the Trophy with my family and staff (except Kiera who was getting a runner ready in the following race and Linda who was at home cheering our runners on). We may have won so much in the sport but these occasions carry every emotion possible, how we have not got this on main stream television is something I will never understand. The trainers and staff are brilliant, the greyhounds taking part are massive stars with the racing awesome and the owners love the different side of not just cheering their own dogs on but the team, why wouldn't it be sellable! Anyway a huge thank you to my wife Sarah and to all my staff, my son Daniel, Sid, Justine, Kevin, Kat, Kiera, Pete, Ronnie and Roy and of course Linda, a big thank you to the GTA and the sponsors Gain and Lord Hesketh, Kevin Ackerman and all at Towcester making it such a special night!
Now we move onto the Star Sports Greyhound Derby and I have entered 10 runners for the event, I will go into depth on our runners and chances next week.
Cotton Pants got our week off to a great start winning the Bresmed Northern Sprint at Sheffield on Tuesday. On Thursday at Hove in preparation for the forthcoming Regency Roswell Romanov ran ok in a hot trial stake when 4th, Kiltrea Mike also recovered from a tardy start to finish well when second but it was the performance of Aayamza Breeze that had many people talking. Knocked over in last year's final when a beaten favourite and then a couple of months later she went lame in a one off 695m race, a broken hock was superbly put back together by vet Daniel Doherty and we gave the whole of winter for her recovery. She has came back with an excellent set of trials and an A5 to blow the cobwebs away, her comeback 6 bend trial the week before at Towcester also was very good and we made a brave decision to go back to Hove for a trial stake. Behind at the first three bends she simply took off down the back straight leading on the run in to score by a couple of lengths in an excellent 41.76.
On Friday good news at Central Park as both Parkers Dynamite and Swift Dartmoor qualifyied for the Grand National final while over at Romford we kicked off with a winner when Plan Ahead took a Winner Of One Standard in a good 24.19. Tread Lightly qualified for the Friday Night 500 Sprint Final when 3rd in his heat and our Northern Sprint winner Cotton Pants made a quick but successful reappearance taking his heat of the Friday Night 500 Standard in 24.02. Ninja Penny looked a likely winner in a bitches 575m but kennelmate Towstar Jess had other ideas as she led at the first bend and held off Ninja Penny to win in 35.92.
As well as our glorious GTA Trainers Championship win & Bruisers Bullet's Derby trial stake victory on Saturday night in form Ninja Fortune took another trial stake in good style in 29.53.
On Friday youngster Koroleva Queen came closest of our runners when second. A better morning on Saturday as Roben Katie opened her account winning an A8 in a good 28.98 and Tiffield Lad followed up last week's win when taking an A4 well in 28.52.
On Sunday we had four nice winners with No Can Boogie winning well in 29.26. Swift Lisetta just got up to score in an A8 in 29.18 while Jazz Jake was impressive in an A6 scoring by over 5 lengths in a good 28.72. Youngster Aayamza Elseve won from off the pace in an A7 in 29.02.
PERFORMANCE OF THE WEEK
OPEN RACING - RUBYS RASCAL
WHAT'S ON NEXT WEEK
Today we have a few runners in the rescheduled Lawrence Jones festival at Monmore, on Thursday we have 8 runners in the Coral Regency at Hove with last year's finalists Aayamza Breeze and Rubys Rascal heading our team.
Back to Romford on Friday with two minor finals for Cotton Pants and Tread Lightly but all eyes will be on Central Park where Parkers Dynamite and Swift Dartmoor take on Razldazl Raidio in the Grand National final.
WEBSITE RECOMMENDED BETS
Wow I hope everyone availed themselves to a bit of the 6/1 for us to win the Trainers Championship on Saturday as recommended.Hopefully this Friday we will get another decent payday as Parkers Dynamite is now as short as 5/2 to land the Grand National at Central Park, the 25/1 generally available looks huge now.
The Coral Regency kicks off tomorrow night and we have eight entries. Aayamza Breeze and Rubys Rascal are 8/1 and 10/1 respectively and of all ours I feel both have a decent chance of landing the event. For a maximum bet I fancy our Cotton Pants to land the Friday Night 500 Standard final at Romford.
AAYAMZA BREEZE - 2.5 pts ew ante post 8/1 - Coral Regency - Hove - starts Thursday
RUBYS RASCAL - 2.5 pts ew ante post 10/1 - Coral Regency - Hove - starts Thursday
COTTON PANTS - 5 pts win - Romford - Friday
ADVISED LAST WEEK
MARK WALLIS - 5 pts win - Trainers Championship meeting - Towcester - Saturday - WON 9/2 (6/1 in places) 27.5 pts profit
PARKERS DYNAMITE - 1.5 pts ew ante post - Grand National - Central Park - final Friday