26th January 2021
Our excellent start to 2021 got even better on Friday as Antigua Romeo took the honours at Romford when scorching to a brilliant victory in the Category One Coral Essex Vase. It was a much anticipated final worth £10,000 to the winner with a superb line up, track record holder Sparta Master was made favourite with plenty of support coming for our other runner Antigua Rum in trap 6 while 2019 Essex Vase winner Droopys Aoife in trap 1 was solid in the market. The race effectively was put to bed in a matter of strides as the underestimated Antigua Romeo broke a touch in front and fairly ‘took off’ to the corner, recording a tremendous 13.28 sectional, Droopys Aoife ran fantastic and gave chase all the way round but Romeo was gone beyond recall and held his rival to win by 2 1/4 lengths in a superb 34.66 for owners Amanda and Nic Jeal. The time was just a length outside the track record and credit to Antigua Rum who ran on well after being held up to finish a creditable 3rd just 3 1/2 lengths behind Romeo. See race video here.
Antigua Romeo had only been stepped up to 575m at the end of November and I fully admit I didn’t hold the confidence of the owners Nic and Amanda that he would stay the trip but once he won his debut race over the sharp six bends I certainly had no fears and Romeo has thrived the more he has run over 575m winning five from seven times despite him getting close to his fourth birthday in May. With not much in the calendar we will now give him a trial at Crayford in preparation for the Peter Bussey Memorial coming up in a couple of weeks' time. His victory as also got us off to a good start as we try to reclaim our Trainer of the Year title won last year by Patrick Janssens, more importantly to get that Category One victory early in the season, we had to wait until September last year, gives us a real boost in these challenging times.
The Blue Riband heats at Towcester had to be rescheduled for tomorrow afternoon due to a frozen track on Saturday night, it was a real shame as Towcester’s policy of only being able to watch the event via Towcester TV for a small fee of £5 was a real hit with some 1600 subscribers. With the money now refunded and everyone being able to watch the heats on Wednesday for free Kevin Boothby has to be applauded and if the Covid continues to stop spectators going to the tracks it might be a viable way of having decent open race meetings on Saturday nights in the future.
The semi finals of the Blue Riband will now be Sunday on their SIS card with the final still at this stage being a week Saturday with supporting opens. Crayford with the forthcoming Golden Jacket and Peter Bussey competitions on the horizon is in full flow and had a good card last Saturday over a variety of trips. Our runners went well and we were a touch unlucky not to come away with another winner or two, most impressive was Bo Shine Bullet making her debut as this young stayer showed great pace to land a 714m Maiden by over 5 lengths in a fine 45.46. Her time compared well to St Leger champion Smallmead when dead heating with the exciting TV Trophy runner up Redzer Renae in 45.45 just one spot quicker. Antigua Fire was back in 3rd and our veteran ran well but seems to have lost that vital touch of early pace. The Golden Jacket will be his swan song on what has been a magnificent career. Aayamza Lexie put a good field to the sword over 540m winning well in a fine 33.50 and was drawing away at the finish and a try over 714m looks worth attempting, she has won 9 races from 15 starts and certainly could shake the market up if she did stay the extra distance. As said previously we are unlikely to enter Aayamza Royale in the event as 714m is way too short for her, I see she is still 14/1 with the sponsors and unless myself and the owners have a complete change of heart I wouldn’t advise betting her. Antigua Rum a semi finalist last year will certainly have another crack at the competition though again last year he only just saw out the trip at top pace, if he can improve slightly he would be a big player. Another veteran Avastorm hasn’t been the bitch she was last year but loves Crayford and she will also have her last races in the Golden Jacket before retiring, she looked in better form last week with an excellent 33.50 trial over 540m. Anhid News is another who will be given a go at the event and was a touch unlucky on Saturday in a Maiden 714m and really could be anything.
The Crayford events were given a further boost as RPGTV announced that they will be doing a Saturday morning show from the 6th February covering Crayford and Romford. With betting shops looked set to be closed for a good while yet it certainly gives greyhound fans the chance to watch some top class action free of charge and again proves that our sport provides a vital part of the bookmakers service. With the sport proving it can be run safely through Covid maybe it should be recognised by them a bit more by some extra funds being thrown our way that doesn’t just benefit the bookmaker owned tracks but the industry as a whole. In Paul Brown's Monday column in the Racing Post he excellently highlights the need to keep the top end of our sport strong as this indeed is why breeders breed in the first place. I would also highlight the fact that our sport has a chance to shine in these difficult times where so many sports can’t take place and the vast majority of people are told to ‘stay home’ whether it be through social media or the dedicated channel RPGTV. The dogs are the ‘stars’ and our welfare side is now something to be proud of with many people seeing right through the ‘antis’ lies and deceit. What about creating mega jackpots that could entice thousands of casual viewers to our sport, it doesn’t have to be through the bookmakers who would no doubt take a huge cut from this, why can’t we organise it ourselves with the help of the GBGB and everything earned goes back into the sport to help every aspect whether it be grassroots or ring fencing that top end and certainly to try and ignite the breeding side. The chance to perhaps win £250,000 by simply picking winners or forecasts if promoted correctly would surely draw in the stay at home brigade? To do this would mean advertising outside of what we have already (bookmakers and RPGTV) so mainstream TV and National newspapers not just the Racing Post would of course need a bit of investment, a job for Mark Moisley to get stuck into maybe.
Antigua Romeo was awesome winning the Essex Vase Final on Friday night and we just had a handful of runners in the supporting races. In the heats of the Friday Night 500 Bitches in form Innfield Kaci won her 7th race from 15 starts holding on to win by a neck in 24.12 while Playbook bounced back to her very best when winning her heat in an excellent 23.88.. As said a decent night at Crayford on Saturday with Bo Shine Bullet winning on debut over 714m and Aayamza Lexie winning well over 540m.
On Monday we had three nice winners with Innfield Kaci taking an A2 in good style in a fine 27.71, Scrahane Boss rewarded some consistent efforts with a debut win in an A9 in 28.21 and Bobs Boy completed a great hat trick winning an A8 in 28.47.
On Tuesday evening Formel Jet won very well in an A5 by nearly 6 lengths in a fast 27.74, Saffrons Smash made a winning debut taking an A4 by 3 lengths in a good 28.09 while Lost Without You completed a hat trick when dead heating in an A8 in 28.66.
On Thursday we just had the one winner as Energize Bingo scored again in a fine 27.98.
PERFORMANCE OF THE WEEK
OPEN RACING - ANTIGUA ROMEO
WHAT’S ON NEXT WEEK
The Blue Riband heats have now been scheduled for Wednesday afternoon with the semi finals on Sunday afternoon.
We will be at Romford on Friday and both Playbook and Innfield Kaci will look to dominate from the off to land the Friday Night 500 Bitches Final.
On Saturday we have important Trial Stakes for both the Golden Jacket and the Peter Bussey Memorial while we may also be at Monmore on Saturday night.
WEBSITE RECOMMENDED BETS
A great start to the year as Antigua Romeo blasted to an Essex Vase victory and I’m so pleased I advised a bet on him going into the final as he obliged at 8/1 while we still landed the each way on Antigua Rum at 12/1 as he finished a creditable 3rd.
The Blue Riband is delayed until tomorrow so our each way on Hopes Bullet still stands and we will leave it at that.
HOPES BULLET - 1 pt ew ante post 25/1 - Blue Riband - Towcester - starts Wednesday
ADVISED LAST WEEK
ANTIGUA ROMEO - 1 pt ew 15/2 - Coral Essex Vase Final - Romford - Friday - WON 8/1
ANTIGUA RUM - 2 pts ew ante post - Coral Essex Vase Final - Romford - Final Friday - 3RD 12/1