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Guest Column


aayamza_royale_goty2020.jpegI say it every year, where do we begin! The pandemic, yes this damn pandemic! what an effect it has had on our whole lives, I could go on and on but let’s focus on our magnificent achievements in 2021. No doubt 2020 was a touch disappointing looking back at last year's review and that was a year when AAYAMZA ROYALE fantastically won the Greyhound Of the Year title.
Could we bounce back and regain our Trainer of the Year title that we had lost to our friend and former colleague Patrick Janssens after 8 consecutive winning years, well we certainly did that! amassing 1346 points some 359 points clear of Patrick (987) with Kevin Hutton (897) and Dave Mullins (713) Angela Harrison (608) and Liz Mcnair (498) completing the top 6. I certainly would pay tribute to my fellow trainers who like ourselves have battled through a difficult year, Patrick’s brilliant 1-2 in the Derby final establishing themselves as a force to be reckoned with in the coming years while Kevin Hutton had a stellar year with loads of Category 1 titles. Dave Mullins gets better and better each year and no doubt Angela Harrison rules the Northern side of the open race circuit and are formidable but friendly rivals. For us to win a 12th Trainer of the Year title is a fabulous achievement.
Our stats are below but one amazing reason for the success in 2021 is the stupendous amount of Category 1 finalists we achieved. In 2020 one of the reasons we never accumulated so many points was the amount of times our runners were eliminated at the semi final stage, this season we saw the complete opposite, we had no fewer than 39 Category 1 finalists, a truly incredible achievement. We may think that winning just 6 of these meant we slightly under achieved, far from it, on numerous occasions we had multiple finalists, in no fewer than 10 Category 1 finals we had 2 runners representing us and something that’s rarely heard of in 3 major competitions we managed to qualify 3 runners into the finals. So the stats actually say that we won 6 of the 23 finals we took part in, any trainer who had that sort of win percentage in major finals would grab it with both hands I can assure you of that, I can’t tell you how difficult these big finals are to win!
The points accumulated for the Trainer of the Year title are all about the Category 1 success with many points gained by heats and semi final wins as well as the finals themselves and incredibly as well as our 6 winners we had 9 runners up. A bit more luck here or there and we could have easily eclipsed our best year ever back in 2005 where we amassed 1445 points with 7 Category 1 titles but maybe that’s me being ultra competitive.
In our review we will go through month by month including our big winners but special mention should be made of a few of our stars. Aayamza Royale is probably one title short of having a major chance of becoming Greyhound of the Year again but realistically if you look at what she achieved in 2021 she should definitely not be discounted. For the first part of the year we only focussed on the defence of the TV Trophy in May, at the end of March she warmed up by landing the one off match race at Towcester and in early April she broke the track record at Monmore in a TV Trophy trial stake, she bettered that track record winning her heat comfortably and in the final where a few experts predicted she was vulnerable to a defeat she simply destroyed the opposition winning by an incredible 11 lengths in a blistering new track record of 55.00. It was well noted that she wasn’t as in love with Towcester as other tracks and she had to give way to her chief rival Savana Volcano in the Dorando Marathon on Derby Final night in a terrific race. In July we decided to drop her back in trip for the Regency and what a decision that was. After making the final with a brilliant run in the semis she showed what an awesome and exciting race bitch she is when coming from last to first with 200m to go, magnificently landing the prestigious six bend competition, truly one of the all time great performances by one of our dogs in the history of our kennel. In August despite her reservations about Towcester she still broke the track record in the heats of the Category 1 Bookmakers Marathon but unfortunately was second to Savana Volcano in the final beaten just a length. She couldn’t cope with the drop down in trip for the St Leger but came back to Perry Barr to break the track record in the marathon on finals night, and of course who could forget the marathon race of the century in the final of the Category 1 First Containers Marathon where despite a whirlwind finish she was beaten 3/4 length by St Leger winner Space Jet. 12 wins from just 24 races in 2021, 5 times breaking the track record, 2 successes and two runners up in Category 1 finals and runner up in the Dorando. She ran in the two most exciting finals of the year in the Regency and First Containers, now tell me she’s not a contender!
The year certainly wasn’t just about Aayamza Royale for the Aayamza Boys syndicate though. The Bruiser Boys syndicate had one of those years. Bo Shine Bullet made five Category 1 one finals and was desperately unlucky not to win more than one (Kent St Leger) while their Blueberry Bullet was in four Category 1 finals without winning, surely her time will come as she’s without doubt a class act. Amanda and Nic Jeal had an excellent year with their team with flag bearer Antigua Storm making four consecutive Category 1 finals. Two close calls when runner up in the Sussex Cup and Gold Cup were followed by an awesome and most memorable victory in the East Anglian Derby at Yarmouth before being knocked over in the Kent Derby. There was no waiting until September for a Category 1 success like 2020 as their Antigua Romeo scorched to a scintillating victory in the first big race of the year the Essex Vase, while their Antigua Lava had a terrific end to the season making three Category 1 finals before landing a Category 2 success in the Ballyregan Bob Memorial at Hove. Owners Curtis/Johnson & Oliver found 2 incredibly good dogs in Coolavanny Kyser, who made four Category 1 finals, and Ivy Hill Skyhigh who made three finals and both came close to winning but a couple of narrow defeats unluckily meant no big trophy came their way. Drumcrow Brent had a terrific season and gave Michelle Connolly and Mike Davis a first Category 1 success for the kennel on a magnificent summer night at Hove. It goes without saying I thank not just the owners mentioned above but all our loyal owners who make our kennel the most successful one in the history of the sport. We have now plundered 83 group 1 titles including 9 classics and we are racing towards that magical mark of 100! this is still a burning ambition of mine to achieve.
The sport may not be in the best place possible at the moment with a lot of discontent, especially amongst owners, and that’s something for my weekly newsletters but we will start again fresh this season and look to achieve the best results possible on the track. To do this I need and have a great team behind me so a special thank you to my wife Sarah, son Daniel and daughter Emily as well as my mother in law Linda, who still helps us as much as she can, to Sid, Kat, Justine, Becky and Kev as well as Ronnie. Thank you to our physio Ron Mills who provides such a good service and not forgetting Mick & Maureen for all they work they do with our great website and running my Racing Club, I must surely drive them mad! and of course here’s wishing everyone a very Happy New Year and hopefully a successful 2022.
formel_jet_fd.JPGThe Pandemic crisis meant that the sport was back behind closed doors and the world was waiting for the vaccine programme to be rolled out. The show must go on and Formel Jet was our first winner of 2021 in an A6 at Henlow.
We opened our open race campaign off with a four timer at Romford which included three heat winners in the Essex Vase, Drumcrow Brent being our first open race winner of the year. We qualified six in total for the semi finals of the first Category 1 event of 2021.
There was plenty of discussion within the sport on what the future holds with the Pandemic but we did our best to look forward and it was good to see the newly crowned World Darts Champion Gerwyn Price have a dog (Knockard Dylan) in training with us. Antigua Romeo wins his semi final of the Essex Vase and Antigua Rum also qualifies for the final.
antigua_romeo_essexvase21.JPGThe year couldn’t have got off to a better start as ANTIGUA ROMEO produced a stunning performance to land the Essex Vase at Romford for Amanda & Nic Jeal in a high class final. Smashing out the traps he recorded a rapid 13.28 sectional and went on to land the £10,000 to the winner event in a sensational 34.66 just a length outside the track record with Antigua Rum also running very well to finish 3rd.
Kevin Boothby’s promise to have a Category 1 competition every month at Towcester started with the Blue Riband over 500m and will be run without an SIS media deal. A high class event didn’t start well as the intended first round was called off with a frozen track and when it did get underway one heat was void as the traps opened too early and both our runners missed out when straws were drawn to see who went into the semi final as there was no time for a rerun of the heat. More bad news came when ante post favourite Bockos Doomie suffered a fatal injury during the event though ultimately we were treated to a high quality final with our own Coolavanny Kyser making the final.
A promising debut at Crayford for the potential top class stayer Bo Shine Bullet was followed up with an emphatic Golden Jacket Trial Stake win elevating her to the top of next month's event especially as a couple of high profile intended entries withdrew. We looked like we could be strong overall in the event as we got off to a fast start for the year.
antigua_rum_fd.JPGThe month got off to news that RPGTV were breaking new ground by broadcasting on Saturday mornings from Romford and Crayford. The first show featured 6 heats of the Ladbrokes Golden Jacket where both Bo Shine Bullet and Antigua Rum won with Anhid News also qualifying.
Our kennel was in fine form and on Super Sunday the final of the Blue Riband saw Coolavanny Kyser finish a good runner up to Kilara Lion. On the gala open race card we had a fantastic 5 timer.
It was the month that saw the retirement of the prolific duo of Antigua Fire and Coolavanny Messi. Antigua Fire has plenty of straws at stud and was Amanda & Nic Jeal’s flag bearer for a couple of seasons which unluckily only produced one Category 1 victory but was in many big finals.
With the pandemic still causing carnage across the world and racing still behind closed doors the industry awards night was done virtually. A great idea and though 2020 wasn’t the best year we had ever had by a long way we were delighted that Aayamza Royale captured the Greyhound of the Year award. Our seven year reign at the top of the Trainer of the Year standings came to an end when friend and my former Assistant Trainer Patrick Janssens officially took the the trophy.
Bo Shine Bullet was impressive in the Golden Jacket semi finals when winning in 45.00 and Anhid News also made the final and to complete a good day we qualified three runners into the Peter Bussey Memorial final. Aayamza Lexie was quickest winning in 33.62 while Antigua Boy and Hopes Doggy also made the Category 2 final as well.
At Monmore Coolavanny Kyser continued to run well winning his heat of the Winter Derby though we always seem to get a kick in the teeth and open racer Sobers Express suffered a career ending injury at Romford.
anhid_news_fd.JPGBo Shine Bullet was an odds on favourite to take the Golden Jacket but to be honest the whole day left a sour taste in the mouth. Early results clearly showed a bias to the outside runners and despite a reasonable break from trap 1 in the final she struggled to clear the other runners and in a bunched field she took a nasty tumble (thankfully ok after), meanwhile Anhid News just failed to clear the field as well and her chance was lost as she was dragged back at the second bend. The going didn’t help our Peter Bussey finalists either and Aayamza Lexie had to settle for second place.
To finish a hectic month Coolavanny Kyser finished a good third in the Winter Derby final at Monmore while newly crowned Greyhound of the Year Aayamza Royale kicked her year off with a track record over the marathon trip at Monmore which was a good sign for her defence of the TV Trophy which will be at the midlands track.
Quite possibly the quietest month I can ever remember since I was training. There was plenty of discontent amongst owners with the lack of a full programme of events scheduled and the pandemic wasn’t helping though with the vaccine roll out in progress there was light at the end of the tunnel.
Our graders were in terrific form at Henlow and we were having a very good strike rate. The only real highlight of the month was Aayamza Royale’s win in the invitational marathon match race at Towcester beating Savana Volcano and Three Ems.
It was good to be back in competition mode as the Laurels at Perry Barr kicked off but the first prize of £6,500 which just about made it a Category 1 event was a sign of the times. Off the track there were strong rumours that Henlow and Towcester promoter Kevin Boothby was going to take over the recently closed Oxford and Mildenhall.
At last owners were allowed back through the doors at some tracks which was good news for Towcester with the Derby fast approaching.
ivyhill_skyhigh_fd.JPGAfter what seemed ages it was good to be involved in another big final and both Coolavanny Kyser and Ivy Hill Skyhigh looked to hold a chance in the Laurels but ultimately it was Ivy Hill Skyhigh who went closest when beaten by the shortest of short heads to Liz Mcnair’s Havana Class with Kyser back in 5th.
Entain held its own track championship (Romford, Hove, Crayford and Monmore) which was very popular and won by host track Hove.
antigua_socks_fd.JPGTowcester were set for a busy month with plenty of Derby Trial Stakes and in a high class Maiden Derby Antigua Socks went out in the semi final eventually won impressively by Patrick Janssens' Thorn Falcon.
Aayamza Royale prepared for the defence of her TV Trophy at Monmore impressively winning a trial stake in a track record 55.91 and a week later she bettered that winning her heat by over 10 lengths in a scintillating 55.26.
We had plenty of runners in the Derby trial Stakes with Ivyhill Skyhigh and Drumcrow Brent winning while also Bo Shine Bullet won her heat of the Category 1 George Ing St Leger in a good 40.26 with Anhid News also qualifying for the semi finals.
The superlatives kept coming for days and weeks after a quite stunning victory for AAYAMZA ROYALE at Monmore in the TV Trophy Final, she quite simply destroyed her opposition winning by over 11 lengths in another blistering track record 55.00. That was the third TV Trophy in a row for the kennel following on from Bumblebee Bullet's victory in 2019 and ‘Lydia’s’ double. To complete a good night for the kennel Coolavanny Kyser took a minor Standard Final over 480m.
coolavanny_kyser_fd.JPGWe were hoping for a quick fire double Category 1 success the next weekend at Yarmouth but in a fine George Ing St Leger final Bo Shine Bullet had to give second best to an on fire Blue Tick George beaten a couple of lengths.
In total there were 180 entries for the Greyhound Derby filled with quality and we had 8 entries from us. Coolavanny Kyser was our shortest priced runner at 66/1 ante post.
The Greyhound Derby kicked off at Towcester sponsored by Star Sports & TC Events & Leisure spread over three nights. Drumcrow Brent pulled off an industry gamble when taking his first round heat but overall it was not great news for our kennel as all our other seven entries were eliminated at the first round stage. 
Our graded dogs were in scintillating form at Henlow where we had no less than 4 kennel 1-2’s in top grade A1’s across a weekend. The team was also in good form at Romford with Playbook taking a Bitches 400m final.
Bo Shine Bullet got her Kent St Leger campaign off to a good start at Crayford with a 9 length success in 45.40 and quickly followed it up with a fluent semi final victory in a fine 45.27.
The Greyhound Derby was in full flow but crowds were restricted with the continuing pandemic. Despite some brilliant action on the track Towcester was taking its fair share of criticism, trap 1 is no good, the traps are not flat to the ground, the hare is too long, the first bend is too tight etc etc. Meanwhile our sole survivor Drumcrow Brent makes it through to the quarter final stage. Promoter Kevin Boothby signs the deal to bring racing back to both Mildenhall (to be renamed Suffolk Downs) and Oxford.
boshinebullet_kentstleger21.jpgBO SHINE BULLET has to battle hard for the lead in the Category 1 Ladbrokes Kent St Leger final at Crayford but once doing that at the third bend she galloped away for a comfortable 6 length success in 45.55 for the Bruiser Boys, very much gaining compensation for the Golden Jacket tumble back in February.
Our hopes of a third Greyhound Derby title were extinguished as Drumcrow Brent is eliminated at the quarter final stage despite a valiant effort.
antigua_mememe_fd.JPGIn the supporting competitions alongside the greyhound Derby at Towcester, we qualified Aayamza Royale for the Dorando Marathon when she took her heat in 58.92 though she was a few lengths slower than chief rival Savana Volcano who won in 58.51. In the stayers heats, both Antigua Mememe and Fatboyz Trixie qualified for the final whilst in the 500 metre heats, Drumcrow Brent and Ivy Hill Skyhigh also made their respective final. Meanwhile over at Romford, Antigua Socks was making waves and took the Friday Night 500 standard final in a fine 23.85.
It was Greyhound Derby finals night at Towcester and there was a very healthy crowd despite the fears that the pandemic would impact this severely. We were treated to some great racing but unfortunately nothing seemed to go our way and it was a very rare occasion that we came away without a winner. Aayamza Royale ran her heart out when runnner up to Savana Volcano in the Dorando Marathon but we had no luck elsewhere. The Derby final itself went to Thorn Falcon who led home a memorable 1-2 for former assistant trainer Patrick Janssens.
Antigua Romeo was retired after a brilliant career of winning many opens and, without doubt, this years Essex Vase victory was the real highlight.
The competitions straight after the Derby were coming thick and fast and Towcester had a very high class Juvenile Classic and both our entries, Blueberry Bullet and Billis Tudor, came through their heats and semi finals with Billis Tudor winning his semi final in 29.79 at a juicy 20/1.
After the Derby our 63 point lead in the trainer of the year standings had turned into a 90 point deficit but we were hopeful of having a decent couple of months, especially as we were sending a quality team down to Hove for the Sussex Cup and Regency competitions that were running alongside each other.
Both our runners in the £12,500 to the winner Juvenile Classic final at Towcester ran very well with Blueberry Bullet finishing third and Billis Tudor fourth to Brookside Richie respectively. Over at Hove we made a cracking start to their competitions with most of our team qualifying for the semi finals of both these summer events.
rail_mccoy_fd.JPGOur regular Friday night trips to Romford were paying good dividends with plenty of winners and it was good to see crowds returning to the tracks in these summer months of racing. The improving Rail Mccoy took the heat and final of the Friday night 500 maiden in good style whilst over at Hove we had an excellent night where we qualified three runners into the Sussex Cup final. Antigua Storm making his competition debut ran very well as well as Ivy Hill Skyhigh and Drumcrow Brent. Whilst in the Regency, our serial finalist Bo Shine Bullet and Aayamza Royale won their semi finals in great fashion to make it through to a hot Regency final.
drumcrow_brent_sussex21.JPGA brilliant end to the month as firstly, the Sussex Cup final gave us a magnificent 1-2. Antigua Storm produced a stunning burst of speed to lead and the race looked at his mercy before the strong DRUMCROW BRENT swept round the outside to catch him right on the line to land the £10,000 to the winner first prize for owners Michelle Connolly and Mike Davis.
aayamza_royale_regency21.JPG45 minutes later, the night got even better when superstar AAYAMZA ROYALE produced a breathtaking performance to land the Regency. As expected, she was well behind with a lap to go and was still some ten lengths behind down the back straight as she started to make a move and, in the last 200 metres, she incredibly swept past all her 5 rivals including Bo Shine Bullet to miraculously get up on the line to land her fourth Category 1 of what was becoming a legendary career. The Ayamaza Boys' pride and joy lapped up all the plaudits for such a memorable win and a very memorable double for the kennel. The double victory put us right back on top of the Trainer of the Year standings. Also on the card, we saw the emergence of Marathon star Antigua Lava who set tongues wagging with a breathtaking performance in the marathon.
fatboyz_exile_fd.JPGThankfully the competitions were coming thick and fast and quickly following the Hove finals we moved to the Midlands for the double header with the Ladbrokes Gold Cup and the Ladbrokes Summer Stayers at Monmore. We got off to a good start with a fine run from Antigua Storm who won first time up in a very good 28.21. In the Summer Stayers Fatboys Exile and Ivy Hill Skyhigh took their heats but none was more impressive than Blueberry Bullet who won her heat in a fastest of the night 37.72.
It seems like every year after we had a couple of warm dry months in the summer injuries hit the sport and despite having plenty of success we had a poor month for dogs going lame. Playbook and Bower Jet (gracilis), Ballyhimikin Boy (hock) and Towstar Luna and Fatboyz Trixie (metatarsals) all faces long spells on the sidelines but all would be ok in the long term.
At Monmore the semi finals of the Gold Cup saw Antigua Storm make it through to his second consecutive Category 1 final and we did even better with another haul of three runners getting into the Summer Stayers final with Fatboyz Exile, Blueberry Bullet and Ivy Hill Skyhigh all running well. Bo Shine Bullet should have qualified but was distracted on the run in, an incident that had happened at the track on more than one occasion recently.
It was a big weekend for the kennel with Aayamza Royale beating old rival Savana Volcano by 5 lengths in the heats of the Category 1 Bookmakers Marathon in a track record 58.21 while once again we managed to get three through to a big final as Antigua Lava and Antigua Mememe also qualified for the £12,500 event, again some excellent prize money put on offer by Kevin Boothby and Towcester. Drumcrow Brent was reeling off the open race wins scoring well over 500m in a scintillating 29.28 and he earned a spot in the forthcoming Select Stakes.
The next weekend couldn’t come quick enough but despite our high hopes of landing at least one Category 1 event it just didn’t happen. Our three runners in the Ladbrokes Summer Stayers all tangled up with each other allowing Angela Harrison’s Coolavanny Banni to skip clear to victory. Fatboyz Exile ran best to finish 3rd and both Blueberry Bullet (4th) and Ivy Hill Skyhigh (6th) looked unlucky. You couldn’t fault the run of Antigua Storm in the Gold Cup as Minglers Popeye stole a march on all his rivals with a smash break, Storm chased him home valiantly before going down by 3/4 length. If the luck isn’t quite with you then that’s the way it goes sometimes and in the Bookmakers Marathon final at Towcester the next day Aayamza Royale was badly crowded by 100/1 shot Roseville Tiger at the first bend holding her up and allowing chief rival Savana Volcano to steal first run, with crowding amongst the other runners including Antigua Lava and Antigua Mememe the Volcano has skipped clear, Royale chased valiantly but just failed by a length to catch Kevin Boothby’s pride and joy and gave trainer Diane Henry another victory over our Greyhound of the Year at Towcester.
antigua_cuddles_fd.jpgDrumcrow Brent was an excellent 3rd in the Select Stakes at Nottingham and we saw a nice winning debut for the promising pup Antigua Cuddles who won well in a 500m Maiden. We were a touch unlucky with our only entry for the Three Steps To Victory at Sheffield where Bombardier was most impressive in the 480 winning in 27.76 over 480m but had a horrible draw in the 500m semi finals and was just eliminated.
At Nottingham the ‘Judgement Night’ replaced the Trainers Championship meeting where the top 6 trainers from 2021 had first refusal to take part. The meeting itself was a bit low key crowd wise though it was good of Rachel Corden and Ian Smyth to organise the event. Prize money was decent enough and the camaraderie amongst the trainers taking part excellent and the racing itself was high class. Going into the final leg any one of four trainers could win but unfortunately not ourselves as our team was not as strong as I liked especially with the East Anglian Derby in full flow and the St Leger starting a few days later. Eventually Kevin Hutton snatched victory from Angela Harrison in an exciting last race to lift the trophy with ourselves finishing back in 5th place.
It was a very sad time for the kennel as we had to say goodbye to our beloved Domino Storm who passed away after a short illness, I covered this in an excellent piece in our 15th September newsletter.
There were still major concerns with the whole wide world pandemic despite the vaccination programme in full swing and all we could really do is concentrate and focus on our dogs at the kennel and the racing. At Yarmouth in the East Anglian Derby we were pleased to be doubly represented in the final as Billis Tudor qualified as well as Antigua Storm who scorched round to win his semi final in 27.64.
We may not have been as strong as we would have liked in two major events starting. In the Empress Stakes at Towcester Agincourt Xena and Black Eyed Molly made it through to the semi finals as did Aero Activate in the Romford Puppy Cup but that unfortunately was as far as they got. Much stronger was our staying team for the forthcoming St Leger at Perry Barr which also had the Birmingham Cup supporting it, something that seemed the norm in these extraordinary times we live in these days.
antigua_storm_eaderby21pres.jpgThe Bresbet East Anglian Derby final night was certainly one of the highlights of 2021 and though both our finalists were our only runners on the card it was a thoroughly enjoyable occasion and of course not least because ANTIGUA STORM came from virtually last to first to land the £15,000 first prize for owners Nic & Amanda Jeal. It was a breathtaking display of pace and track craft to score in 27.76 with Billis Tudor also running well back in 4th place.
Thankfully the travelling restrictions didn’t stop my annual Calco Cup golfing holiday in late September though it was strange coming back from Cyprus to a sudden fuel crisis as if we weren’t having enough problems! however It was good to see we had qualified two runners through to the St Leger final but not quite the ones you might have expected as Bo Shine Bullet, Aayamza Royale, Bombardier and Aayamza Dream were all eliminated. Blueberry Bullet was most impressive winning her heat and the semi final in the fastest time and Antigua Mememe had surprisingly also made the stayers classic final. In the Category 1 supporting Michael Lambe Construction Birmingham Cup Coolavanny Kyser did well to make another big final.
Aero Madrid reeled back the years to keep our regular Romford winners ticking over landing the Friday Night 500 Standard final to complete another huge points scoring month for the kennel where we had raced into a 200 + point lead in the Trainer of the Year standings as we now topped 1000 points for the season.
blueberry_bullet_fd.JPGThe St Leger has so often been a very lucky race for us but the last couple of years that luck has deserted us and at Perry Barr this year Blueberry Bullet looked to have a great chance but unfortunately was chopped off at the first bend by pace setter Night Time Danny and again when making a move at the third bend she was stopped in her tracks again and the race was over for her, Antigua Mememe ran a cracker to finish 3rd to winner Space Jet. Draws can play a huge part in finals and in the Michael Lambe Construction Birmingham Cup final Coolavanny Kyser and Duke De Janerio in trap 2 crashed into each other out the traps effectively ending their chances, in the end Coolavanny Kyser finished 4th. On the supporting card Aayamza Royale broke the track record winning a supporting marathon comfortably.
There was plenty of open race action everywhere and at Central Park Antigua Storm started his Kent Derby campaign well when second in his heat to ante post favourite Brookside Ritchie. Ballymac Odie also qualified but Billis Tudor was eliminated.
Also starting was the Champion Stakes at Romford where Bombardier took his heat and both Bo Shine Bullet and All Fours qualified safely. Over at Towcester the First Containers Marathon kicked off, Antigua Lava took her heat by 14 lengths in a fastest of the day 56.38 while we were treated to a cracking heat with St Leger hero Space Jet beating both Aayamza Royale and Savana Volcano in 56.48 to set up a marathon final as good as you'e ever likely to see in our sport.
Some rare opens and small competitions at Henlow in October with promising youngster Early Knight 2nd in a puppy event. We went one better in the 550m Maiden final with Ballymac Honest who won well in an excellent 33.20.
Antigua Storm making his 4th consecutive Category 1 final in the Kent Derby at Central Park was unfortunately sent crashing to the floor at the second bend which resulted in a dislocated toe, it could have been worse but a small operation was needed on his toe effectively ruling him out for the rest of the season.
Both Bombardier and Bo Shine Bullet qualify for the final of the Coral Champion Stakes, Bo Shine Bullet winning in a fastest of the competition 35.07. Unfortunately the draw was not kind to us in the final as they got traps 4 & 5!!
Balterio was making a name for himself after a couple of good performances at Towcester including a nice 29.54 Maiden victory and he headed for the Steel City Cup as our only entry, sadly Billis Tudor broke his hock at the third bend at Sheffield in a pre competition trial. Balterio qualified well when chasing home the high class Signet Ace in the first round and the following week he made the final when 3rd in his semi final.
bombardier_fd.jpgThe draw in the final of the Champion Stakes proved to be impossible though Bombardier did threaten down the back straight before a charging run from eventual winner Night Time Danny for Steve Raynor, Bo Shine Bullet was a touch unlucky but finished last though connections had plenty to smile about as Blueberry Bullet landed the supporting Mitch Millward Marathon final.
It was a frustrating weekend as what was dubbed the ‘race of the year’ and possibly the best marathon race ever anticipated proved to be a cracker. The First Containers Marathon at Towcester saw Antigua Lava and Burgess Elite contest the lead until the 7th bend but firstly eventual winner Space Jet and Aayamza Royale came sweeping round the last two bends and 5 of the 6 finalists all had a chance as they raced for the line with Space Jet beating Royale by 3/4 length with Lava 1/2 length behind in 3rd. The race drew great plaudits from the Greyhound world, ultimately the narrow defeat for Aayamza Royale may have cost her a chance to retain her Greyhound of the Year title.
A really busy month as we approached the end of the season though it started on a sad note as we heard news that owner/kennelhand and former RPGTV presenter Jack Murrell had passed away at a stupidly young age, a lovely fella who had been a popular figure in the Greyhound world for a number of years.
balterio_fd.jpgOn the track Balterio ran well at a big price to finish a creditable 4th in the Steel City Cup final at Sheffield while at Towcester the big competitions kept on coming with the Hunt Cup over 712m getting underway. Blueberry Bullet was impressive in the first round winning her heat in a fastest of the round 43.47 while Antigua Lava produced a whirlwind finish to win in 43.73. Aayamza Dream nearly made it a treble when beaten a short head in her heat.
Connections decided to retire Coolavanny Kyser after an excellent season and in his last race he didn’t disappoint when landing a minor 550m Maiden Stayers final at Henlow in an excellent 33.20, a great way to retire.
aayamza_lexie_fd.JPGAayamza Dream ran a cracker to take her semi final of the Hunt Cup but was rewarded with a difficult draw in trap 4 but both Blueberry Bullet and Antigua Lava were eliminated. Over at Crayford our luck was out a touch as the Gold Collar saw just Aayamza Lexie qualify from the heats, while also we were disappointed that Drumcrow Brent went out of the Eclipse at the first round stage.
Arc/Entain produced a good news story when announcing a major boost in prize money for 2022 at their tracks and certain competitions through the year will have a huge upgrade in win prize money to £20,000 including the likes of the Monmore Puppy Derby and St Leger. In all some 49 Category 1 competitions were pencilled in for 2022 by the GBGB Open Race Committee and Henlow/Towcester promoter Kevin Boothby stating he will add more at Oxford and Suffolk Downs once they are open in early 2022. Still there was an undercurrent of discontent amongst owners who’s major problem was seeing most racing being suited to the bookmakers service rather than themselves and seemed certain that tracks can’t survive without media contracts, this was also fired up by the resignation of owners rep Paul Carpenter after 3 short months who found the conflicts of interest in the GBGB board unacceptable.
aayamza_dream_fd.jpgA brilliant run from Aayamza Dream in the Hunt Cup final at Towcester but yet again another 2nd in a Category 1 as she chased home Salacres Pippy in the £12,5000 to the winner event. Aayamza Lexie was a touch unlucky when eliminated from the Gold Collar semi finals at Crayford though we once again saw Blueberry Bullet impressive in the heats of a Category 1 event when winning her Cesarewitch heat in 56.26 with Antigua Lava also qualifying but Aayamza Royale found her path blocked several times when failing to qualify.
It was lovely to see Romford legend Adageo Bob inducted into the Hall of Fame and owner Ann Barfoot and her family treated to a night out at the track.
It was beginning to get to us as we yet again finished second in a major event when Blueberry Bullet couldn’t give Salcres Pippy a start and had to chase home Peter Harnden’s in form bitch in the Cesarewitch decider with Antigua Lava back in 4th, obviously though we were scoring huge points for the Trainer of the Year standings and were now well over 300 points clear at the top going into the last month.
As usual December brought the usual amount of bad weather with high winds and rain battering the country and of course we were still facing further restrictions with the pandemic. The Olympic kicked off at Hove and Drumcrow Brent qualified for the semi finals while we prepared a large team for the supporting competitions with Aayamza Royale winning a trial stake for the George Curtis & Ballyregan Bob Memorial and new intake former Oaks winner Ballymac Trend preparing for the Brighton Belle.
bryce_canyon_fd.JPGRPGTV celebrated its 10th anniversary with some sponsored races and in form Antigua Socks just missed out in the 400m final but Bryce Canyon landed the Friday Night 500 Stayers.
Drumcrow Brent had a fine season including landing the Sussex Cup but was eliminated in the Olympic semi finals though it was a good night at Hove as we won all three heats of the Ballyregan Bob Memorial over 740m with victories from Aayamza Dream, Antigua Lava beat kennelmate Blueberry Bullet and Aayamza Royale showed just how much she loves Hove with another powerful finish to take the honours in her heat. In the Brighton Belle a back to form Aayamza Lexie beat Ballymac Trend with both safely through to the final.
On our last weekend of open race action Antigua Socks finished a solid year with a nice win at Romford when landing the Yvonne Gaskin Memorial Trophy, his 6th win in his last 10 races.
antigua_lava_ballyreganbobmemorial21.JPGWe had no luck in a messy Brighton Belle final but the season ended on a high in a fantastic finish to the George Curtis & Ballregan Bob Memorial final as Antigua Lava nailed Aayamza Dream right on the line to land the spoils with both Blueberry Bullet and Aayamza Royale colliding at the first bend ending their chances. That was certainly reward for Antigua Lava who had an excellent last 6 months of the year. Over at Monmore we completed an excellent 5 timer which was pleasing as we had supported their regular opens on Saturday nights throughout the year.
For the record Bombardier was our final open race winner of 2021 taking a 684m open at Monmore while Swift Quad was our last graded winner at Henlow on the 27th December.




Category 1

Essex Vase - Romford - Antigua Romeo - £10.000
Ladbrokes TV Trophy - Monmore - Aayamza Royale- 310,000
Ladbrokes Kent St Leger - Crayford - Bo Shine Bullet - £7500
Coral Sussex Cup - Hove - Drumcrow Bent - £10,000
Coral Regency - Hove - Aayamza Royale - £10,000
East Anglian Derby - Yarmouth - Antigua Storm - £15,000 

Category 2 

George Curtis & Ballyregan Bob Memorial - Hove - Antigua Lava - £3000

Category 3

Marathon Shootout - Towcester - Aayamza Royale - £1000
Yvonne Gaskin Memorial - Romford - Antigua Socks - £750
Mitch Millward Memorial - Blueberry Bullet Romford - £500
Ladbrokes Standard - Monmore - Coolavanny Kyser - £500
Debbie Divers Race to the Bar - Romford - Playbook - £500
Friday Night 500 Standard - Romford - Antigua Socks - £500
Friday Night 500 Maiden Standard - Romford - Rail McCoy - £500
Friday Night 500 Standard - Romford - Aero Madrid - £500
550m Maiden - Henlow - Ballymac Honest - £500
550m Maiden - Henlow - Coolavanny Kyser - £500
Friday Night 500 - Romford - Bryce Canyon - £500

Aayamza Royale (120
Bo Shine Bullet (12)
Rail McCoy (12)
Lost Without You (11)
Antigua Socks (10) 



Aero Madrid (3)
Bo Shine Bullet (3)
Blueberry Bullet (3)
Ivy Hill Skyhigh (3) 


Saffrons Tiger (3)
Swift Pinch (3)
Drumcrow Bruce (3)
Bryce Canyon (3)
Energize Eclipse (3) 


(East Anglian Derby Final) 






1st GAV'S BLUES 1   273 points
2nd KAI'S TEAM 1   268 points
3rd PROMBLUES 1    255 points


1st Daniel   234 points
2nd Justine   212 points
3rd Sid   209 points


Antigua Lava   77 points
Blueberry Bullet   75 points
Drumcrow Brent   72 points
Aayamza Royale   72 points