Monday 30th September 2013
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Racing Post journalist and open race expert Jonathan Kay has been quite vociferous in criticising our GBGB both on RPGTV and in his column in the the paper today. I can't say I have always agreed with Jonathan's opinions in the past but on this occasion he is spot on when talking about the lack of weight from our governing body behind the campaign to save Wimbledon Stadium. The lack of a promotional arm from the GBGB is beyond belief and Jonathan rightly makes some valid points. I could and will be even more scathing on the troubles our industry are in and will strongly state that if we don't see changes soon then our sport will be in serious trouble.
I could write ten pages on what I feel the current problems are but to simplify things let's look at the main problem in the sport today.
----The lack of new owners coming through and current owners either dropping out of the sport or reducing their numbers considerably----
Why ? Poor prize money and the vast majority of promoters who treat them as second class citizens are the main reasons. We can go on with loads of other points including the fact our GBGB has no promotional arm as said above and one of my main concerns is that with a huge majority of racing on BAGS where owners can't watch their pride and joys run what's the point in owning them? If the trainers have no owners how can they survive and it's a proven fact that it is financial suicide for Professional trainers to own their own a large majority of their kennel strength.
Answers ? In my opinion the bookmakers who make huge profits from BAGS/BEGS and RPGTV have to fund the industry properly and are at least £8 million short of doing this currently.T he GBGB has to create a Promotional Committee to reignite the industry, they are so missing a trick not having Rick Holloway on board who would be magnificent in leading this role. If BAGS/BEGS want trainers to own the dogs running on their cards then it's time they made the promoters pay the proper price for their services. On average the promoters get paid £11k per meeting and only a small percentage of this finds its way back to the owners and trainers. It's time the owners and trainers stood up and demanded that they enter a separate comercial agreement with the bookmakers through BAGS/BEGS and RPGTV which includes minimum prize money levels and trainer bonus money.
In my role as a GTA committee member I currently sit on the Racing Committee on the GBGB and I pass on the GTA's complaints and suggestions in these meetings and to be honest the Racing Committee listen and take in what we are trying to say but realistically this committee is unlikely to change the fortunes of the sport especially as any proposals they make then have to go through other committees and the Board and if there is no money available the proposals are likely to be turned down. So what should we do? Well in my opinion the owners and trainers need to get together and say enough is enough we want - no, we need - to be better financed, we need a forward thinking governing body that can bring the changes necessary to have a blueprint for the future of the sport and unless this happens and happens very quickly we should withdraw the product. This means action should be taken and action that will make promoters, bookmakers and the GBGB say we better listen to what the owners and trainers are saying. Yes it's easy for me to withdraw my greyhounds for a short period as the majority of my runners are in open races and a week off wouldn't hurt the industry but for action to have an effect it will need all the BAGS /BEGS trainers and owners to unite and force the issue.
Of course that's a huge moan about the state of the game at the moment and many would say if you don't like the way it is then get out of the game but I still love this sport and can't wait to get to work in the morning and work with my greyhounds and staff. I love the competitive nature of the sport and the greyhounds themselves. I love being in a world where I get respect and a sense of achievement when any of our greyhounds win and I share in the owners' dreams and pain when things go right and wrong. I love plotting the next Derby or Category 1 winner and I get a sense of excitement and pride when I see the owners' faces when any of their greyhounds are on the winner's podium. These things are without doubt taken advantage of by the bookmakers and promoters for the sake of profits and even I question whether it is all worthwhile.
There are still many things to look forward to despite my thoughts above mainly on the track itself as the fierce battle between four trainers to win the Trainer of the Year award continues adding extra pressure and excitement to all the competitions each trainer is involved in. It does seem a battle we are losing at the moment as our three main rivals Paul Young, Chris Allsopp and Charlie Lister all did better than we did last week although I'm still optimistic that we can have the final say. On Saturday the William Hill Festival (an extremely bright spot in our sport at the moment) kicked off with six heats of the All England Cup and six heats of the Northern Puppy Derby where Benkaat Boomer (an excellent purchase from our For Sale page) landed his heat by 5 lengths in a good 28.62 and though some heats where quicker Benkaat Boomer could well improve again. Adageo Lad also qualified in 3rd place after leading in his heat and he also could improve to make the final although the fact they are both in the same semi is far from ideal. Unluckily our only entry in the All England Cup Bridge Honcho was beaten less than a length but failed to qualify when 4th in a bunched finish. At Crayford also on Saturday the heats of the Category 2 Kent St Leger started and both our entries Blonde Reagan and Aayamzabella found a lot of trouble but qualified. All Category 1 and 2 heats carry 5 points to the winner so they have a lot of importance attached to them regards to the Trainer of the Year title but of course for the owners and trainers its all about qualifying and then trying to win the final.
I was very pleased when our loyal owners Dick and Ann Barfoot rang me last week to purchase both Blonde Razor and Blonde Bobby (name change to Adageo Bob) as I have been really surprised that they hadn't been snapped up before. Blonde Bobby would have given them a great start if he had won a little final at Sittingbourne last night over 642m but he was also not disgraced when 2nd to an excellent rival in Droopys Posh and will now drop down in trip for the British Breeders Stakes over 500m at Nottingham in two weeks' time. Blonde Razor fairly took off in a trial at Sittingbourne last night recording a very good 29.10 as he continues his preparation for the St Leger which kicks off at the end of the month and what a competition that could be. Blonde Razor currently trades at 33/1 with the sponsors and all eyes will be on him when he runs over a true six bend trip,. If he stays properly, and you do need to be a strong stayer for the St Leger trip at Wimbledon, he could be a serious player.
Bridge Ruth (Angel of the North) and Sidaz Dippy (Great North Run) also head up to Newcastle this Thursday as the Festival continues and on the same day the Kent Derby and The Grand National (both Category 1 events) begin at Sittingbourne. Defending champ in the Grand National Baran Bali Hi is looking a bit long in the tooth now but will give it his all while Bridge Bandit, a course and distance specialist, could go a long way in the Kent Derby. The semi's of the Kent St Leger look tough at Crayford and if we are to have any aspirations of defending out Trainer of the Year title we must do well or win at least one of these competitions as our rivals are nearly all involved.
Today we said a fond farewell to Gary Crathern who has been with us since the start of 2012. Gary has decided to be nearer to home after travelling long distances to work at Imperial Kennels and we wish him well in the future. He can look back on his short time here at the kennels with enormous pride and it was a pleasure working with him. I'm sure his best moment ever in his time with us came in June 2012 when he paraded Blonde Snapper to his famous Derby victory, good luck Gary.
RPGTV presenter Julie Collier is another who springs to mind when talking about the promotion of our sport and off her own back she has achieved more than the industry has done put together in her time working in the sport. Julie's latest idea to raise money and awareness for the RGT is an organised Sky jump from 10,000 feet to take place next June. I was waiting with baited breath, not!, for my invite and sure enough it came. Sadly my fear of heights is well known and I would rather do 100 'I'm a celebrity get me out of here' bush tucker food trials than jump from an aeroplane 10,000 feet in the air!!! Fortunately we will have some kennel representation as my wife Sarah (can't quite believe it) and both Sid and Pete have agreed to take part. That means I definitely can't take part (phew!) has somebody has to be at the kennel to look after the dogs!
Our popular 5 To Follow competition comes to the half way point tomorrow and Jay Currell's 'Team Blonde1 ' leads the way. It's the last chance to change your selections if you so wish, we have runners at Coventry on Wednesday and we will take any late changes up to our first runner.
Our first open runners of the week at Romford on Friday started with a winner when Aero Twizzle took a standard race by 1 1/2 lengths in 24.27 (+10). Toosey Milly, Murlens Crash, Ayamzaman and the unlucky Reel Trickyone all had traffic problems in their respective races.
On Friday at Newcastle as said Benkaat Boomer took his heat of the Northern Puppy Derby in great style and Adageo Lad qualified when 3rd in his heat. Bridge Honcho was unlucky when eliminated in his heat of the All England Cup.
Over at Crayford Blonde Reagan was in big trouble when a slow break saw him find trouble at the first bend in his heat of the Kent St Leger and in the end did well to finish 2nd while Aayamzabella looked like the track and trip were too sharp and short for her when 3rd in her heat.
Blonde Bobby ran well when 2nd in the Sittingbourne Stayers final on Sunday over 642m. Not much luck with our other four runners but Blonde Razor caught the eye in a trial before racing clocking 29.10.
YARMOUTH AND COVENTRY REVIEW
On Wednesday at Coventry Risky Emerald returned from season and despite only 5th in a hot 485m ran well enough while Hillcross Kansas scored by the minimum margin in an A4 in 29.80. Fairest Royal was a welcome return to the winners podium scoring by 3/4 length in 29.48 in an A2.
At Yarmouth on Saturday Risky Lass was 2nd in A6 grade and Ilewin Allot made it 2 wins from 3 when scorching round in A2 company winning in a fast 28.05. Butterbridge Bri caught the eye when 3rd in a hot A1.
PERFORMANCE OF THE WEEK
WHAT'S ON NEXT WEEK
Newcastle's William Hill festival continues on Thursday with the semi finals of both the All England Cup and the Northern Puppy Derby with the Angel of the North and Great North Run events starting.
Over at Sittingbourne the Kent Derby and the Grand National get underway as well.
We should be at Romford Friday and on Saturday the Kent St Leger semi-finals at Crayford is the feature open racing.
WEBSITE RECOMMENDED BETS
Quite how Bridge Honcho didn't qualify from the All England Cup heats after turning in a good pitch has left us scratching our heads a bit and with Ayamzaman getting beat at Romford on Friday it was a costly week for us.
On a recovery mission this week I think Bridge Bandit, who loves Sittingbourne, can do well in the Kent Derby and in the Kent St Leger I do feel Blonde Reagan is still great each way value. On Thursday at Newcastle we missed out a bit on Benkaat Boomer and the value has gone but at a decent price Sidaz Dippy might be worth an interest in the Great North Run heats while Bridge Ruth can confirm she is a top draw bitch and is worth a bet to land the Angel of the North title.
BRIDGE RUTH - 5 pts win ante post- Williamhill.com Angel Of The North Oaks - Newcastle - starts Thursday
SIDAZ DIPPY - 1.5 pts e.w ante post - Williamhill.com Great North Run - Newcastle - starts Thursday
BRIDGE BANDIT - 2 pts e.w ante post - Kent Derby - Sittingbourne - starts Thursday
BLONDE REAGAN - 2 pts e.w ante post 8/1 - Kent St Leger - Crayford - semi's Saturday
ADVISED LAST WEEK
BRIDGE HONCHO - 2 pts e.w ante post 20/1 - All England Cup - Newcastle - lost
AYAMZAMAN - 4 pts win - Romford - Friday - lost