Monday 31st January 2011
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Friday's massively hyped ' Bring It On Challenge' brilliantly sponsored by Corals turned out to be an excellent race but may be not quite the one everyone would have liked with Droopys Djokovic leading all the way to beat our Ayamzagirl by over 3 lengths with Killishin Masai a further couple of lengths behind in third. With media coverage from all over the world leading up to Friday and Sky News broadcasting the race live on the night it would have been better had we got a tight finish but to be fair Jim Daly's star broke the hearts of his rivals with a relentless gallop to land the generous £2,000 first prize. At least the three runners never started to, as we say, 'muck about' which in my opinion would have made Greyhound racing look stupid and with the two losers getting £500 a piece eveyone was a winner.
There was a large crowd on the night with a very good supporting card and perhaps we can learn that these type of match races are the way forward. They bring an extra dimension to our sport if not over used but just think if next month we saw say a two dog sprint between Jimmie Lollie and the bang on form Rotar Wing and perhaps a hurdle match between the new Springbok winner and last year's Grand National winner Plane Daddy. For the purists what about at the end of the year the winners of the Scottish, English and Irish Derby's all in a say £10,000 match race in October. The possibilities are endless and for our sport to attract the crowds again like Friday at Romford it looks a no brainer!
This brings me on to my next subject, the much talked about 'Premier League'. The idea came about because of the massive interest recently in the Betfair Trainers Championship meetings. Years ago this Championship was not that well supported with a number of trainers dropping out, which in one case meant that our kennel under my mother in law, Linda Jones, came in as a reserve at Walthamstow and famously won it at odds of 100/1! It was clear then and for some years later that this event was almost seen as a hindrance to trainers who had to miss competitions with their dogs to try and make a team of eight but in the last few runnings of the event, with Betfair's increased sponsorship and the fact Sky have covered the Championship in their usual superb style, trainers have every incentive to want to get in the top six and have the right to qualify themselves for the meeting. The turnover on the night not only from the sponsors but also the main bookmakers has almost matched that of the Derby and the races itself are bordering on all being of Category 1 quality. What a recipe for success and also a great advert for the industry.
My thinking was why not have this concept on a regular basis but with a few twists, say the 'Twenty/Twenty' of Greyhound racing. Everyone knows that a 'Premier League' in football, darts and to a certain degree snooker has revitalised sports that were on their knees and this seems to be the case with our sport. Yes we are at fault ourselves with the way the industry has gone. A ruling body dominated by the bookmakers who's self interest is purely Bags racing, deteriorating stadia not fit to take your guests along to, poor marketing and ever decreasing prize money due to a falling voluntary levy which has driven many owners out of the sport. But let's look at positives - we still have a sport that in tough economic times offers an inexpensive night out for the working man and his family. Greyhound racing can be fast and exciting and in Sky we can see that people tune in in large numbers and bet on the better class racing with the knowledge that our sport is clean more often than not and the form stands up very well.
The 'Premier League' has been already branded as eliteist with many people saying it will only benefit the top trainers, but hey for a start how many top trainers are actually making a profit from running their top dogs all over the country? We don't get any run money like trainers who purely supply runners to the Bags, our overheads are enormous with extra staff and expensive vans being used to try and get to the top of our profession. It's hard work to get the owners to maybe splash out on an expensive dog or two, you almost have to sell yourself to do this and in many cases these sacrifices can affect your family, your health and most definitely your pocket to one day be in a position to land a Derby or Trainers Championship, a reason I applaud Seamus Cahill last year. He may still crave that Derby win but I can honestly say being crowned Champion Trainer has a great feeling.
Back to the 'Premier League' and my thinking was how do we get more trainers involved? Straight away realising that there would only be up to a dozen at best who could pull a team of eight top Greyhounds together so by reducing the races for a meeting to trainers needing five dogs it would bring in I would say up to 30 trainers who could have aspirations of making a 'Premier League'. Dave Smith, who runs Greyhoundscene.co.uk, is one of our most enthusiastic supporters of Greyhound Racing had a great idea of finding team managers who could pull a team of greyhounds under a team name so the trainer who maybe has only one or two top greyhounds could be involved. This would surely stop anyone saying this is eliteist. As for the 'Premier League' itself it is a series of four meetings every fortnight with a winner on the night and points for overall positions that count towards the final total. After four meetings we would then have a 'Premier League' winner with the two trainers that finished 5th and 6th being relegated and a new 'Premier League' would begin. Altogether there would be six 'Premier Leagues' in a year. The qualifying format to get into the 'Premier League' has yet to be finalised but it is sure to be exciting for all concerned. We are currently looking for sponsorship for the venture which hopefully will be run at the GOBATA backed Towcester racecourse which will offer a superb track, when built, and top class facilities befitting such a concept.
I thank Chris Page and Paul Ephremsen for their work and vision in trying to get a 'Premier League' started. The whole concept in my original thoughts was as I said was purely to try and rejuvenate the sport and if this concept never takes place then at least I can say I tried.
On the racing side this week it was nice to see Aero Bolt kick off his Springbok campaign at Wimbledon with a fluent victory in his heat. I was very impressed with his jumping which he looks a natural and with good all round speed he is set to have a great year. It's always an advantage for the kennel to have a leading hurdler who can score good points for our yearly total. Aero Bolt has a tough semi-final this Friday where only two qualify but his confidence is high and he should be difficult to contain.
If the weather remains reasonable we will be looking to get some of our leading stars back to the track, Kinda Ready, Blonde Snapper and Eye Onthe Flash will be having workouts while Blonde Fletch (23.89 trial at Romford last Tuesday) and Destroy The Camp are ready to race again. Ayamzagirl will drop down in trip for a crack at the Golden Jacket along with the much improved Aldataro Lass which starts a week Friday.
I'm still trying to work out the way the GBGB have scored the points that stand for the Trainers Championship and to see how different it is from Peter Meldrum's old format that worked so well for more than a couple of decades. It looks more to your advantage to enter as many runners in competitions as you can and not just go for one off opens where you only score 1 point if it's a £150 race or a £300 + race unless it's on Sky. With that in mind I will be targetting as many smaller competitions as bigger ones which means our runners can and will be spread far and wide across the country this year.
A name I said to look out for this year is Mountjoy Moon who duly romped home in an A1 on Saturday at Yarmouth in a fast time. She looks a bit special as did Kinda Dashing who also ran well. Their long term target will be the Monmore Puppy Derby at the end of next month.
No winners at Nottingham on Monday but pleasing runs from both Dalcash Scolari, who led and blew up on the run in when having his first race for 12 weeks, and Risky Rosaleen, who should benefit from her first look at the track.
Our next open racing was at Romford on Friday with Ayamzagirl 2nd in the 'Bring It On Challenge' and on the supporting card Kinda Close came closest when 2nd in a 400m Bitches race before an impressive performance from Bourne Masons who showed guts and speed to lead at the first bend and then stay on well to win by 1 1/4 lengths in 35.67.
On Saturday as said Aero Bolt was impressive when winning his heat of the Springbok by over 5 lengths in 29.68.
Dobbydaize was the only winner on Monday from five runners, leading all the way to score by 2 lengths in 28.84 (+10).
On Saturday four debutantes all performed well. Imperial Sarah was a little unlucky when last, Aero Sparky showed pace when 4th and Blonde Brutus ran well to be 2nd but most impressive was Mountjoy Moon who has pace to burn and despite running green at the bends this June 09 bitch won well in 28.29 (+10). Kinda Dashing who was ko'd in his first race at the track returned to win by 3 1/2 lengths in a good 28.21 (+10).
PERFORMANCE OF THE WEEK
WHAT'S ON NEXT WEEK
Runners at Nottingham tonight include Dalcash Scolari and Eye Onthe Tempo who have good draws in trap 1 over 480m as well as Risky Rosaleen (puppy) and sprinters Goldcrest Lord and Chapelane Harry. Aldataro Lass runs back at Romford in a hot 750m heat of the Coral on TV Marathon.
Opens are thin on the ground Tuesday/Wednesday and Thursday so it's back to Romford Friday and at Wimbledon Aero Bolt bids to make the Springbok final when he runs in a hot semi.
WEBSITE RECOMMENDED BETS
Good news with Aero Bolt looking solid in the Springbok and he now trades a lot shorter than the 7/1 offered before the event started but not so good with Ayamzagirl's costly defeat at Romford. I think Dalcash Scolari should come on a ton for last week's run at Nottingham and though not a big price at the same track tonight he is worth a decent wager.
DALCASH SCOLARI - 4 pts win - Nottingham - tonight
ADVISED LAST WEEK
AYAMZAGIRL - 4 pts win - Romford - Friday - lost
AERO BOLT - 2 pts e.w ante-post 7/1 - Springbok - Wimbledon - continues Friday