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Antigua Fire and Brigadier Bullet performed miracles to qualify in their respective heats of the Ladbrokes Summer Stayers at Monmore on Saturday with Fire getting up late and fast to collar Droopys Aoife in 37.87. It was nowhere near his fast 37.36 the week before but in the heat of the battle of a top class competition it was an excellent effort to come from way off the pace, as was Brigadier Bullet's effort to snatch the third qualifying spot. The 630m is a little on the sharp side for both but they will be very strong if they get a run. Antigua Vows at last got a clear run at Monmore and took her chance really well in her heat beating Magical Icarus just over 2 lengths in 37.70 with our exciting prospect Bumblebee Bullet also running on like a train to grab the vital third spot. In the Gold Cup Antigua Sands ran well, just failing to catch the early paced Grays Cup Winner by 3/4 length in a good 28.24, unfortunately Antigua Romeo was eliminated when 4th in his heat. Both Brigadier and Fire have been drawn in the same semi final and though every race looks ultra tough I see no reason why they can’t progress to the final or Antigua Vows. The two competitions are high quality and were well over subscribed which again shows that despite a lot of doom and gloom surrounding the industry the top end of the sport is still very vibrant.
We weren’t so lucky in a small final at Romford where Chubbys Caviar, usually reliable at the traps, missed her break and could only finish 3rd in the Doug Tyler Summer Cup. Romford on Friday, at the moment, is like a building site as they continue to renovate the stadium but you can now start to see they are getting close to finishing the extensive work. Quite how they are going to be ready to reopen next month is head scratching but we are told they are still on schedule which is fantastic news. The buzz on Friday nights for the regular opens was something we all looked forward to each week and many Greyhound racing fans can’t wait to see that return.
Romford’s new stadium would be a shot in the arm for the sport while amazingly there are more than just strong rumours that Towcester could well return by next Spring. Talks are at an advanced stage I’m told with SIS backing the venture which certainly gives it more chance to succeed. I’m getting loads of questions as to whether we would go back to Towcester but that’s something I wouldn’t even talk about until I see confirmation that this could happen. Indeed Henlow’s promoter Kevin Boothby is said to be heavily involved in these talks though I’ve said in the past and made it clear that I wouldn’t step back on the track until I was paid what I was owed by Towcester when it shut so abruptly last August or at least paid the 15k in prize money our owners shockingly lost out on. Maybe there will be plenty of trainers who weren’t too bothered by what they were owed who would jump at the chance to return, as for many the money they were owed would substantially less than our amount, whatever happens, if it did return, it would surely be a major boost to the industry. The two Derby’s held at Towcester were without doubt the best since the old White City days and produced two fantastic and classy winners as well as two memorable nights' racing. I still get a buzz watching Aayamza Breeze come from last to first in a sensational 8 dog Dorando Marathon in 2017, it’s amazing that Breeze only last week was still running and winning races! With Towcester it’s a case of ‘watch this space’!
Look out this week as I’m going to have a major rethink on our current strength. I’m looking at putting loads of new dogs on our ‘For Sale’ page with the vast majority having huge discount to stay in our kennel. Our partnership with Gary Goulden at Energize Kennels in Ireland works very well and there are some lovely young pups available for sale while we also will have dogs for sale to enjoy at Henlow and for open racing.
On Friday at Romford we started the night off with three seconds as Aayamza Express (ran very well) and Chubbys Turkana both qualified for the Friday Night Maiden Stayers final and Calco Cool ran well to be beaten just 3/4 length in a 750m Maiden. Thankfully we didn’t go home empty handed as Aayamza Breeze
ran superbly in a good 750m race to hold off Savana Winner by the shortest margin in 46.95.
As said we did well at Monmore on Saturday night though we were overall a shade disappointed that we could nick more than just one winner in the opens at Henlow on Sunday with Brinkleys Rosie looking back to her best scoring in a fast 27.45 over 460m.
On Tuesday morning youngster Jesses Sister came closest to winning when running well to be beaten a short head in 28.35.
In the evening Towstar Zelda won well in an A5 in 28.05.
On Friday Playbook, a February 18 whelp, ran well on debut to finish second as did our old stager Gully Foyle while we were largely out of luck on Sunday and on the week overall.
PERFORMANCE OF THE WEEK
OPEN RACING - AAYAMZA BREEZE
GRADED - TOWSTAR ZELDA
WHAT'S ON NEXT WEEK
We have a couple of runners at Yarmouth on Thursday including Aayamza Breeze in a marathon while we look forward on Friday to Romford where both Aayamza Express and Chubbys Turkana run in the Friday Night Maiden Stayers final.
On Saturday at Monmore the Ladbrokes Gold Cup and Summer Stayers sees plenty of interest for the kennel while on Sunday Henlow will hold some top grade Sweepstakes over various distances as well as some opens.
On Monday the Puppy Classic kicks off at Nottingham and Antigua Rum will take his chance after running well last Monday when second in a trial stake.
WEBSITE RECOMMENDED BETS
Our ante post selection Antigua Fire in the Ladbrokes Summer Stayers at Monmore on Saturday didn’t disappoint as he came from last to first to take his heat and is generally still favourite to win the event that continues on Saturday. Our outsider selection Tiffield Maximus didn’t get accepted for the event.
I can’t see too much else to get stuck into this week so will wait for other opportunities
ADVISED LAST WEEK
ANTIGUA FIRE - 2.5 pts each way ante post 7/1 - Ladbrokes Summer Stayers - Monmore - semis Saturday