27th December 2016
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I hope everyone is enjoying the Christmas break, we are fast approaching the final week of the season and last week was another packed with highs and lows. On Monday Ela Ela Genie got squeezed out at the first bend in the National Sprint final at Nottingham on Monday eventually finishing 4th beaten 3 lengths. That was his last race of a very good year and we will be hoping for a prolific 2017 especially with no Walshes Hill around.
The rest of the week we were busy preparing for Friday where we had 11 runners at Romford and more importantly a small matter of a Bags Championship Grand Final at Perry Barr. In all we had six of the ten strong team for Towcester and on paper the whole finals looked very competitive, there was a lot of late money for Sheffield and Towcester were installed second favourites with most bookmakers to retain their crown.
There was an excellent crowd present on a blustery and wet afternoon with plenty of supporters from each track to cheer their teams home and with no horse racing a decent viewing public both in the betting shops and on Sky was guaranteed and as expected a thrilling contest was about to unfold. Our first runner Adageo Gold showed great pace but from trap 4 could never get across to the rails in the youngsters race eventually finishing 4th. Swift Bravo in the Division 2 of the Dogs Standard again showed pace but was pushed wide around the second bend and again down the back straight and he also finished 4th. With Romford winning both legs our six points amassed wasn't the best start, we also had the third race runner in Garryglass Pixie in the Bitches Standard Division 2 and after a slow start she railed lovely to chase the Nottingham runner down the back straight and in a tight finish it looked like she had got up in the last stride but the angle at Perry Barr is deceptive and to many people's surprise the result saw her beaten a short head but a good seven points secured. The next two races saw Kevin Hutton's Forrest Luck finish 5th and with the winners being shared around after 4 races Towcester were plum last though not a lot separated the six teams. A good second in leg 5 by Kevin Hutton's Far Bank Frank meant a lot was riding on our sprinter Swift Dartmoor. As the hare approached the traps looked like they were opening early and then quickly came back down before the they were opened properly. There's no doubt in many cases the race would have been voided but the race was allowed to stand, typically this effected our runner more than most as he stumbled coming out and in the end did well to grab 4th place. Though Towcester were at this point sitting in 5th place overall they were some 17 points behind leaders Romford with both Sheffield and Newcastle breathing right down their necks it looked a hopeless task.
Step in 'Team Captain' Macs On Storm, unbeaten in three legs of the event and with a win in the pre qualifying leg at Sheffield it was a case of only a win would possibly get us right back in the mix and in a howling gale and lashing rain he didn't let us down flashing out the traps and winning in all the way style by a magnificent 5 1/4 lengths in a fastest of the day 28.55. With The Romford runner finishing second meant Towcester were still 14 points behind and in the next race the top division of the Bitches Kevin Hutton had been forced to bring a reserve in Stepitonstacey, to everyone of Towcester's supporters surprise she bolted out the boxes and never looked like getting beat winning comfortably and with Romford's runner last we had closed the gap to within 5 points. Patrick Janssen's Slick Strauss was Towcester's banker of the meeting and wow! did he run well in the top division of the Stayers coming from well off the pace to land the spoils in dramatic style sending the Towcester crowd delirious. The scores now meant that only Towcester and Romford could win and we now held a six point lead going into the final leg the Elite race.
As usual this was a classy affair with some top open racers including the Romford Puppy Cup winner Kooga Klammer for Peterborough and the super fast Newcastle raider Droopys Five, Romford had the multi talented Ajlo Legalbeagle and a win for them with our own Ballymac Shirley out the first four would see them still lift the title. My pre race thoughts were not good as I knew Shirley hated the rain and conditions didn't really suit her, she's all about the break and my heart sank as she fell out the traps, up front Kooga Klammer set sail for home but Ajlo Legalbeagle was in a menacing 3rd spot down the back straight. At this point disaster struck as Ballymac Shirley running a touch half heartedly in the conditions broke down and clearly she had gone seriously lame. From a Championship point my focus was lost as we tried to halt Shirley's attempts to run on but for the record Kooga Klammer went on to win the race in style with Ajlo Legalbeagle only third meaning Towcester brilliantly and dramatically retained the trophy.
Celebrations were slightly muted in the grandstand with news of Shirley's injury but that is part of racing and sad as it was it does happen occasionally. Myself and Keira attended to her while the celebrations were going on as the vet strapped our stricken bitch up and unfortunately it did look serious but a good job was done by the vet in attendance and she was made comfortable for the journey home. The Perry Barr team were exceptional and I thank them for their obvious concerns which included a call the next day to see how she was.
I managed to pop up for a quick drink and to congratulate the Towcester racing office and Chief Executive Kevin Ackerman who made a kind offer to pick up any vet bills incurred by the injury to Ballymac Shirley, this was very kind of them and much appreciated. It was a magnificent effort overall to retain this trophy and they were very grateful to our kennel for mostly getting them to the final in the first place, it had been a tough qualifying series. There's no doubt this event has been a huge success and embraced by all the tracks that took part.
I had an enormous amount of texts and emails that night and the following day on Shirley's welfare and the next day I took her to Stefano Malegori's practice at Little Warley near Brentwood where his assistant Mario had agreed to meet me to x ray the damage to her hock. Sadly this was worse than first thought and her hock was broken in several places. A call from Mario to Stefano at his home in Charlton where he was off for a few days with his family to discuss the injury meant there was only one option and that was to operate as soon as possible. Without hesitation Stefano jumped in his car and drove across London to be at the surgery while Mario prepared Shirley. I was happy to wait and several hours later the operation involving a multitude of metalwork seemed successful and late on Christmas Eve night I brought her back home to the kennels and I'm pleased to say she now looks as happy as Larry rested up with her legs in the air and spoiled rotten! We will be taking her back to Srefano's on Friday and fingers crossed any infection that might set in stays away as this is crucial to her recovery. She is of course the sister to Irish Derby winner Ballymac Matt and as well as being a very decent open racer she is a very valuable potential brood bitch though I would stress that we, and the vets, would do this for any greyhound in our care. I can't thank Stefano and Mario enough for their time and effort and I really don't think people realise sometimes what we all do for our beloved greyhounds, hopefully it will be a very happy ending.
As mentioned we had plenty of runners at Romford on Friday night and we were very much on form, four winners could have easily been seven or eight with a bit more luck. Calco Flyer, Mashmad Eyebrows and Ruby's Razzle all ran well when second but we had good wins with Airforce Duchess (35.42) and Roswell Red Kite (35.97) over 575m while Blastoff Bonnie was most impressive over 750m winning by over 10 lengths in 47.06. Also impressive again was Roswell Romanov who took the Friday Night 500 Stayers final by 5 lengths in a brilliant 34.88, the first of many occasions I believe that he will break the magical 35.00 barrier at Romford.
At Towcester on Tuesday we had just the one winner with Cardens Punch (29.00) and on Saturday in the 8 dog racing we came closest with Saffrons Honey, Cappoquin Jill & Swift Lisetta who were all 3rd.
Our 5 To Follow competition will go right to the wire as we approach the final two meetings of the year at Romford on Friday and Towcester on Saturday morning and the performance of some of the Romford runners will be crucial to who lands the first prize.
That just leaves me to say a very Happy New Year to all our readers, staff and owners and everyone who has made it another stunning year for Imperial Kennels in 2016. My review of the year will be up this time next week and it will be a must read.
PERFORMANCE OF THE WEEK