7th December 2015
(Opens to a third party website)
So fairy tales do come true! Yes that's what happened on Tuesday at eight minutes past nine at Romford Stadium in the Mitch Millward Essex Vase Final. The scene is set as Adageo Bob a July 11 whelp competing in his final race of a distinguished career, despite already winning 27 times from 39 races at the Essex venue that big final win had eluded him. A first round elimination behind eventual winner Smiler Jack in the Champion Stakes back in 2013 in his early career gave us no clues as to what was to come. Dick and Ann Barfoot stepped in to buy him when he became available for sale soon after the Champion Stakes and Bob rewarded their faith when winning the British Breeders Stakes Final worth £8,000 at Nottingham a couple of months later. He then returned to Romford for the Essex Vase a much better dog. The final was one of the best races of the year where he was a superb runner up to the brilliant Reel Trickyone breaking the magical 35.00 barrier for the first time, the kennel 1-2 without a doubt won us the Trainer Of The Year title for 2013. Adageo Bob was our leading open race winner of 2013 with 15 open wins.
After a short winter's break Bob returned without success for four races over four bends and was stepped back up to 575m on 25th April and blew many regulars away with an incredible 12 1/2 length success in a flying 34.72 just three spots off the track record. He again romped home the next week in the heats of the Quicksilver but his Romford woes struck as he was withdrawn from the final with an infected toe. After making the final of the Grand Prix at Sunderland (6th) it was all systems go for the Champion Stakes and he warmed up with six scintillating wins on the spin and was quickly becoming a crowd favourite. After winning his heat a missed break and a bad bump soon after the lids opened meant the dream was over this time around. A short break with the Essex Vase in mind saw him return winning the heat of the Terry Jago Memorial but in the final he was beaten by the Champion Stakes hero and track record holder Airport Captain. The Essex Vase was next and after again winning his heat in a flying 34.76 he was made a warm favourite to win the event. What happened next in the semi final was well documented as we failed to make the track in time (traffic and weather problems) to run him. To say we were all disappointed is an understatement and we wondered if his best chance of landing a Romford big race had gone. He returned on the finals night to win a supporting race by 6 1/2 lengths equalling the track record of 34.67 set by Airport Captain which was a bitter sweet moment. He ended 2014 again as our leading open race winner with 17 open victories.
2015 started in a bitterly cold January and Bob suffered a bit from cramping and clearly wasn't 100% in the heats and semis of the Coronation Cup but was near to his best in the final but found an inspired Soviet Kenny who held him off by 1/2 length in a super fast 34.90, a great run from Bob but again thwarted. Now approaching the veteran age he then won three Friday races on the spin breaking 35.00 on all three occasions with a combined winning margin of 27 1/2 lengths. A popular heat win in the Derby in a very good 28.36 showed his versatility and it was all systems go for the Champion Stakes. A win at Towcester in a Seniors race just before seemed to be ideal preparation but for some reason he left his reliable trapping boots behind. He now thrilled the crowds with last to first victories in the heats and semis and despite a better break in the final something wasn't quite right and though a good 3rd to our own Patchys Kerry 99% of people were either thinking or saying his final chance of landing a big final at Romford had gone.
It was a brave decision to give him one more go in the Essex Vase and a two month rest with a couple of four bend races at Towcester was the way we decided to prepare him. Just as everything was going well three days before the event he came down with the kennel sickness, I couldn't believe our luck and his participation looked in doubt. On the day of the first round he looked better and his weight was fine but I still left my final decision to put him on the van until late in the afternoon. That was the right one as he won well in 35.21 but naturally was a bit short of his best but after a few good days recovery his scintillating victory in the semi finals against three other heat winners in a very good 34.98 set up an emotional final. The days before the final I let him rest up and after I massaged and ultrasounded him the day before the final I was confident he was back to his best.
We had decided a long time ago that this would be Bob's last race but wow! what a great line up. How was a 4 1/2 year old veteran going to beat his younger rivals? The atmosphere at the track was electric and the kennel visit from the Sky team was going down well with audiences. Our first three runners on the supporting card all charged up and it was now time to go around and get him ready for the the final. I had taken and paraded Bob in the heats and semis and there was no way any of our other staff was going to do him for the final as this was the way we like to do it. I was fine up to that point but as I coated him up I became really nervous, the enormity of his task was clear to me and only the fact that Bob looked magnificent and was absolutely bouncing made me settle down. It felt like a Derby final and on parade the crowd was getting excited. The Sky camera was right on him all the way to the traps so I knew they must have been continually talking about him. I'm not a religious man but after I put him smoothly into the traps and whispered in his ears to come home safely I said a little prayer in the hope it would help - it did and all our hard work and loving care over the last 2 1/2 years paid off as Bob flew out the boxes and roared to the first bend. With his main danger Fivestar Clipper right behind him and pacing up Bob flung himself into that first bend like a dog that really meant it and amazingly he came out ahead of his field. That manoeuvre was basically race over. I apologise to those who witnessed me going crazy in the middle of the track but I was going to give him my biggest roar home for the next 30 odd seconds and I did! Scorching away to win by an incredible 8 1/2 lengths his time of 35.05 (-20) was a truly sensational effort and befitting of a great champion like Adageo Bob.
We have had well over 50 Category 1 winners, two Derbys, three St Legers and an Oaks victory to our name and all of these have been brilliant in their own rights but Adageo Bob's victory meant just as much. I can't tell you how gutted I was when we didn't make last year's semi final and I swore to Dick and Ann we would come back and win a big one. I had beaten myself up all year about that night and well, we left it late but we did it. I was struggling to hold it together in the celebrations afterwards and it meant so much to have the trophy presented by Mitch Millward's partner Nicola. I've never had so many texts, tweets and emails from people who were touched by the performance of Adageo Bob but the crowd applauding before, during and after the race was a memory I will never forget. I have so many people to thank, all my team at Imperial Kennels Sid, Sarah, Luke, Daniel, Kevin and Linda, Ron Mills for all his physio work over the years, to John Marriot who bred Bob and to former owner Mark Currell for allowing us to buy Bob. Of course the journey wouldn't be complete without thanking loyal owners Dick and Ann Barfoot and their lovely family for all their support for our kennel.
Bob's future will be at Stud and in the next week we will announce his plans. We have already had several enquiries and he should prove popular and be a flag bearer for British Breeding. Even what I've written above doesn't cover all Bob's career but to sum it up:
He had 87 races (all opens) winning 46 times.
He was in the first two in 61 of his 87 races.
He won two Category 1 events (The British Breeders Stakes 2013 & The Coral Essex Vase 2015).
He won on eight different tracks and made two other Category 1 finals.
He jointly holds the track record at Romford 34.67 and won 28 times from 40 races over 575m breaking that magical 35.00 barrier an incredible 16 times.
Surely a record never to be beaten.
Thanks Bob you did Mitch's memory proud!
Moving on slightly it made me think of what would our Imperial Kennels fantasy top 6 greyhound race be like over 575m as we have had so many good ones over the 11 years since I took over from Linda.
Trap 1 - Aero Majestic 34.94
Trap 2 - Blonde Razor 34.99
Trap 3 - Bridge Ruth 34.72
Trap 4 - Reel Trickyone 34.84
Trap 5 - Adageo Bob 34.67
Trap 6 - Eye On The Veto 35.26
What a great race that would be if they were all at at the top of their games and I've left so many good ones out (apologies if I missed a few old favourites) like Aero Joker, Directors Chair, Planning, Special Deal and so many more. If I get time I will do a few fantasy races over different tracks and distances.
With the Trainer Of The Year title pretty much won in the first half of the year we are now enjoying an excellent end to 2015 and are now an incredible 400 points clear of our nearest rival and that could be stretched even further if we could defend our Oaks title this Wednesday at Belle Vue. The final again generously sponsored by EEC Timber looks a good one again and we have two deserving bitches trying to emulate the superb Cashen Maureen who won last year for us. Domino Storm took her semi final in good style from a poor draw in the fastest of the three semis. Little Meryl has been mostly brilliant all year and has drawn trap 3 in yet another all railler final. Evanta Evita has also been a class act as well all year and like the Arc final she finds herself wider than we would like in trap 5. She was beaten fair and square by Charlie Lister's Tyrur Caroline who is likely to start a warm favourite but Evanta Evita has got that brutal early pace that might see her get to that bend in front. She would be hard to peg back if leading, having made last year's final she is a credit to all connections!
In what has been an extraordinary week we also saw the return to the track of our superstar Billys Bullet. In a warm race over 655m at Towcester on Saturday he broke well but the early pace of Cabra Miller saw him turn second. He was close up to the 5th bend but basically blew up but was still a creditable third beaten about 3 lengths. The winning time of 39.42 was good and Billy ran the bends smoothly. With it being his first race since May it will take another couple of races for him to reach full fitness so we were not disappointed and thankfully he seems to have come off with no reaction from the injury that saw him out of action for over seven months. He will be on course to race on the Sky night at Towcester on December 17th.
Romford's big Sky night featuring the Mitch Millward Essex Vase final started well for us as Adageo Djongo took a 400m maiden in good style by 3 1/2 lengths in 24.23. The prolific Clondoty Alex never looked like getting beat in a 400m Standard scoring by 1 1/4 in 24.17 (-10) and Swift Whirlwind made a mockery of his Essex Vase elimination winning a 575m by over 7 lgths in 35.34 (-20). No doubt who was the star of the night as Adageo Bob blitzed his opposition in the main race of the night while Aayamzamodel finished a good 3rd in the last race of the night over 575m.
Just one runner at Hove on Thursday and again Airforce Duchess found one too good when narrowly beaten by Westmead Lola in a Ladies race. As said on Friday Domino Storm won her semi final of the EEC Timber Oaks in a fastest 28.88 while Evanta Evita qualified in the other semi final when second but Aero Babooshka got no sort of run when 5th. Blue a Moment was also unlucky in the Laurels semi final when 4th.
On Saturday Calco Flyer ran poorly in the heats of the British Bred Derby and with so much kennel sickness around that could offer an explanation. Toosey Fern was just run out of a place in her semi final while Billys Bullet was a solid 3rd in his comeback race.
The Bags Championship final leg on Friday got off to a great start as youngster Calco Swift was just beaten on the line by the other Towcester runner Roswell Raphael scoring maximum points. Oldfield Lynda had no answers to the Peterborough runner when 2nd in the sprint and Ferryforth Fran was also a good 2nd behind Kevin Hutton's Reel Style scoring maximum points for the home side.
Ballymac Shirley made it five on the trot and followed up her Championship win at Nottingham with another fine success in the bitches race in a good 28.20.
Towcester qualified for the Grand Finals to be held at Perry Barr on 23rd December in good style winning the group comfortably.
Elsewhere on the card Ilewin Frimley was 2nd in a good A2 while Vandiva followed up her success from the week before with another decisive victory in A4 in 28.88 (-40).
On Saturday TellhimJohn showed some nice pace when 2nd in a P7 and the consistent Aero Harrison won again in S2 when up the pace early winning in 40.52 (-30). Lord Hesketh's Rufford Atom came from last to first when favourite in an A4 to win in 29.12 (-40).
On Sunday it was good to see Giveabitbacksue back from season and injury, she showed plenty of early pace but was just caught on the run in th be beaten a short head in 29.12 (-20). There were two debut wins for both Ela Ela Genie in a D2 scoring in 15.67 (-10) while Airforce Joe deserved to win and did so well in a P6 in a good 28.73 (-10).
PERFORMANCE OF THE WEEK
WHAT'S ON NEXT WEEK
Wednesday is a big night as we try and defend our Oaks title won last year by Cashen Maureen. Domino Storm and Evanta Evita are class acts and can both go close and we will have a few runners on the supporting card.
We will be at Romford on Friday and on Sunday we will be at Hove for the Olympic and a Puppy competition.
WEBSITE RECOMMENDED BETS
A stunning week almost for our supporters as Adageo Bob rolled back the years to win the Mitch Millward Essex Vase in grand style and those bookmakers who priced him up at 12/1 were left licking their wounds! Clondoty Alex also won on the card though he was a bit short. Sadly Aero Babooshka got no sort of run in the Oaks semi final and we didn't put up our other two finalists but we can't get it right all the time.
For a bet this week let's go to the Belle Vue supporting card and I see no reason why Swift Whirlwind couldn't dish more punishment out to his rivals on Sky, of course the key to him is leading.
SWIFT WHIRLWIND - 3 pts win - Belle Vue - Wednesday
ADVISED LAST WEEK
ADAGEO BOB - 2 pts e.w ante post 12/1 - Mitch Millward Essex Vase - Romford - WON (29 pts profit)
AERO BABOOSHKA - 2 pts e.w ante post 25/1 - EEC Timber Oaks - Belle Vue - lost
CLONDOTY ALEX - 3 pts win - Romford - Tuesday - WON 4/7