Monday 10th October 2011
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A dramatic week both on and off the track for Imperial Kennels over the last seven days. Aero Majestic's scintillating St Leger victory was quickly followed a day later by news that one of our new intakes had failed a random drugs test bringing us crashing down to earth with a bang. I will deal with that matter first; Racing Post's Jonathan Kay rang me on Friday for my comments on the story that Confident Ramona had failed a random drug test in her first trial at Yarmouth Stadium and we were the first case to refer back to the new Point of Registration Sample which also proved to be positive for the steroid 'Nandrolone'. Of course I was dismayed and shocked at any drug found in any greyhounds in our care. We have a total 'no drugs policy' in place at our kennel but on reflection thank god the GBGB has introduced this 'Point of Registration Sample' taken when greyhounds first go to the track for microchipping, registration, vaccinating and marking up. Although we are still facing an inquiry over the positive sample, common sense should prevail and the fact that the young bitch had only been in our kennel for two weeks before both samples provided proved to be positive clearly shows that this drug was in the system well before she came into our kennel. I have since made some angry phone calls to the people who supplied the bitch to the owners of Confident Ramona but it would be wrong for me to comment on this matter before the inquiry takes place. I would like to say I applaud the GBGB on their strong stance of rooting out the extraordinary small percentage of drug cheats in our sport and anybody who knows myself, Linda and our kennel knows full well how we totally condemn the use of any drugs unless prescribed by a vet for medicinal purposes. I will, in the future, comment further on this and believe me I won't be holding back on what I say! I will not have our kennel's incredible reputation blackened in any way, shape or form!
This shouldn't, and nor will I let it, overshadow what was truly a memorable night at Wimbledon on Tuesday. To say we were under pressure to win a big one is an understatement. The loyal owners of Aero Majestic namely the 'Aero Greyhound Racing' led by Stuart and Eamonn Forsdike have ploughed a lot of time and money into our sport over the last few years and never had they had such a great chance of landing that 'big one' that had so far eluded them. There was also that small matter of a 'Trainers Championship' battle at the top that so many people were predicting was heading towards the Midlands. The St Leger was the stage and although this historical race still deemed a Classic has sadly been massively decreased in value it still held that prestigious title.
Step up Aero Majestic a young greyhound having only the 17th race of his short career. He had ridden his luck in the semi-final to qualify and we faced an uphill battle to get him spot on in the final but boy! did we both succeed. Quickly into his stride he showed a burst of pace that took my breath away and going down the back straight for the last time he had established an incredible 6 length lead and though Barry Draper's strong running Capoley Ash reduced that advantage to just over 2 lengths at the line he never at any stage of the race looked in danger of defeat. The celebrations at the presentation I would say were contained from both owners and myself but I can tell you now the Forsdike family were in shock but as delighted as any owners I have ever seen. This alone makes my job so worthwhile but let's not forget, I might have been at Wimbledon on my own but Aero Majestic's triumph is very much a team effort from Imperial Kennels and both me and Sarah would like to say a big thank you to our staff including Linda and to our Physio Ron Mills for the meticulous preparation of this beautifully natured greyhound.
Also I know how much Chris Allsopp and his assistant Paul Anderson would dearly love to win the Trainers Championship and I'm not saying they still can't win because they most certainly can but Aero Majestic's victory certainly put a large dent in their chances so it was one of the most sporting gestures I have seen when Paul came onto the track after we had won to shake my hand. That was a nice touch and I wish them all the luck for the rest of the year. I must also mention that Aero Majestic was bred and reared by John Paul McQuillan in the North of Ireland who is also responsible for the breeding and rearing of Blonde Snapper. He tells me that he has the next offspring from both 'Maj' and 'Snapper's' mothers that look as good if not better on the schooling tracks as we speak. I think he might get quite a bit of interest! I can put anybody in touch if they are interested but of course they won't be cheap!
As I have said before trying to win the biggest races in the sport like the St Leger is foremost in our targets but of course we would still like to land the overall Trainers Championship and there's no doubt that this week could turn out to be just as important as last week's St Leger victory. Tonight Jazz Apollo lines up at Nottingham as a 7/4 favourite to land the £15,000 to the winner British Bred Produce Stakes. Personally I think this is way too short a price in what is an above average final and his draw in trap 2 outside the middle running Romeo Metro is far from ideal but he came from an impossible position to land the Kent Derby at Sittingbourne a couple of months ago and with the kennel in such stunning form on the big nights I have a sneaking feeling we could be on the winner's podium again.
This of course would give us a 100 plus point lead in the standings which could prove vital as we go into the last three months of the year. We also have qualified Kinda True into the Category 1 William Hill Northern Puppy Derby this coming Wednesday at Newcastle. No doubt this youngster has it all to do to win as he has done well to make the final. I'm sure in time Kinda True will prove to be a decent puppy and he will score more vital points for us just for making the final. We will have a few runners on the Sky card at Newcastle including in my opinion one of the stars of 2011 Lil Risky. His brilliant sprint victory at Wimbledon last Tuesday added to what was a night to remember and this stunning greyhound returns home to the North East where he started his career with Jimmy Fenwick who still has a 1/3 share in him along with Brian Usher and Scott Fraser.
The Primus Telecom Henlow Derby worth a superb £15,000 to the winner kicks off this Thursday and it is sure to be one of the best competitions of the year with the likes of Derby champion Taylors Sky lined up to take part. Blonde Snapper back from a rest after being knocked out in the semi-final of the Kent Derby warmed up for the event with a blistering 27.32 trial last Thursday over the 460m trip. He will be entered along with our Yarmouth Derby 3rd Rookery Pedro and Sulphur Spring who has taken to the track well with a couple of narrow defeats in the last two weeks.
I had a long chat over the phone with the legendary greyhound writer Bob Betts this week who rang me for a story about our St Leger winner Aero Majestic for the Irish Press who he now writes for. Bob and myself are both passionate about the history of our sport and I know how much it hurts him to see our industry in trouble. Of course we both realise the economic climate is having a large impact on this but one thing we absolutely agreed on was that if a million pound can be put aside for graded races from the recent increase in the fund budget then why couldn't some of this money be used to ring fence some of our major open race competitions e.g the St Leger could have been put back to the £15,000 winner's purse it was carrying only a couple of years ago, the forthcoming Oaks carrying a derisory £6,000 to the winner could be increased to say £10,000 and I'm sure there are plenty of other examples. If just one tenth (100k) had been used for open racing it would have a much larger impact on owners in our sport in our opinion. I'm certainly not totally knocking this new bonus fund spread across the 25 tracks, any extra money is most welcome but it's called the 'Owners Bonus Series' and I would dearly love to see how many of the dogs involved in the races actually have owners and how many are actually owned by the trainer himself. I think you will be shocked by the figures. Now tell me how many of the dogs running in major competitions are owned and I think you can work out for yourself that if some of this money was put aside for open racing it would benefit a lot more owners.
The 'transfer window' for the Five to Follow competition has now closed so good luck to everyone through to the end of the year.
Check out the latest edition of Pete's Column featuring Bell Tornado.
Wimbledon on Tuesday was as good a night as we have had this year and along with Aero Majestic's brilliant triumph in the William Hill St Leger where he won by 2 1/4 lengths in a fast 41.60 (the best time of the whole event) we also had a tremendous sprint victory for Lil Risky who took some notable scalps including Jimmy Lollie in 16.07. Mountjoy Osprey showed some serious early pace to lead a hot puppy race before fading off the last bend when 5th.
We had a mixed next few days with our results. At Newcastle on Thursday Kinda True was second in his semi-final of the William Hill Northern Puppy Derby missing the trouble at the first bend to chase home Coin Case going down by 2 lengths in 29.28. Risky Rosaleen had no sort of run when last in her Angel Of The North Oaks heat and Blonde Fletch, a warm favourite, just missed out in a heat of the Stayers event when only third.
At Henlow also on Thursday Mountjoy Falcon opened up his open race account with an impressive win in a puppy race scorching round in 27.54 but 'why o why' are these puppy races only worth £100 to the winner! Sulphur Spring, All That Noise and Dalcash Scolari all suffered defeats when quite well fancied.
On Friday at Nottingham Jazz Apollo qualified for the British Produce Stakes final when he was second in the semi-final going down by a neck to Go Go Sonic in 30.25 while at Romford Risky Baba was best of our runners when second after getting caught on the line in a 400m Maiden.
On Saturday at Crayford we sent a team of three to the John Davidson and Colin Wilson Memorial night with some excellent prize money on offer. Both Rockburst Lenny and Rockburst Fanta couldn't escape bad draws but Mountjoy Orion saw that we didn't come away empty handed when romping to a 7 length win in a good 45.89 over 714m.
Just runners on Wednesday and in the opening race Lil Magic coming out of season won well in an A3 scoring by over 4 lengths in a good 28.19 (+20). Risky Blue followed up winning an A2 by a length in 28.30 (+20) with Mountjoy Eagle back in 4th. Ritchies Ruby made it three winners when scoring in A4 company by 2 lengths in 28.81 (+10).
PERFORMANCE OF THE WEEK
WHAT'S ON NEXT WEEK
Tonight Jazz Apollo bids to land the British Produce Stakes at Nottingham.
Newcastle's Festival of Racing sponsored by William Hill is live on Sky on Wednesday and draws to a conclusion with four finals including the Northern Puppy Derby where Kinda True runs from trap 1. Lil Risky, Blonde Fletch, Ayamzagirl and New Phase will be entered in supporting races.
The Primus Telecom Henlow Derby gets underway on Thursday with six heats.
Plans for the rest of the week are to be arranged.
WEBSITE RECOMMENDED BETS
Aero Majestic gave our followers a lucrative pay day when he landed the William Hill St Leger on Tuesday. Recommended at 25/1 at the outset he never gave us a moment's worry and this week on Wednesday could lightning strike twice as Kinda True tipped up at 20/1 runs in the final of the Northern Puppy Derby? I think we would settle for a place in the first four as he does seem to have a difficult task but nonetheless he's there and we have a shout.
For a bet on Wednesday's Sky card I think we could do a Lucky 15 on the supporting races as I feel all four of our runners could have a decent chance. In form Lil Risky goes in a Sprint, Blonde Fletch bids to make amends for a costly defeat last week as does puppy New Phase. Forgotten Ayamzagirl is ready to prove that she is still a force in the marathon division.
At Henlow on Thursday Blonde Snapper has to be worth an interest in the Primus Telecom Derby after his scintillating trial last week.
BLONDE FLETCH - Newcatle - Wednesday
AYAMZAGIRL - Newcastle - Wednesday
NEW PHASE - Newcastle - Wednesday
LIL RISKY - Newcastle - Wednesday
0.30 pts Lucky 15 - total = 4.5 pts
0.50 pts e.w accumulator - total = 1pt
BLONDE SNAPPER - 4 pts win ante-post - Henlow Derby - starts Thursday
ADVISED LAST WEEK
AERO MAJESTIC - 1pt e.w ante-post 25/1 - William Hill St Leger - Wimbledon - WON (31 pts profit)
ROOKERY PEDRO - 2pts win - Wimbledon - Tuesday - lost
KINDA TRUE - 1 pt e.w ante-post 20/1 - William Hill Northern Puppy Derby - Newcastle - final Wednesday