23rd December 2020
What a fantastic way to end 2020 with a big race winner as our very last open race runner of the season, Aayamza Royale, lifted the Category One TV Trophy on Saturday night at Hove to add to her Cesarewitch Trophy she won back in September. It was a nervous time waiting for the final to get underway with monsoon like weather an hour before the race was due making the conditions underfoot extremely heavy with the going an estimated 3 seconds slow for the gruelling 945m trip. We knew it wouldn’t be easy repeating the week before's epic semi final as this time Royale was no certainty to turn second to her chief rival Roxholme Kristoff and indeed as they rounded the first two turns in the big final Kristoff had already set sail for home with Royale only fourth. One of her trademarks has always been her ability to pass runners cleanly and once she’d moved into second with a lap to go it was game on again. The going turned the race into a slog fest and the distress signals were clearly there for Roxholme Kristoff as he struggled to skip clear. To the delight of Royale's thousands of fans that her style of running has brought in she quickly passed Kristoff around the last two bends. It looked race over but our nerves hit a crescendo point as trap 3 Redzer Renae had made giant strides for the Gifkins family to also pass Kristoff and was rapidly gaining on Royale, it was a desperate last 50 yards but Royale galvanised herself as she felt the challenge coming and knowing how important the race was thrust herself over the line to score magnificently by a length, with the runner up taking huge credit for a massive run. Unfortunately our other runner, the brilliant Antigua Fire, race was over virtually out the traps with trap 5 Micks Little Gem colliding straight into him and, credit where credit's due, he tried his hardest to get back in the race but struggled with the conditions, he will have a short rest and have one last crack at the Golden Jacket, where he has been runner up for the last two years, before he hangs his muzzle up. Aayamza Royale received many plaudits which were richly deserved and, as well as helping our season finish on a high, she achieved a 30 year long obsession for Aayamza Boys leading syndicate member Mitch Brenner who has always dreamt of winning this coveted marathon title. He came close last year when Aayamza Breeze was just beaten by Bumblebee Bullet and himself and the syndicate have been so fortunate to have Royale stepping into Aayamza Breeze's marathon winning shoes.
As well as Saturday night's big race win we had a great night on Friday with 7 open race victories at two tracks, Romford and Towcester. This included two minor finals at Romford. That certainly is something that can give us great hope that we can start 2021 off with a bang! Our first open race action of the year won’t be until January 8th with the first round of the Essex Vase at Romford, however with a bit of a gap for the open race dogs, it won’t be easy over the Christmas period to prepare them properly for this big competition as trials at tracks seem to be at a premium. One dog we are desperately trying to get fit is last year’s Coronation Cup winner Antigua Rum who has had three trials back with his last two being an impressive 23.97 at Romford and a 28.25 at Monmore. Fingers crossed his injury problems that have kept him out for so long are over and he will be a strong addition to Amanda and Nic Jeal’s team of dogs, indeed the recent Romford 575 winners Antigua Romeo, Antigua Boy and Hopes Doggy will certainly give them some live chances in the Essex Vase.
There has been much talk over the last week about next year's Derby venue with plenty of criticism about the panel that’s been selected by the GBGB. I certainly wouldn’t fancy the job of being a panellist as you couldn’t possibly appease everyone in the sport no matter what track they decide to be the host. The three tracks in the running all have their plus and minus points and of course who knows where we might be with this pandemic by May. If crowds are allowed back in full then for me Towcester would be the only and best choice. We had two magnificent Derby’s at the venue in 2017/18 with awesome racing and a huge crowd which created an atmosphere like the old Derby’s from 20 or 30 years ago. Sponsors fell over themselves to support both meetings and the finals themselves were top class and the Irish loved every minute of them. The viewing that so many criticised surprised all those that hadn’t attended Towcester before. Promoter Kevin Boothby is a proper greyhound man and would fall over himself to make the occasion special again and he deserves the chance to see what he can do. The 500m trip is perfect and it’s ridiculous to say there is any sort of bias towards the rails, at least 80% of dogs running on all tracks are rails or middle seeds with most of the middles taking a middle to rails course rather than a middle to wide one so results will always appear to favour them. If anything you would have more of a chance with a wide seed at Towcester than either of the other two choices to be honest. Nottingham, under the Corden’s, have done an excellent job of staging the event over the last two years and are most likely going to get the chance to do it a third time but it just doesn’t have that Wow! factor for me. Central Park will again put their bid in but as much as their promoter Roger Cairns is another true greyhound man that would do justice to a Derby it’s location is a major downfall, for me it’s Towcester all day long!
I’m never comfortable talking about anyone who has recently died but I was so saddened by the sudden death of Romford trainer Yvonne Gaskin at the weekend. I didn’t know her well but on the many occasions that I saw her over the years both at Romford and open racing we once in a while had a good chat and put the worlds to right. When I spoke to her she came across as such a lovely lady, so kind and thoughtful with the dogs and a bloody good trainer in her own right, our deepest condolences go out to her family.
We will do a quick blog next week but look out for our Website Review of 2020 the following week, which just leaves me to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas.
On Friday we had a good night at both Romford and Towcester. Ivy Hill Skyhigh was most impressive at Romford over 575m scoring in a career best 35.05. In two maiden 575m races both Antigua Boy (35.66) and Hopes Doggy (35.23) won easily. In an action packed Friday Night 500 Standard Final Saffrons Xpress battled to a well deserved victory in 24.33 for the Markwallisgreyhounds Racing Club. We also made it a nice little double in the Friday night 500 finals as Antigua Romeo won the Stayers Final by over 5 lengths in a good 35.29. Over at Towcester, we had a couple of nice winners with Black Eyed Molly scoring her debut win in a good 29.79 and also Agincourt Xena making it three from three at the Northamptonshire circuit when winning in 29.74.
As said, on Saturday at Hove Aayamza Royale landed the TV Trophy although we had no supporting winners on the card.
HENLOW AND TOWCESTER REVIEW
On Tuesday, youngster Ring The Bells won well in an A8 in a good 28.36 and Domino Ninja took an A10 in 28.57. Deans Hail Mary may be four and a half but she brilliantly completed a hatrick when winning a D1 in a fine 16.79.
On Saturday, we had a couple of nice winners with Sligo Lilly scoring in A5 company in 28.31 and Run Free Snowy ran very well to win a classy S2 in 33.80.
We just had four runners at Towcester on Thursday and Silva Hill, who has now been retired, has gone out in style winning his D2 in a very good 16.08. Silva Hill has had an excellent career and was a prolific winner for owner Mike Davis taking 29 wins in his 90 starts.
PERFORMANCE OF THE WEEK
OPEN RACING - AAYAMZA ROYALE
WHAT'S ON NEXT WEEK
We have no open racing for a couple of weeks now and will concentrate on the graded meetings at Towcester and Henlow.
WEBSITE RECOMMENDED BETS
What a great way to finish the season for all our supporters as Aayamza Royale landed the TV Trophy. With no open racing for a couple of weeks, we’ll leave the punting alone and see if we can find some value in the Essex Vase when the 2021 open race action gets underway.
AAYAMZA ROYALE - 5 pts win ante post 7/4 - TV Trophy - Hove - WON
ANTIGUA FIRE - 2 pts ew ante post 10/1 - TV Trophy - Hove - lost