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Bombers Bullet produced his best run in the Coral Champion Stakes at Romford on Friday when it mattered as he blasted out the boxes in the final and unexpectedly led round the first two bends, that was as good as race over though there was plenty of drama in behind. Both our runners, Bombers Bullet and Saleen Ash flew from the traps but Saleen Ash slightly stumbled as he brushed trap 5 Ower Boy Bullet and that was as good as race over for him as a lead was essential. While Bomber led up on the inside, the roars from the Bruiser Boyz Syndicate went up which was evident in such a small crowd as there is still restricted access to the stadium, Ower Boy Bullet turned in second and chased in vain but the drama unfolded as we approached the last turn. Heather Dimmock’s Kanturk Repeat showed incredible pace to move into third and looked set to pass Ower Boy Bullet for second place and for a second I was thinking that the 4 length lead of Bombers might get evaporated but when you see pace like that quite often it’s for the wrong reason and as they swung for home Kanturk Repeat took a complete right turn to put Ower Boy Bullet out of the game and in the process distracting the other runners behind him. It didn't affect Bombers Bullet and he duly picked up the £10,000 first prize, Clash was second 7 1/2 lengths behind with Saleen Ash 3rd.
That was the fourth consecutive Group 1 final Bombers Bullet has made. Now a Derby finalist, a winner of the William Hill Grand Prix at Sunderland, just touched off in the Ladbrokes Summer Stayers Classic at Monmore and now the Coral Champion Stakes winner he must have serious claims of being the leading contender for the Greyhound of the Year title. He now has a short rest before we tackle the Yorkshire St Leger at Doncaster in a couple of weeks' time. Saleen Ash will look to stay at these intermediate type distances though he does have enough early for the stiff four bends. The points gained from Friday have once again seen us establish a huge lead at the top of the Trainer of the Year standings which is always good.
One thing of note while we were at Romford was seeing the work being done on the stadium. It’s due to be completed next March and in these difficult times it will be a huge boost to the sport, over the years the Friday open race night at Romford has been one of the highlights of the week and their regular competitions have been a huge help to our kennel to keep us at the top of the Championship. Hove are also having a facelift so despite the feeling of doom and gloom in the sport with the recent closures at Towcester, Hall Green and Wimbledon there is a small ray of light. More worrying for the industry is the loss of the Sky coverage last year which we need to showcase our sport's major events and this along with the closures is starting to have a real impact on the owners who like to pay decent money for a Greyhound to compete in these events. If that reduces then this will have a snowball effect on breeders who also rely on selling a certain amount of ‘big money’ purchases to keep their operations going, if they reduce their breeding then the shortage of dogs will have a massive impact on the industry. A major rethink is needed in my view but these days you have to ask why is Greyhound racing not attractive to the likes of Sky, BT Sport and any of the new digital channels? if the answer is because of the welfare side then we really are a sport in trouble.
We are settling into Henlow really well with over 30 runners available for grading and hope to have that number up to around 45 by the end of the month. They are certainly using the extra money they get from SIS really well and continue to plough it back into the stadium as well as making sure the prize money levels are as good as they can be. Some of our ex Towcester runners will take a while to get used to the quirky venue but already we have seen a couple being completely refreshed from a change of scenery. Their open race cards on Sundays are getting better each week and this will help our higher class dogs get runs, and the promise of some decent Category 2 events each month will be very competitive. Talk of the Oaks moving to Henlow would complete an excellent addition for the track. We still have a sour taste in our mouth from the Towcester fall out where we now await what the administrators have to offer us and when that might be. My chief concern is chasing the prize money owed for the seven week period we were not paid. Yes we have taken a real hit ourselves but thankfully for the time being it’s not killed us with all our staff wages, suppliers, rents and any other bills we needed to pay done so well in advance. Some out there might revel in the turmoil created by Towcester’s closure but we are lucky to have very supportive owners and with the help from Henlow and a welfare payment by the GBGB we will pick ourselves up quickly. I hope to spend plenty of time in the coming weeks on finding additional owners to enjoy both Henlow and open racing, again it’s tough out there but we will dig deep to survive, my staff's and the kennel's future depends on this and I won’t let them down.
This week I meet with the GBGB on the pilot scheme to create an Apprenticeship within the sport and this basically this will give people, youngsters especially, a chance to gain a proper qualification. Many might question such a move in an industry that is deemed to be rapidly declining but in my opinion this would make a stronger case to have such a scheme in place, any qualification gained that is government approved will help youngsters, especially, if they seek work elsewhere in such areas as veterinary, agriculture or really anything to do with working with animals. For the employer, this particular apprenticeship will not involve students going on college courses (I believe that this side will be covered by a short online programme) meaning trainers won’t lose their apprentice for a day or two, nor will it give the chance for employers to pay a pittance for apprentices, this is something I will be very strong on if I have any input or for me to take part in such a scheme. I strongly believe if we can get as many trainers as we can taking part it can only be a positive for the industry. Everything will be done not to impact on trainers' time which in this day and age is vital and, though I’m not quite sure what yet, there will be financial gains which employers can claim. The key for me, as I say, is helping youngsters to have a qualification that will be helpful if they seek employment elsewhere and also helpful if they are to stay in the industry and also this qualification may help bring school leavers into the industry if this was in place though I’m sure plenty out there will say this is wishful thinking. Of course there will always be plenty of knockers out there but sometimes you can’t win, if you never do anything you get criticised and when you do try to do something you still get criticism, I will live with that. I intend to ask my son Daniel, who has worked with me since leaving school, to take part in this apprentice scheme to help lead the way, hopefully he will be able to give plenty of feedback to encourage other trainers to get involved.
On the subject of the GBGB I have recently taken plenty of criticism from people thinking I’ve supported both them and Mark Bird in what they do or don’t do for the industry, that’s not the case though I’m happy to give them a chance to turn things around. As I’ve said a number of times the problem we all face more than anything is the fact Greyhound racing is no longer a popular ‘live sport’ entertainment and it has failed for a number of years to capture the imagination of youngsters who seem to have a million and one other things to be entertained by. Promoters can take a huge amount of blame as they have taken the short term survival route with ‘bookmakers' payments’ way too easily without stronger negotiation and there seems to be no longer term vision. Once the promoters went down this road we were always bang in trouble and now with the bookmakers having such a strong hold on the sport we are reduced to catering for their needs which is mainly ‘day time racing’ which suits bookmakers' pockets. Our welfare side of the sport, which I will leave for another time, has also had a major impact on why the industry is declining with many generations of people questioning if racing animals for profit, their words not mine, is socially acceptable and quite rightly also questioning our welfare standards. All I’ve ever said is that Mark Bird faces a near impossible task to reverse these trends but I take people as I find them and he seems to be trying his best. Ultimately he will be judged on whether he achieves anything or not. The whole Board of Directors on the GBGB should either put their heart and soul into turning the industry around or resign and let people on who have a passion to make changes that are both significant and transparent. For me there are three strong points Mark Bird has to achieve but how I’m not sure. Firstly funding, we have to get this back up to levels of around £15 million, secondly we need to get a major TV platform to showcase our best races and thirdly we need a welfare side that we can be proud of as an industry. To sort the third part out we need to sort the first part out and that may well need some government intervention to achieve. The welfare side needs to include a rehoming scheme that homes every retired Greyhound that races on all GBGB licensed tracks, fixes all injuries that occur on the tracks, unless completely impossible on welfare grounds, invests into substantial prize money increases and then, certainly after a horrendous year with injuries on the track, has to put in a huge amount of money and expertise into producing safer running tracks and surfaces. If these huge tasks are achieved all the little problems will easily disappear, for me, I feel the industry has hit rock bottom, over to you Mark.
On the track one of my favourite racers of the last decade or so Roswell Romanov
has been retired this week. After he was knocked out of the Champion Stakes a couple of weeks ago he ran a lacklustre race at Henlow where he is the track record holder and seemed to be looking after himself a touch so myself and his owner Evan Herbert thought this is the right time. Sometimes you have to call a decision on the right time to retire a dog and now seems that moment. He has to be one of the best dogs we have ever trained never to have won a Category 1 event and in March this year at Romford he came so close when just touched off in the delayed Essex Vase by Murrys Act, he did however win one of the Romford ‘big 3’ 575’s when landing the Coronation Cup in 2017 and recently made the Ladbrokes Summer Stayers Classic Final at Monmore. A career spanning three seasons started in A4 grade at Towcester, he won some 42 races from 86 starts which included a plethora of Romford Category 3 events. He was without doubt a remarkable dog and will be guaranteed a nice sofa as he will make a smashing pet very soon.
Brinkleys Rosie qualified in the heats of the Lowther Stakes at Nottingham last Monday when second in her heat but was unfortunately eliminated from last night's hot semi final.
A great night on Friday at Romford with Bombers Bullet landing the Coral Champion Stakes. The Bruiser Boyz Syndicate had a memorable night as Brigadier Bullet took a 575m Maiden supporting Final just getting up right on the line in 35.52 while Baroness Bullet took a 750m Maiden Marathon in fine style by over 7 lengths in 47.12.
On Sunday we didn’t manage to get any qualifiers in the Bedfordshire Sprint semi finals but we had a nice double in the 460m opens as Glory Snake and Kilcree Diamond took both divisions in battling style.
We had plenty of runners in intertracks and a few on graded during the week as we are now almost fully graded on. We had no winners on Monday and on Thursday's card Saleen Story popped up again winning an A4 IT in 28.04.
On Saturday from six runners Swift Lisetta showed that the switch to Henlow is to her liking by winning an A6 by over 10 lengths in a fine 27.87, this form is way above what she achieved at Towcester.
On Sunday Chubbys Turkana ran well and should be winning soon as should Come Home.
PERFORMANCE OF THE WEEK
OPEN RACING - BOMBERS BULLET
GRADED - SWIFT LISETTA
WHAT'S ON NEXT WEEK
We have quite a few commitments at a Henlow this week but on the open race side we send a small team to Sheffield tonight. We will have a few runners at Romford Friday and hopefully at Henlow on Sunday where a Maiden 550m competition gets under way.
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Bombers Bullet never gave his supporters a worry as he landed the Coral Champion Stakes on Friday and an added bonus as well as Saleen Ash got lucky when benefitting from the antics in front of him to finish 3rd and get the e/w money for us.
Not too much to get excited about this week but for a small investment have a look at Calco Cool at Sheffield tonight.
CALCO COOL - 2 pts win - Sheffield- Tuesday
ADVISED LAST WEEK
BOMBERS BULLET - 2.5 pts ew ante post 7/2 - Coral Champion Stakes- Romford - WON (15pts profit)
SALEEN ASH - 1.5 pts ew ante post 12/1 - Coral Champion Stakes- Romford- 3rd 12/1 (3pts profit)
BRIGADIER BULLET - 3 pts win - Romford Friday - WON 3/1 (9 pts profit)