29th January 2020
(Opens to a third party website)
A busy couple of days after coming back from another excellent GBGB Awards night in London. With plenty of top class racing on the agenda this week it was time to put the glad rags away for another year and get back to the kennels and get stuck right in, rest assured it wasn’t easy as a very late night Sunday takes it toll every year that I get older!
It was back to the newly refurbished Royal Lancaster opposite Hyde Park for this year's renewal to celebrate the stars on the track and the people who made it happen. After arriving early myself, Sarah and Emily enjoyed drinks and afternoon tea before going up to our very modern and pleasant room to get changed for the evening. Our first major surprise came when we came downstairs to the the foyer as we expected to see and hear a mass of voices outside as there is usually a large contingent of anti Greyhound protesters, amazingly they numbered less than two dozen. Now I’m sure this wasn’t because they couldn’t be bothered or that the weather was terrible as it was a chilly but reasonably decent night, this has to come down to the massive amount of work that the GBGB, Promoters, Greyhound Trusts and all the registered home finders have done over these past couple of years, as well as the huge amount of home finding work all the trainers do, which cannot be under estimated. It seems the war on making sure all greyhounds that race at GBGB licence tracks are found a loving home is beginning to pay off big time, people can see through the antis and their tactics to try and get our sport banned. We still have some work to do not least the incredible situation of the behind the scenes rows between a lot of the Industry stakeholders and the Greyhound Trust which is clearly evident by the absence on the big night for the sport of the Greyhound Trust’s Chief Executive Lisa Morris-Tompkins, very strange considering it’s a huge funding night for the GT and also includes an award recognising the fantastic work by the branches of the trust. This is a bigger issue in my opinion than the media rights war between SIS and Arc, sometimes you just couldn’t make it up, the clear need for the Greyhound Trust to work alongside, and be in full support of the industry, is glaringly obvious, the mistakes made, like dropping the ‘Retired’ off the GT, and the use of the word ‘Rescued’ are clear ones and don’t get me started on that pamphlet sent out last year! rant over!
Now back to the awards. An excellent function room and once again a sterling presenting performance from Hobbsy & Darrell, Greyhound Racing’s very own ‘Ant & Dec’! A lovely three course meal and not too many surprises in the actual awards winners in each category. Unfortunately our only nominee Bumblebee Bullet missed out in the Marathon category for the well supported Bruiser Boys but it was an achievement just to make the final three and optimistic our young star can go one better next year. The two highlights of the the ceremony were the brilliant short film made by the GBGB featuring the delightful Kelli Winderbank showcasing the process many Greyhound trainers go through ensuring the perfect homes that our dogs go to and the forward roll on to the stage from Droopys Life’s owner when picking up the Stayer of the Year award was so funny but brilliant, passionate and made all aware what these awards mean to many.
Congratulations have to go to the K.S.S syndicate and the Liz and Rab Mcnair team for the deserving owner of the year award and of course the biggest certainty of any awards night I’ve ever been to, Ice On Fire, winning the Greyhound of the Year for our good friends Jimmy and Melanie Fenwick, a dog in a million! The special award from the GWA to the family of the belated and most respected Michael Fortune was warmly received by everyone who attended with his son Ian Fortune making a lovely heart felt speech and of course as a former winner I’m always pleased our kennelhands are not forgotten and Hannah Prince (Gerry Ballantine) was another very deserving winner.
I will say it again, and I apologise for being emotional on Sunday, I’m humbled and privileged to have picked up our 11th Trainer of the Year award on behalf of my family and staff at Imperial Kennels, it was a roller coaster ride of a year but ultimately one that ended up being fantastic and we start again this year in a quest for a twelfth crown.
Overall I so much enjoyed the night and yes it was a struggle on Monday but we look forward win, lose or draw to next year's renewal. Myself and Emily will be producing a short podcast in the next day or two after we have edited it and hopefully that captures the great night.
On the track we had a decent week leading up to the weekend, the highlights being a stunning 28.86 run at Hove on Thursday (unofficial track record over the new 500m trip) and that has seen him head the market with some bookmakers for the Category 1 Winter Derby that starts this coming Saturday.
At Romford on Friday we were delighted to attend the evening as guests of Coral for the first ‘Hall of Fame’ night. Linda (Jones) was one of the first recipients of this award and she so much enjoyed going back to Romford where she had a race held in her name and a complimentary meal for four. We had three nice winners on the night including Tiffield Maximus and Alien Sea in the heats of the Friday Night 500 Stayers and a debut win for puppy Loose Chips in a fast 23.87.
On Saturday our preparations for the forthcoming Ladbrokes Golden Jacket got underway and we breathed a sigh of relief as our Kent St Leger winner Antigua Fire came through a hot trial stakes with flying colours. Having his first race since November he beat the likes of last year's Golden Jacket winner Stardom and the stunningly fast Sparta Master in an excellent 45.07 and has now been installed as favourite for the event. He will have a switch to Monmore this week before he returns for the first round a week Saturday. The up and coming Passing Stranger also won well (45.53) while we were delighted with the trials of our recent Coronation Cup winner Antigua Rum (33.34) and our Champion Stakes winner Aayamza Express (33.66). They will all be in action this Saturday at Crayford and hopefully our decent start to 2020 will carry on.
As said on Thursday Antigua Romeo took off in a 500m Winter Derby trial stakes beating the brilliant King Sheran by 1 1/4 lengths in a flying 28.86, the prolific Coolavanny Messi was 4th in another hot race but is more suited to a 480m than this stiffer trip and will miss the Winter Derby.
Loose Chips got us off to a flyer at Romford on Friday winning his first open in a 400m Maiden Puppy race in a very decent 23.86. Both Tiffield Blueboy and Silva Hill qualified for the Friday Night 500 Standard final when runners up in their respective heats while in the Friday Night 500 Stayers heats we had wins for both Tiffield Maximus (35.51) and Alien Sea won well in 35.22.
At Crayford on Saturday as said two nice winners in Golden Jacket trial stakes with Passing Stranger and Antigua Fire while Both Avastorm (3rd) and Longacres Mikey (5th) ran well enough.
On Monday we had no winners from four runners while on Tuesday Algo For You won well in an A3 in a nice 27.75. Energize Bobadoo took an A7 in 28.71 and Ballyfinn Jade at last got her head in front in an A8 in 28.51.
On Thursday from just a few runners Garryglass Charm beat kennelmate Come Home in an A9 in a good 28.58 while on Saturday we saw Towstar Winston win well in an A5 in 28.19 while No Can Boogie got back to winning ways in a tough E1 leading all the way in 43.07.
PERFORMANCE OF THE WEEK
OPEN RACING - ANTIGUA FIRE
WHAT’S ON NEXT WEEK
We have two small finals to look forward to at Romford on Friday both with two runners in each, one over 400m where both Tiffield Blueboy and Silva Hill face tough draws and the other over 575m with Alien Sea and Tiffield Maximus have a real chance of victory.
A busy day on Saturday where we will be at four tracks. As well as Henlow in the day time we have in the evening Hove, where the Winter Derby begins, Crayford which has plenty of Golden Jacket trial stakes and we are also at Monmore for their twice monthly festival races.
WEBSITE RECOMMENDED BETS
After a week off last week we have one competition getting under way this week with the Coral Winter Derby starting at Hove on Saturday and we have one dog entered in the shape of the in form Antigua Romeo. His price is now short enough after a brilliant win over King Sheeran last Thursday but as he’s our only runner we must put him up. Looking at Romford on Friday we have two finals with two runners and I know if I tip one the other is bound to win so i will leave that but on the card we have a few runners and I thought Have A Brandy at last has a decent draw and will have a decent chance to get back to winning ways.
ANTIGUA ROMEO - 2 pts ew ante post - Coral Winter Derby - Hove - heats on Saturday
HAVE A BRANDY - 3 pts win - Romford - Friday