9th November 2015
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Well we have a William Hill St Leger finalist but not the one many would have expected. Ferryforth Fran starting at odds of 20/1 comfortably qualified behind Diego Flight who recorded a flying 41.28 and though beaten 6 1/2 lengths Fran's overall time was only one spot behind the winning time of the second semi final won by Fizzypop Buddy. In this tough competition Ferryforth Fran has qualified entirely on merit and will undoubtedly go off at big odds again on Tuesday but we expect a big run from Alan Morton's pride and joy in the £25,000 classic. Ribble Atom was expected to qualify but our marathon star just got done for a bit of middle pace and despite staying on at the finish could never get a blow in on the leaders. Jimmy Nailed On tried his hardest in his semi final but never got the clearest of runs before going out the event when 5th, he will possibly now set his sights on the Golden Jacket at Crayford early next year.
The William Hill St Leger final is a cracker with the likes of Diego Flight, Fizzypop Buddy and defending champion Roxholme Dream in opposition but Ferryforth Fran has good draw clad in the stripes and if anything goes pear shaped with all the principles he will be there to pounce. Win lose or draw he has been a revelation in this competition and has stepped up from his decent Towcester top graded form. He is another that was purchased off our website a few months ago and Alan Morton took the plunge in his first venture into greyhound ownership, wouldn't it be a tremendous coup if he was to land this superb title and prize money!
A late decision has been made on Ribble Atom's next race and that will be much to many people's surprise as we have entered her in the Night Of The Stars festival at Shelbourne Park next Saturday for their long distance race over 850 yards. She travels over with me on the day and though I think the distance is still a touch sharp for her it will be amazing if she could win for Lord Hesketh. There will be a huge contingent of British supporters in Dublin and I'm very much looking forward to the weekend. After the race she will stop in Ireland under the care of my friend trainer/breeder Karol Ramsbottom for a crack at the Track Bookmakers Marathon (formerly the Ted Hegarty) event at Harrolds Cross where the extreme distance of over a 1000 yards will be right up her street.
We have an incredibly busy period starting obviously with the St Leger tomorrow night, then the Gold Collar continues on Thursday at Crayford where Swift Whirlwind is going well. We hope to have our ECC Timber Oaks trials at Belle Vue on Friday with the competition we so memorably won last year with Cashen Maureen starting a week later. Evanta Evita, Domino Storm, Aero Babooshka and Saffrons Anna will spearhead our team. A busy weekend at Towcester where Adageo Bob might have another race over four bends before he steps back up to 575m for the Essex a Vase that starts a week later.
One competition we are not looking likely to be involved in is the Betfred Eclipse tonight at Nottingham. The racing manager's decision to leave our only entry Calco Flyer out of the 36 dog Category 1 stake that he was a superb 3rd in last year has left me astounded. After seeing the runners Friday morning and the name of Calco Flyer not on the list of runners I naturally thought it was a mistake and our entry had been mislaid or something, then I found out that he was accepted as only a 4th reserve. I won't go on but I was shocked as our fella has rock solid Category 1 form all year and has given our syndicate a huge amount of pleasure. It's not often I get angry about decisions from opinionated racing managers but this certainly rivals the decision Monmore made a couple of years ago to leave the virtually unbeatable Lil Risky out of a competition. We still have to go to Nottingham tonight as we have important trials most notably Oldfield Lynda and Ballymac Shirley for next week's Bags Championship penultimate leg.
Good news with our kennel star Billys Bullet as he looks to have came off sound from a 480m trial at Towcester on Saturday. Clocking a good 28.94 (-30) he did just check slightly at the first bend but looked pretty smooth thereafter and I'm sure it's only a case of a couple more trials and then think of a suitable comeback race.
Of course in between all this action on the track the funeral of the much missed and incredibly popular owner Mitch Millward is on Thursday and there is sure to be a huge turnout who will pay their last respects to an absolute gentleman on what will be a very sad day for the sport. In my blog a couple of weeks ago I should have mentioned the fund raising that is raising money for the huge bills incurred on Mitch's potential life saving operation that sadly was a gamble that had to be taken. Whether you had the pleasure of knowing Mitch or not a small donation, even a fiver or tenner, would be gratefully accepted, go to https://crowdfunding.justgiving.com/roy-swaby-1 or https://crowdfunding.justgiving.com/john-white for details on how to donate.
As well as the William Hill St Leger semi finals on Friday the RFS Puppy Derby semi's unfortunately saw our Roswell Iceman eliminated but he showed enough pace to think he's a very good prospect for 2016. At Romford we had mixed fortunes with our three runners. Farkland Jackal qualified for the Maiden final over 400m when second in his heat, Clondoty Alex returned from a spell on the sidelines to win well in a 400m Standard in a very good 23.94.
At Crayford on Saturday in the heats of the Gold Collar Swift Whirlwind cracked out and stayed well to land his heat in 33.84.
Our only open runner at Towcester was none other than Adageo Bob and in his first run for a few weeks he just failed to get up and was beaten by the minimum margin, he should strip fitter next time.
On Friday Swift Boyne followed up last week's victory with another coming from off the pace to score in 28.91, Ilewin Frimley and Libertine Louis were both second and Oldfield Lynda won a very good D1 in fine style in 15.44. Sidarian Bella was again most impressive taking an A5 in 28.55.
On Saturday a few close results with Cisberry Geo running well again when second in an A3. Ribble Aon was also second before Famias Hope produced a fine effort to win from behind in a tough A4 and looks a pup going places. Mac's On storm took advantage of a drop down to A2 grade to win impressively leading all the way.
On Sunday we got off to a great start with a 1-2 in an A3 as Garryglass Pixie in her first race back from season beat Penny's Seabiscuit by 2 lengths in 28.44. Aero Harrison again came from last to first to take an S2 in 49.27 and Swift Turbo also won an A4 in 29.05.
PERFORMANCE OF THE WEEK
WHAT'S ON NEXT WEEK
As said a busy week with Nottingham tonight for trials for the Bags Championship. Ferryforth Fran bids to give us our fourth St Leger victory in 6 years at Wimbledon on Tuesday and his odds of 40/1 are not reflective on the way he is running.
On Thursday a sad day for the sport off the track with Mitch Millward's funeral and on the track the Gold Collar continues at Crayford.
We will be at Romford and Belle Vue on Friday and on Saturday as well as Towcester we will be having our first runner in Ireland for 6 1/2 years as Ribble Atom heads for the Night Of The Stars.
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After sitting in a good position going into the semi finals of both the St Leger and RFS Puppy Derby we blew out. Swift Whirlwind hopefully can go one better for us in the Gold Collar at Crayford on Thursday.
ADVISED LAST WEEK
RIBBLE ATOM - 2 pts e.w ante post 33/1 - William Hill St Leger - Wimbledon - lost
ROSWELL ICEMAN - 1 pt e.w ante post 16/1 - RFS Puppy Derby - Wimbledon - lost
SWIFT WHIRLWIND - 2 pts e.w ante post 8/1 - Ladbrokes Gold Collar - Crayford - continues Thursday
TOOSEY FERN - 1 pt e.w ante post 33/1 - Ladbrokes Gold Collar - Crayford - lost