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Saturday night at Hove proved to be a an occasion to forget for our kennel where nothing seemed to go right, it happens of course and sometimes you just have to brush yourself down and start again. Certainly leading into the big night, where Antigua Fire was odds on favourite to land the Category 1 Coral Regency Final, our expectations were high and we took six other runners who all seemed to have reasonable chances. It didn’t start well when maybe one of our lesser chances Masonspeedymac was well beaten in a 515m and then our lovely staying prospect Schooldays made a hash of the start in the Regency consolation race, worse still as he flew to the corner he pulled up sharp to avoid crashing into the back of rivals and in doing so tore his gracilis muscle, hopefully he can make a full recovery in a few months time and return to the track to fulfil his promise. Jaxx Purple looked all over the winner down the back straight in the Dual Distance Final over 515m but somehow managed to be beaten a head on the line, the well fancied Glassmoss Sis led in the stamina sapping 945m marathon but blew up after 800m finishing 4th.
In the Regency Final itself Antigua Fire couldn’t have got everything more wrong, he fell out the traps and despite the field bunching at the third turn instead of swooping round the outside he decided to cut into the middle and finding his path blocked, then as they approached the last turn it looked as if he was going to swoop late and fast to perhaps snatch the title he inexplicably decided to cut back in the middle again losing all momentum and though only beaten just over a length he was back in 4th place behind the fast finishing Zascandil of Kevin Boon. If you could run the race again I’ve no doubt he could have made better decisions when to pass but that’s greyhound racing and if every favourite won there would be no bookmakers that’s for sure and the beauty of the sport is that on any given day every dog has a chance to win once they go in the traps. We proceeded to see two favourites beaten in the shape of Ivy Hill Skyhigh and Playbook to complete a miserable night on the track but let’s take the positives and it was probably the best night's greyhound action since the start of the horrid Covid disease began to interrupt our lives back in March. Congratulations to Kevin Boon and of course Patrick Janssen's brilliant Bockos Doomie for winning the Sussex Cup.
The results on the night see a huge change in the Trainer of the Year standings as Patrick flip flops with us at the top of the standings and we find ourselves in a similar position to this time last year. Then we had an incredible run of results in September/October which enabled us to come back and land the title though I suspect this year it’s going to be considerably harder, Patrick has a deep array of talented greyhounds to run this year and is sure to pick up some more top prizes and with Bockos Doomie maybe even a first Derby and the very best of luck to him. We are certainly lacking in top class dogs at the moment and with a few on the sidelines like Antigua Rum, Antigua Romeo and Coolavanny Messi we are likely to be going further behind in the next few weeks. Covid19 has not been kind to us but we do however have a lot of new dogs coming in over the next few weeks and hopefully some future stars amongst them. Our owners are hugely supportive and the return next week of Aayamza Royale will be a real boost to the strength. We have a healthy graded strength both at Henlow and Towcester which is key to our business financially and surprisingly the phone hasn’t stopped ringing, so to speak, with new owners coming in all the time. We might be down a bit on our luck but business wise I’m delighted that in these difficult times we look to have a bright future.
Talking of bright futures the new appointment of a executive commercial director for the GBGB is most welcome. Mark Moisley’s CV looks impressive on paper and I’m always one to give someone a chance before criticising anything. I have to agree with the statement Mark Bird put out that ‘British greyhound racing is an exciting, historic welfare-centric sport’ though I question Mark Moisley’s response that ‘Greyhound racing is a vibrant, thriving and an exciting sport’ , Mark!!! Greyhound racing is not vibrant, we are suffering from track closures, media rights wars that do the sport no favours, we are faced with a seriously underfunded industry that certain promoters dominate and what little funds are left over are carved up between themselves and a terrible lack of vision in the sport where we are just becoming no more than a bookmakers product, the history is being lost at the top end of the sport, where in many cases, we race for less prize money than we did when I first took over from Linda in 2005, the registration of new owners is on an ever decreasing downward trend and breeding is becoming no more than a hobby rather than a profession which will hugely impact the amount of greyhounds being available in the future and trainers whose numbers have been decimated over the last few years as it gets harder and harder to run a viable business. Vibrant! I don’t think so!
Welfare has indeed been the only real plus in our sport in recent years and Mark Bird has led the way magnificently in this, that is the basis where we can all rebuild again. Mark Bird, in my opinion, is the best man for the job but he needs help, the structure of the GBGB has to be changed and he can be the man to lead this change but big decisions have to be made not least the serious conflict of interests in our GBGB structure which they don’t need me telling them this as they already know this, it would be unacceptable in any other industry and I’m not having a go personally, it’s the way it is. Mark Moisley should have one main task to start with and that is to secure more funding from the bookmakers, promoters, government or whoever can aid the cause. Without more funding in the sport we are set for more track closures, we will lose more owners and greyhounds themselves and will be scarcer than a trophy in a Spurs cabinet (sorry Spurs fans!). If we are not careful we will just become a bookmakers product with no history being made. Anything else he can do is a bonus but eyes need opening, a commercial director is needed and should have been done a lot sooner and this job will undoubtedly be Mark Moisley’s biggest challenge in his working career, hopefully he is up to the task as thousands of people in the industry will be relying on a quick and robust response to the challenges set.
I’m never one to be totally negative and I’m loving the idea of the new National Greyhound Supporters Club being set up by David Mitchell, head of the successful Blue Tick Syndicate. Open to anyone who loves greyhound racing the club could generate serious interest and has one sole aim to promote and rejuvenate our sport. A multitude of ideas are being put forward including a way to find funding to sponsor races and competitions at all levels throughout the sport. I would say that the promoters and maybe even the GBGB are sceptical of such an idea and indeed it needs to embrace the sport rather than be confrontational so surely even the aforementioned should welcome such a club. This type of idea works brilliantly in Australia and I see no reason why it couldn’t be a fresh new approach to help take the sport in the right direction. I won’t lie, a couple of years ago I was seriously thinking of calling it a day, especially when Towcester closed which left me wondering if the sport had any future. The huge support of some of my owners new and old has completely changed my mind as well as the fact our children Daniel and Emily love the sport so much and are deeply involved I now have a real hunger not only to see our kennel survive and thrive but the sport also. The prospect of a NGSC and the reopening of Towcester, which should be brilliant under Kevin Boothby, once we get past this horrible Covid pandemic, makes me think there could be a brighter future.
As said recently we are trying to get our popular 5 To Follow competition up and running for the last four months of the year and anyone who is interested in being a new owner in our kennel watch out for some new pups that will come up on our website For Sale page in the next few weeks.
As you know I’m a huge golf fanatic and love watching my small weekly bets on both the European and PGA tours. I’ve had a fair degree of success over the years but with a lot of 150+ fields its very easy to not get a look in some weeks but when you do hit a winner or even a rare cross double it pays handsomely. I’m in decent form of late and this week sees the first major of the year in the shape of the PGA Championship and last week's St Jude winner Justin Thomas is a worthy favourite and is the form choice. My nap is Xander Schaufelle at around 20/1 while I can see veteran Phil Mickleson going well at 80/1 + (I might have a decent bet at 7/4 for him to be top left hander with only 3 other out of form players to beat) and at a huge price Emilliano Grillo could sneak a place (250/1) but as always I might be a mile away. Interesting how the players react to a major behind closed doors.
Just four runners at Romford on Friday and it was nice to see Passing Stranger bounce back to form being our only winner in a 750m and in a flying time (46.90) as well.
We have mentioned Saturday night's disaster at Hove and the less said about that the better.
HENLOW AND TOWCESTER REVIEW
A very disappointing start to the week as well with no winners from our runners on Monday and Tuesday but to be fair a lot were coming off the back of wins and some from two consecutive wins.
We did have two winners Thursday as Craigie Boy took an A7 by a short head in 28.22 and Ripley Guru won well in an A9 in 28.45.
A better day on Saturday Bobs Queen won well at last in 28.63 in an A10. A rare Domino double saw Domino Charm win an A9 in 28.40 and Domino Ninja also won in an A9 in 28.49 for a 20/1 + double. Jesses Sister returned from open racing to show her class and land an A2 in a fast 27.63.
At Towcester on Sunday from our six runners it was nice to see veteran Silva Hill return to win a D1 in a good 16.02.
PERFORMANCE OF THE WEEK
OPEN RACING - PASSING STRANGER
GRADED - DOMINO NINJA
WHAT’S ON NEXT WEEK
We are having a very quiet week this week which is not a bad thing with the weather predicting to be very hot later in the week. We will look forward to taking a few dogs to Monmore on Saturday night.
WEBSITE RECOMMENDED BETS
A disaster is maybe the wrong word to use when expectations are high of winning races so maybe just a bad day at the office is more appropriate. Antigua Fire looking like the proverbial good thing in the Regency Final was only fourth while our single bet Schooldays tore a gracilis in his race so we were properly out of luck.
Looking for a bet and I’m taking a chance on how strong the race might be but we will try Jaxx Purple over 630m this week at Monmore where hopefully the step up in trip will suit.
JAXX PURPLE - 2 pts win - Monmore - Saturday
ADVISED LAST WEEK
ANTIGUA FIRE - 5 pts win ante post - Coral Regency - Hove - lost
SCHOOLDAYS - 3 pts win - Hove - Saturday - lost