9th April 2019
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We may not have won Saturday night but I thought overall it was a vintage Gain GTA Trainers Championship at Sheffield. We were treated to some top class and exciting racing and to have five of the six trainers all in with a chance of winning going into the final leg was quite amazing. In the end the deserving winner Angela Harrison took the magnificent trophy away from us but we will aim to be back next year to reclaim it.
For us it was essential that we got off to a fast start and in the first leg, the bitches race, Chubbys Turkana looked a likely winner going down the back straight when she turned second behind Move Over Eddie but she firstly ran up the backside of the leader at the third bend and then made the wrong decision to try and pass on the outside coming out of the last bend, the pack closed and she was shuffled back eventually finishing 4th to Patrick Janssens' Seaglass Celine. We nearly got it right in the second leg, the Puppy race, as Droopys Cruiser turned second to Chicago Fire after a messy first bend which saw Sneezys Rebel get knocked over. Droopys Cruiser did some tremendous running to reduce the deficit to a length or so but again like Chubbys Turkarna he made the wrong decision to try and pass on the outside losing valuable ground and had to settle for second place behind Kevin Hutton’s runner. Only 10 points from the first two races was at least 4 points less than I really wanted.
The third leg, the 480 Standard, didn’t go well for us when Brinkleys Rosie missed her break and she struggled to get in a telling blow finishing 5th behind Droopys Trapper but her time will come and then in the sprint race, despite a flying exit from Silva Hill, he just couldn’t get across to the rails and was shuffled back to last place behind surprise winner Lost One Dare of Kevin Hutton’s. Halfway through the Championship and I’d resigned myself to defeat and the title looked destined to go to one of the early leaders with nothing to choose between Angela Harrison, Kevin Hutton and Patrick Janssens up front.
Our last chance of a dramatic comeback ended really when Brigadier Bullet lost out by a whisker for second place to Affleck Bolt in the top division of the Stayers but with Phil Simmonds' massively underrated Ridgedale Max taking the honours, bringing him into the mix, we never lost too much ground, then in division B of the Stayers we at last got onto the podium with a winner when Antigua Fire simply blew his rivals away for a comfortable victory and with the main principals' runners all at the back there was a glimmer of hope with Antiguas Fire's victory but realistically only a glimmer.
Angela Harrison was now only in 3rd place as we entered the final two legs and her position was straight forward, her two big guns Droopys Verve and Droopys Expert both needed to win. In division A of the Standard we got really excited as Saleen Ash pinged the lids and led up, looking back to his best thoughts of a miraculous comeback and a chance to retain the trophy was still there as he swept into a 3 length lead but then the heart sank as coming out of the pack we saw the white vested runner Droopys Verve. Breath taking, I would describe the back straight pace of that dog and before the third bend he swept pass Saleen Ash to go on and score by a couple of lengths in a fast 28.62. Ash ran a blinder to take 7 points in second place and amazingly the way the results panned out we were only 3 points behind the leader Angela Harrison with Kevin Hutton, Patrick Janssens and Philip Simmonds all mathematically still in with a chance of taking the spoils.
Glory Snake from trap 5 had the unenviable job of trying to retain the trophy for us in the last leg and the excitement and nerves for all five trainers was there to be seen. I was now starting to think if only Turkana had not mucked up her chance or Brigadier had nicked second instead of third and maybe Silva Hill and Brinkleys Rosie could have nabbed one point more, not that it was a slur on those particular dogs, but if that was the case we would have only needed to finish 3rd/4th or maybe even 5th in the final leg to retain the trophy but that’s the unpredictable nature of this great event. A good break from Glory Snake came but he couldn’t escape the draw and the sheer raw and devastating pace of Droopys Expert was way too much for his rivals and to the delights of the roars from the North East contingent he coasted to a great victory for Angela and her partner Jimmy Wright landing a deserving first Trainers Championship. Glory Snake tried his best but finished 5th and we ended up a respectable 4th overall.
The bars and restaurants were packed on the night though the crowds and punters outside on the terraces was a little disappointing. Maybe the fact of a busy sporting day with the Grand National and Sheffield Wednesday playing at home had an impact as well as the the meeting being well covered on RPGTV didn’t help though there was a magnificent atmosphere in the restaurant where we were which made for a great night. The camaraderie amongst the trainers and kennel staff taking part was excellent and sponsors Gain and the GTA can take full credit for putting on a great show. It’s fabulous news that they will sponsor the event again in 2020 and Sheffield looks likely to play host again as well. If I could change anything I would love to see all the major bookmakers who sponsor RPGTV put in maybe another £1,000 each to boost the overall prize money both for the races and the trainers/kennelhands purse and as for the night itself the Puppy and Bitches races need to be over 500m not 480m to give them more time to sort themselves out and the last two legs should be division A of both the Stayers and Standard races, it just didn’t make sense having the division b of the Standard as the last race, but that’s only a small criticism in what was a tremendous night for the sport.
We move on now and the action comes thick and fast. This Thursday the Coral Regency gets underway and recently we have had a good record in the event, the legend Billys Bullet was our last winner in 2016 and we have had plenty of finalists and this year it looks a cracking high quality event. Saturday night's Trainers Championship winner Antigua Fire joins Brigadier Bullet and I wasn't surprised to see them drawn in the same heat, that was a 1/10 chance, they face some stiff opposition including Headford Maurice, who beat Brigadier at Monmore recently and the Henlow Maiden Gold Cup winner Roxholme Butt. Avastorm moved well in a trial over track and trip clocking a decent 41.65 and she faces last year's winner Clares Kyletaun. Veteran Aayamza Breeze amazingly makes the line up for the third consecutive year and was favourite to win the final in 2017 but was knocked over that night, she faces our No Can Boogie who should be well suited to the track and trip.
Brinkleys Poet continues his comeback and after an excellent 16.01 sprint trial at Sheffield, he now trials before racing at Hove on Thursday over 490m. He's bouncing at the moment and looks mad keen for racing, more importantly he's had no issues with any injuries and our physio Ron Mills is incredibly pleased with his progress. With the Derby a little over a month away the next couple of weeks will tell us whether he's a player or not, he's still not three until next month so there's every reason to be excited.
Our new acquisition Alien Sea also went well in a sprint trial at Sheffield (16.13) and this strong running youngster also trials over 515m this Thursday. He looks an exciting proposition and the Derby is very much on his radar.
After Thursday we have a small matter of a Bunny Gold Cup to try and win on Sunday at Henlow. The Category 2 event sees us with four in the final after an excellent day last Sunday. Chubbys Caviar is unbeaten over track and trip and needs to beat Paul Young's Itsur Mate (fastest in semi's 34.08 -40) to the bend if she is to be successful. Busters Bullet is improving all the time for us and could be a real danger if breaking well from trap 1, he was just caught on the line by an incredible run from Towstar Arry (34.11 - 40). That was Towstar Arry's second run back from a serious hock injury sustained at Towcester in the summer last year and though this trip is on the sharp side it would be a tremendous story if he was to come through and win, as long as he comes off sound he will add strength to our open race team for the rest of 2019. Our last finalist Garryglass Champ is in his swan song and though not quite the force of old he is more than capable of upsetting the applecart!
On Sunday evening we return to Central Park as the heats of the Grand National get underway and we will bring defending champion Parkers Dynamite back to try and retain his title. Not too much has gone right for him since his stunning victory last year as a few niggles and the odd loss of form has seen him race only sparingly but it was brilliant to see him bounce back with a nice sprint hurdle open race win last Sunday, he obviously likes the track and you never know!
Of course it goes without saying one of the saddest days I've had in recent times came on Monday when my good friend Patrick Janssens called me to say that Pete Vernon (with Lil Risky) had passed away. Pete was suffering from tumours to the brain and had been very ill since just before Christmas. A measure of how popular Pete was came on social media as a plethora of messages via Twitter and Facebook came through all day Monday and Tuesday, that seems to be the way these days. Pete worked for both myself and Linda from 2001 for 15 years before joining Patrick three years ago. In that time he saw our kennel have over 50 Category 1 successes including two Greyhound Derby victories. I made a glowing tribute to him on our website when he decided to retire four years ago but after a few days he decided he still wanted to be involved and joined Patrick who himself has seen plenty of success with Pete. So much has been said and I can't add much more than what ive already said, without doubt he was the kindest man with a greyhound I've ever seen, he was unique and the dogs ran for him, whether it be a top class open racer or an A10 grader, wherever he went he brought winners back. He worked hard in the kennel and loved his music, football and our great sport, he was so popular amongst other kennelhands and always gave anyone a hand if they needed it. His favourite dogs included Roswell Spaceman, Blonde Fletch and Domino Storm amongst many others. He always bought us some nice thoughtful presents at Christmas, which was always appreciated, and we genuinely missed seeing his bouncy nature when he left our kennel. On behalf of myself, Sarah, Daniel, Emily and Linda and all at Imperial Kennels we send our deepest condolences to Pete's family.
Apart from some trials at Hove on Thursday everything was geared up for a busy weekend. As covered above we eventually finished 4th in the Gain GTA Trainers Championship at Sheffield but I was proud of the way all our team tried their hardest.
On Sunday we had a great day at Henlow as we qualified four into the final of the Bunny Gold Cup. Chubbys Caviar and Towstar Arry took their semi finals in different styles and both Busters Bullet and Garryglass Champ made it through as well when runners up. Parkers Dynamite scored a fine victory in a sprint hurdle in 16.56 at Central Park and Antigua Flash was a close up 3rd over 480m.
Last Monday Adageo Joma got a long awaited victory in a B3 in 26.17, Savana Matt scored in an A6 in a good 28.36 but incurred the wrath of the stewards getting an awkward comment.
On Tuesday morning Aayamza Bonnie won well in an A4 in 28.31 and in the evening Adageo Zoomer took an A7 in 28.57.
On Thursday Towstar Billy beat kennelmate All Slick Now in a D1 in 17.06 and Ping Be Slick won an A6 very well in 28.08 while Nothing But Love also ran well when second in an S2.
On Sunday as well as the opens Algo For You won a good A3 when just getting up on the line to score in 28.18 while Galssmoss Sis and Calco Cool were both second.
PERFORMANCE OF THE WEEK
OPEN RACING - PARKERS DYNAMITE
WHAT'S ON NEXT WEEK
Our open racing this week starts with a bang as we travel to Hove on Thursday for the start of the Coral Regency with a strong team of five.
We could be at Romford Friday and I may enter a couple at Monmore in the Spring Festival on Saturday.
On Sunday we have the start of the Grand National at Central Park where Parkers Dynamite defends his crown and before that we have a small matter of four runners in the Bunny Gold Cup final.
WEBSITE RECOMMENDED BETS
We ended up having a chance to win the Gain GTA Trainers Championship going into the final leg but that was put to bed all too quick as Droopys Expert landed the title for Angela Harrison.
However we have an excellent chance of a nice pay day as Chubbys Caviar goes into the Bunny Gold Cup final at a warm 5/4 chance and the 10/1 looks very good at the moment. Of our other three runners Busters Bullet with a plot draw on the rails looks a tad over priced and I wouldn't put anyone off a small interest on him.
The Coral Regency kicks off on Thursday and we have five runners all of whom are more than capable of getting to the final at least. I hate to pin my hopes just on one and I wouldn't put anyone off playing Brigadier Bullet and Antigua Fire while No Can Boogie and our old war horse Aayamza Breeze have definite each way claims but purely on value terms I'm going to put Avastorm up as my tip. She might be hard to win with but will relish this stiff test and has excellent each way claims, the ante post prices haven't come out yet but I'm expecting 25/1 +.
Parkers Dynamite took the Grand National title last year and was recommended by us at 25/1, he could well be bigger this year but his recent work outs and last Sunday's win in a sprint hurdle means we have to show a bit of sentiment and have a small wager.
AVASTORM - 1.5 pts each way ante post - Coral Regency - Hove - starts Thursday
BUSTERS BULLET - 1 pt each way 8/1 (Paddy Power) - Bunny Gold Cup - Henlow - final Sunday
PARKERS DYNAMITE - 1.5 pts each way ante post - Grand National - Central Park - starts Sunday
To complete a great week we have the Masters starting on Thursday, one of my favourite sporting events of the year. I will keep it brief, 18/1 chance John Rahm will win! Of the ones 33/1 or better Mark Leishman loves this course and 45/1 seems fair each way value while the 140/1 (top 8) with Bet365 on Thorbjorn Olesen is a value outsider and 9/2 for a top 20 worth an interest - good luck!
ADVISED LAST WEEK
MARK WALLIS - 4 pts win 11/2 - Gain GTA Trainers Championship - Sheffield - Saturday - lost
CHUBBYS CAVIAR - 2.5 pts each way ante post 10/1 - Bunny Gold Cup - Henlow - final Sunday
SHREWD HONCHO - 1 pt each way 20/1 - Bunny Gold Cup - Henlow - Sunday - lost