Monday 2nd April 2012
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After appearing again on RPGTV on Friday I was beginning to think this was bad luck for our runners racing that night. The last time I was on in February we had quite a few seconds at Henlow but no winners and on Friday at Romford we saw well the fancied Risky Fred, Lil Risky and Blonde Snapper all defeated before Aero Joker at last came to the rescue when winning over 575m. I certainly drew a huge sigh of relief and I think even the presenters Jason Barrasford and Jonathan Kay were relieved for me. I did enjoy being a guest on the show and was a lot less nervous than when I was last on. Tipping winners is hard sometimes andI again showed my complete lack of knowledge of Sunderland's graded card but did manage overall to find two or three big priced winners. After a couple of remarks on my rather 'drab' clothing last time I unearthed a more trendy shirt for this appearance which I again took some stick over after some light hearted e-mails and tweets from viewers, all good fun. The show sponsored by five bookmakers and Betfair does seem to be growing in popularity and when we have runners I look forward to watching the programme if I'm not there at the track.
Last week I didn't mention the exciting news that Airforce Diva, the impressive winner of the big unraced Tralee competition on Friday 23rd March, was secured by myself for owners Simon Wooder and Guy Williams for a reasonable amount of money and will be coming to Imperial Kennels later this summer. Airforce Diva, only a July 10 whelp is by Head Bound x Movealong Alice, took the hugely respected final by a massive 8 1/2 lengths in an incredible 28.32. The purchase was secured before the final itself and I would like to thank both Keith Doherty and Peter O'Toole who owned her before the sale for being so honourable in their dealings. They are associated with the now famous 'Airforce' prefix and have many top class greyhounds in their ownership and I wish them well for the future. Simon Wooder, who over the years has been synonymous with the 'Fear' prefix most famously recently with the superb Fear Zafonic trained by Charlie Lister, is very excited with the new purchase who looks a huge talent, Simon is also welcomed back to our kennel after a short absence and was instrumental as an owner for us in 2005 when not only did we win the Trainer Of The Year title with dogs like Fear No One (Peterborough Puppy Derby, Peterborough Derby and East Anglian Derby winner), Fear Assassin (Romford Puppy Cup winner) and top open racers Fear Rien, Fear Mykeo and many more that lead him to be 2005 'Owner Of The Year'. Fear Robben also landed the 2006 Nottingham Puppy Classic and was twice a runner up in the Walthamstow Grand Prix when owned with Ian St Pier and we hope to have many more top winners with Simon in the coming months and years. Simon has joined forces with one of our country's leading show jumpers Guy Williams who is venturing into ownership for the first time. Guy is passionate about greyhound racing and can't wait for Airforce Diva to run. Guy himself will be one of Britain's leading gold medal hopes this summer in the Olympics and this is a fantastic chance of getting some great National media coverage for Greyhound racing. W e have agreed that Airforce Diva will stay with Owen McKenna in Ireland for the Puppy Oaks at Shelbourne that starts in a couple of weeks and if all goes well maybe a crack at the all aged Oaks in June before coming to our kennel with the William Hill Oaks later in the year her main target.
The recently threatened boycott by many open race trainers is still the topic for many people I speak to and one thing for sure this is not going to go away until some positive news comes that certain changes in our industry are going to come. I had many positive comments about my opinion last week on finding outside sponsorship for our Trainers Championship meeting and I again echoed my thoughts on this subject on RPGTV on Friday. This week I want to give my thoughts about one of the other principal gripes amongst 99 percent of our trainers and that is about our representation, namely the GTA. This representation, or the lack off it, was another reason for the threatened action and we hope this week we will see some positive moves to change the trainers' fortunes in the coming months. Norah McEllistrim our GTA Chairperson has agreed to me in a telephone conversation to step down shortly and announce a GTA AGM and soon we will be looking for a trainer to lead us and take over the unenviabe task of putting all our feelings and frustrations to the GBGB. I do feel as well as GOBATA that the whole of the GTA needs a complete restructure and as well as a leader we also need a strong working committee to back that leader up and I would urge all those that are currently on the GTA committee to step down if they do not wish to be actively involved. Indeed the GTA has become such a shambles that one committee member, who I won't name, didn't even know he was a committee member. The GBGB have completely ignored GOBATA since its formation and have said we have to go through the proper channels, namely the GTA, so now, more than ever before, is the time for ALL TRAINERS TO STAND UP AND BE COUNTED. We have seen many grumble on about how bad things are and many of these trainers have actively got involved with GOBATA but without a shadow of doubt the GTA is their chance to put their grievances to the GBGB. Of course GOBATA will continue to help all trainers as much as they can and a new GTA can work closely with GOBATA so never will there be a more important time for the declining 450 odd professional trainers. There has to be a voice also for the trainers who hold a Greyhound Trainers Licence (trainers who can have up to 12 dogs) who number at least that of the professional trainers. There are so many issues that need to be tackled, not least the major issue of trainers' ability to be able to look after the greyhounds in their charge at a fair price. If the trainers can't do this it has to bring into play a huge welfare issue, something all those that finance the sport will not want to be dragged into.
This week sees the start of a tremendously busy period in the open race calendar. The Bettor.com Scottish Derby got underway on Saturday at Shawfield though we did not send a team to Scotland as I didn't feel we had one that had a chance of landing the classic mainly due to the travelling aspect of the event. On Wednesday the Ladbrokes Blue Riband gets underway at Hall Green and we will be represented by Rookery Pedro, who ran so well at Perry Barr recently, and Kinda True who hasn't had the best of luck lately. On Friday the Category 1 Coral Golden Sprint at Romford begins and this event promises to be an absolute cracker. Despite recent defeats of a few of our high class individuals we are still hopeful of a victory in this event from either Blonde Snapper, Lil Risky or Mountjoy Osprey while Castlebride Dan may be one of those unexposed types that could do well. Great news for the kennel as well is that last year's Stayer Of The Year Blonde Fletch came through a handslip at Yarmouth last Thursday with flying colours and he will be having a full sprint trial this week perhaps at Hove on Thursday.
On Monday Lil Risky blasted to a 7 3/4 length victory at Romford in the Coral On TV Standard heats in a fine 23.95.
A return visit to Hove brought home a couple of good winners - Swift Reagan led on the run in to win by a length in the puppy race over 515m in 30.13, Blonde Kimber ran well when second in a 515m Maiden while normal service was resumed with Jazz Apollo when he reversed Trainers Championship form with Droopys Lorenzo beating that rival by 1 1/4 lengths in a good 29.57.
On Friday at Romford no luck with Lil Risky in the Coral On TV Standard final when he couldn't clear the middle running Nans Brute. Blonde Snapper looked like he was just about to go round in front in a hot 400m top division but was just crowded allowing Drumcove Lad to slip in to a 2 length lead, battling bravely he just failed by the minimum margin to collar that rival in 24.20. Aero Joker was a welcome winner leading all the way to win a 575m by 3 1/4 lengths in a fast 35.38.
Only runners on Saturday and for a change a blank score sheet with Planning not far away in third when trying to make it three from three. Corrig Vincent was also third in a hot A1
PERFORMANCE OF THE WEEK
WHAT'S ON NEXT WEEK
On Wednesday the Ladbroke Blue Riband kicks off at Hall Green with six heats.
Open racing at Hove Thursday and at Romford Friday where the Coral Golden Sprint gets under way. Other opens to be pencilled in.
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Swift Reagan got some unlucky recent punts out of the way with a good win for us at Hove on Thursday.
This week sees the start of two big competitions. On Wednesday the heats of the Ladbrokes Blue Riband get underway and of our two entries Rookery Pedro makes a bit of appeal at 33/1 with the sponsors - a good 28.56 calc trial on Friday our East Anglian Derby third should go well.
The Coral Golden Sprint kicks off on Friday at Romford and it looks to be a strong event. Mountjoy Osprey, Lil Risky and Blonde Snapper will all have outright claims and it's a hard choice picking one of these three to go the furthest but despite his odds on defeat last Friday I still think Lil Risky is the one they all have to beat.
ROOKERY PEDRO - 1 pt e.w ante-post 33/1 - Ladbrokes Blue Riband - Hall Green - starts Wednesday
LIL RISKY - 2 pts e.w ante-post - Coral Golden Sprint - Romford - starts Friday
ADVISED LAST WEEK
SWIFT REAGAN - 2 pts win - Hove - Thursday - WON 7/4
CASTLEBRIDE DAN - 2 pts win - Romford - Friday - did not run