Monday 13th October 2014
(Opens to a third party website)
Over the years since Imperial Kennels first started we have been attached to six different tracks. Under my mother in law, the legendary Linda Jones, we have supplied graded runners to Swaffham, Mildenhall and Yarmouth before Linda's breakthrough into the big time when gaining a contract at Romford some twenty years ago. Over five years of continued success saw Linda gain the lucrative contract at Walthamstow and in 2000 and 2001 Linda landed the coveted Trainer Of The Year award. As Kennelhand, Head Kennelhand and Assistant Trainer from 1990 I personally have been delighted to have seen all the success Linda achieved which gave me a huge stepping stone when I took over the licence from Linda in 2005 as the Trainer. Our continued success on the track as been wonderful but with the closure of the magnificent Walthamstow we moved our operation to Harlow and upped the open race side of the business, then just over four years ago we made a move back to Yarmouth with in between a couple of brief stints at Coventry under a dual attachment and though still very successful there's no doubt financially without a big contract we have struggled to make it pay as the industry has fallen into crisis with poor prize money etc. This has been instrumental in my decision this week to take up the offer of a training contract at the new Towcester greyhound stadium set to open in early December.
Firstly, I have to say a massive thank you to Yarmouth, who have been our base for the last four years. I have the utmost respect for them, their professionalism on and off the track is first class. Nothing has been too much trouble for the Racing Office, Paddock Stewards and staff and the management team lead by Simon Franklin have been fantastic. We have won two of our five Trainer Of The Year awards and the Greyhound Derby whilst at Yarmouth and brought many of our stars on the track through the grades at Yarmouth most notably Blonde Reagan, Ayamzaman and Hometown Honey amongst many others. It will be a part of my training career I will always look back fondly on and we will still commit to helping Yarmouth in the Bags Championship which starts next Sunday at Doncaster and will leave some runners up until the end of the year to help them with their busy December and Christmas schedule.
Towcester are fully on track to begin trials around the second week of November and it goes without saying that I hope this seventh track in our kennel's history is going to be a huge success. Without a doubt no stone has been left unturned by the Towcester management, lead by Kevin Ackerman, to ensure that their venture into Greyhound Racing becomes a real shot in the arm the industry so much needs. Over the next few weeks I will give everyone an update on the progress of Towcester and our plans. We of course will have greyhounds available for sale to existing, new and old owners as well as syndicates including our Racing Club specifically for Towcester when it officially starts on December 6th. One of the concerns of many people is that the Greyhound track itself is too far away but I couldn't believe, now it's taking shape, how much it hits you in the face and the views from the stand will be superb. They will cater also for those people who like to get up close to the action and I really can't see there being any problem.
Me and several guests had a brilliant day last Wednesday at Towcester where their first horse race meeting took place. I bought the day at the races in the 'Give A Bit Back' auction on the golf day back in May which was kindly donated by Kevin Ackerman. This included a table of 10 in their magnificent restaurant in the Empress Stand and the prize also included race sponsorship in our website's name. A very decent crowd enjoyed a good day's racing and the highlight for me was taking my guests into the paddock to firstly judge the best turned out and then present the trophy to winning connections. The food served was first class and that's what diners will be treated to when the Greyhound racing commences. The hospitality boxes are also top class and the regular bars modern and spacious. The atmosphere is something money can't buy and I feel this will be sensational when the racing starts. On course bookmakers will offer generous odds when they know the racing is going to be competitive and with a brilliant line up of trainers and owners it really should be. Another incentive to join Towcester is their massive appetite for high class opens and competitions and in 2015 we could see many famous old competitions like the Pall Mall, Cesarewitch and Guineas return in a revamped way. This alone should see that we can still figure in the Trainer Of The Year title race especially as I will be vastly reducing the amount of open racing we have been committed to over the years. I will only look to concentrate on Category 1 and 2 competitions away from Towcester which will greatly help our finances with the reduced amount of travelling.
On the track this week the biggest news was Cornamaddy Jumbo's fine win in the semi final of the Grand National last night at Sittingbourne. He has done well to stay the stiff 480m and now he is one race away from creating history as he attempts to land all three major hurdle races in the calendar having already bagged the Springbok and Champion Hurdle this year. It will certainly not be easy as he faces amongst others the defending champion Mash Mad Snowy. Rick Holloway, who has done brilliantly to get the race upped in prize money and Category status, also fields two strong runners in Lenson Razldazl and Newinn Hawk and both are as fast as they come. Whatever Jumbo's fate he has had a tremendous year and now in the veteran stage will be lightly campaigned for the rest of 2014.
Blonde Razor also made it five wins on the bounce with a game victory in the Kent Derby semi finals from an awkward trap 4 draw. Running alongside the Grand National the finals night next week could be a great night for the kennel. On a busy night for the kennel the RPGTV Henlow Derby saw a high class entry and both Blue Moment and Ilewin Allot ran well to qualify for next weeks semi finals.
A late start this week as we travelled to Romford on Friday with three runners. A missed break from Crown Jewel put paid to his chances but there was no mistake from Airforce Karla who showed good early pace to land a 400m Maiden at the third time of asking in 24.24. Aayamzamodel had a tough battle over 575m but scored a well deserved victory by 3/4 length in 35.63.
At Crayford on Satiurday we expected a decent run from Sidaz Dippy in the Kent St Leger but after a good break she eased at the first bend and in truth never looked happy on the tight circuit and was a well beaten last, hopefully she can do better on more galloping tracks for the rest of the year.
As said a busy Sunday night, over at Henlow in the RPGTV Derby heats Ilewin Allot produced a good effort to be 2nd to 2013 Derby Champion Sidaz Jack with the unlucky Aero Babooshka back in 4th. Blue Moment missed his break but showed awesome pace to reduce the lead of Westmead Alexis and only went down by 2 lengths in a fast 27.35. Benkaat Boomer and Evanta Jack were eliminated and Blackstone Marco suffered a rare defeat when not overcoming trap 4 over 550m when beaten 3 1/2 lengths by Blackrose Cloud.
At Sittingbourne Blonde Razor took the semi final of the Kent Derby when getting up right on the line to deny Ballygibbon King by a head in 29.72 (-60). Benkaat Nero was crowded at the first and just missed out on a place in the final when 3rd. Cornamaddy Jumbo showed his customary early pace to lead a hot Grand National semi final and just clung on for victory by a head from the fast finishing Newinn Hawk in 30.35 (-70). Swift Finn landed a 642m Maiden Stayers, just holding on by a hd in 41.54 (-100).
Another excellent Saturday night at Yarmouth with 5 winners from our 8 runners. In a messy opening A3 youngster Lets Havit Right scrambled home by 1/2 length in 28.74. We landed both heats of the Owners Bonus Series with Billis Blitz in 28.67 and Darian Star who is still finding her feet back from season winning by the minimum margin in 28.57. Evanta Da Vinci got his head in front for the first time winning an A5 in 28.89. Rockburst Louis ended a fine night with a good top grade win by 2 lengths in 28.34.
Four of our strength warmed up nicely for the Bags Championship at Doncaster next week. Kilmagner Mike clocked a good 17.17 in a sprint while Benkaat Panther recorded the fastest time of a mammoth trial session when beating Saffrons Anna by 2 lengths in 29.82 while Saffrons Champ recorded a respectable 30.04.
PERFORMANCE OF THE WEEK
WHAT'S ON NEXT WEEK
Tonight the British Breeders Stakes heats at Nottingham get underway and some tough races for our three entries Snappers Lad, Do It For Twiggy and Toosey Fern but we are hopeful of a good showing.
Some of our plans have yet to be decided but most certainly next Sunday the finals of the Grand National and Kent Derby at Sittingbourne take centre stage and both Cornamaddy Jumbo and Blonde Razor could give the kennel a tremendous night.
Over at Henlow the semi finals of the RPGTV Henlow Derby will be high class and both Blue Moment and Ilewin Allot will have to be at their best to qualify.
WEBSITE RECOMMENDED BETS
A disappointing end to Sidaz Dippy's run in the Kent St Leger for our supporters but a good run for our money nonetheless. We didn't include Cornamaddy Jumbo and Blonde Razor in our ante post bets which is a shame but we did include both Ilewin Allot and Blue Moment for the RPGTV Henlow Derby and that was a good decision. Snappers Lad looked well suited to Nottingham and is worth an ante post bet and I still think Do It For Twiggy is improving though he does face a tough heat tonight.
SNAPPERS LAD - 2 pts e.w ante post 12/1 - British Breeders Stakes - Nottingham - starts tonight
DO IT FOR TWIGGY - 1 pt e.w ante post 25/1 - British Breeders Stakes - Nottingham - starts tonight
ADVISED LAST WEEK
BLUE MOMENT - 2.5 pts e.w ante post 14/1 - RPGTV Henlow Derby - continues Sunday
ILEWIN ALLOT - 1 pt e.w ante post 33/1 - RPGTV Henlow Derby - continues Sunday
SIDAZ DIPPY - 2 pts e.w ante post 10/1 - Kent St Leger - Crayford - lost