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Monday 27th February 2012



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A fantastic week of greyhound action has seen us with many highlights and certainly a lot to look forward to in the coming week. Off the track, and mostly to do with RPGTV, has also given us plenty to talk about as well.

Firstly on the track the week started with the heats of the Category 1 Ladbrokes Arc at Swindon. Kinda True ran well but was run out of a place in the next round when 4th in his heat but Jazz Apollo having his first race of 2012 came good when winning his heat comfortably by over 3 lengths in a calculated 28.56. On Friday in the second round life was much tougher for Jazz Apollo with a tricky draw in trap 3 and though still made favourite for his heat he found plenty of trouble at the first bend before extracting himself from the melee and running on well to secure second place behind Chris Allsopp's Sids Dream. Considering Sids Dream broke the track record in 28.20 it turned out to be a great effort for Jazz Apollo and I still feel we are in with a big shout of landing the event for the fourth time following victories in the past for Vancouver Jet and Centaur Decree when held at Walthamstow and recently Corrig Vieri when switched to Swindon. He still has a tough draw again in trap 3 for Friday's semi-final but if he gets any kind of run he will be hard to keep out of the first three.

Royal Premium has been an enigmatic performer to say the least and his disqualification on the flat last year at Sittingbourne has forced him to go the hurdle route. Brilliantly schooled by Rick Holloway for us he has had limited opportunities going into the Springbok heats but after narrowly qualifying from a tough first round heat he was produced in tip top condition for Friday's semi-final at Wimbledon and a magnificent display of jumping and speed saw him only go down by a head to ante-post favourite Westmead Melanie in a fast 29.41. This semi was much quicker than the other two and we can go into Tuesday's final live on Sky with a great deal of hope especially now drawn in trap 4 which looks ideal. 'Ted' has been leased out to the Risky Syndicate of which owner Daren Johnson is a member and it will be great for all the syndicate to land quite a touch if he is successful with a few of them holding 50/1 ante-post vouchers!

GOBATA's inaugural Betdaq Premier League has been a huge success and last Friday's Grand Finals night at Doncaster was a pleasure to be involved in. With our team 'Imperial Rock It's' holding a slender lead going into the final leg of course I would have loved to have won the whole event but looking at the make up of races and our patched up team it was always going to be difficult. Due to the abandonment of the third leg because of the frozen track the points carried forward made every finishing position most important and also with two jokers being played scoring a maximum of 18 points these became vital in the outcome. Lil RiskyThe 'Dunham Devils' led by Jane Houfton and Mick Livesey had put out a strong team and the writing was on the wall when their Kelly Findlay landed the opening leg with a powerful performance by Coolavanny Pedro in the puppy race. With Aero Bellagio only 5th we had already lost our lead. In the second leg a back to form Lil Risky gave us some renewed hope when showing great pace to land the sprint in a fine 16.86 especially when he was our first joker being played, P.ul Sallis helped out our team for the first time in the event and his Monhagan Jack was pitched into a tough Division B of the standard. Just failing to make the bend in front he was shuffled to the back where he stayed. We now had a mountain to climb to land the event and our last chance was in a superb quality six bend race with lively outsider Ballintine Molly who was our second and final Joker to be played. When she led round the first two bends for a moment I thought 'here we go' but looking a bit lost around the galloping track she was bundled out of contention along with our hopes. The last and final leg left three teams, but sadly not ours, with varying degrees of chances of landing the Premier League title but betting in running would have had the 'Dunham Devils' a 1/6 chance. So it was to be when Kelly Findlay, having a great night, scored with hot favourite Local Dee Jay and the celebrations of the 'Dunham Devils' began. Our 'Imperial Rock It's' eventually finished 4th and thankfully Lil Risky's win had virtually guaranteed that we couldn't be relegated.

I have to say no one had captured and embraced the event more than the 'Devils' Dave and Jane Houfton with the help of the energetic Mick Livesey. The banter and team element from all the trainers, kennelhands and owners involved during the whole of the Premier League and Championship has been fantastic and I again applaud Martin White, Chris Page and the rest of the GOBATA team for their tremendous input and enthusiasm. The Premier League will now step aside in March as trainers prepare for the Betfair Trainers Championship meeting at Perry Barr but in this time GOBATA will be talking to all parts of our industry who would be interested in supporting the next Premier League. Chief sponsors Betdaq have already said they would love to be involved again but in reality significantly more funding will be needed to carry on with the new and exiting concept. Many trainers who were either knocked out in the qualifiers or not involved originally have expressed a desire to be a part of the next Premier League which has led the way over the last few months in the general resurgence in our sport. The feeling amongst trainers that the Premier League brings a real strength and unity for them is a real tonic and I again urge all trainers across the country to get involved when we sit down and find ways to improve and embrace future events.

Fantastic news both for the sport and GOBATA is that Towcester racecourse have had their planning application approved to build a state of the art Greyhound track situated just the other side of the horse track. This will be similar to Dundalk in Ireland which is very successful. I can't tell you how delighted we all are at GOBATA for this venture, after two years hard work, to have now been given the green light and though no stone will left unturned in producing the best quality track in Europe we could be up and running before the end of the summer. We will be having many meetings to make sure everything suits greyhounds from a welfare point of view and how to accommodate as many trainers as possible who would like to be a part of Towcester's plans. This will really be a big shot in the arm for many owners as well with prize money levels expected to be higher than any other track and over the next few weeks I will be giving full coverage to Towcester and GOBATA' s plans as they go on so watch this space!

Just to complete a manic and incredibly busy Friday, one which saw myself being up at 6 am and not arriving home until 4.30 am on Saturday morning! we also had 8 runners at Romford including the much talked about Blonde Snapper and Mountjoy Osprey, who was bidding for an incredible 10 on the bounce over track and trip.Mountjoy Osprey These two had mixed fortunes as Blonde Snapper made no mistake when landing the Coral On TV Standard final in good style. Coming on for his first race of the year in Monday's heats where he narrowly held on to win by the shortest margin he smashed out of the traps to lead comfortably at the first bend and this time there was no way back for his rivals as he strode out to score by 2 3/4 lengths in a good 23.91. Mountjoy Osprey, again taking on much older dogs (a bit annoying as he was originally entered in a puppy race that filled) in his bid to complete ten on the spin but an unusually slow exit meant even though he showed his usual terrific pace up when he arrived at the first bend he had company around him and Nans Turbo in trap 1 wouldn't budge as Osprey tried to round him forcing him to check up. Again hampered down the back straight his chance had gone with Nans Turbo gone beyond recall and although Mountjoy Osprey battled to finish second it was a blow to lose that winning sequence. The night was still very good as we produced three other winners when Clarecastle Dub, Out In Chil and Aero Joker made it four winners on the night with Aero Joker also racking up a 5 timer herself.

Benkaat Blue

On Saturday at Monmore a great week was completed when we put a few pups on in preparation for next Thursday's Puppy Derby and Castlebride Dan coming back from an injury which had kept him out of action for three months produced an excellent performance when winning in 28.60and is sure to come on again for the run. Confident Ramona (2nd), Swift Reagan (2nd) and Mountjoy Eagle (4th) all ran well but the race of the night was undoubtedly the top division which saw Benkaat Blue pitched in with the highly rated Tullig Joy trained by my Premier League team mate Paul Sallis. Crowding on the run up saw a bit of a messy race but Benkaat Blue turned in a handy position with Tullig Joy completely put out of the race. Showing scorching middle pace Benkaat Blue surged to the front and won going away by over 5 lengths in a good 28.27.

The two Monmore winners meant we had eight open winners on the week and with Blonde Snappers final win at Romford we have leapt above Kelly Findlay in the Trainers Championship standings and it has been a great start to the year for the kennel with a good chance in the week ahead to increase our advantage. Yes of course the financial incentive is a joke for the Trainer Of The Year title but it will be something we will strive to win for a fourth time given a chance.

On Thursday I had the pleasure of appearing on the new RPGTV which covered meetings at Hove and Henlow with Darrell Williams and Jonathan Kay. I must say I was a tad nervous about being on the show lasting for 3 1/2 hours and most certainly didn't expect the grilling I got from Darrell but overall I enjoyed the night despite only tipping 4 or 5 winners (a lot more than the two experts who had a mare!) but at least my nap won! Sadly we didn't have any winners from our six runners at Henlow but it was great to be the first trainer to be put on the sofa. Well what can we say about Saturday's show where Rick Holloway took the seat with Darrell and Jonathan Hobbs compering the 'Ricky' show. Wow, talk about don't hold back as within an hour Rick had completely annihilated the GBGB, GRA, Wimbledon Stadium, Johnny Haynes and L & Q amongst others. I must admit that I wish I could have been stronger in some of the things I said about our sport and maybe would have been had Rick been on first and I wholeheartedly agree with some of Rick's views on our sport. I would love to be a fly on the wall today at the GBGB offices in Holborn when I'm sure Rick's condemnation of their whole set up will be discussed. Thankfully he stopped short of slagging off the sponsors of the show namely the bookmakers who would surely pull the plug on the show. Nonetheless it was great telly and love him or loathe him Rick could quickly become a cult figure if allowed on again, superb and well done Rick!





I've covered much of the week's racing above but just briefly wins on Monday in the Ladbrokes Arc first round for Jazz Apollo (28.07) at Swindon and at night for Blonde Snapper (24.07) in the heats of the Coral on TV Standard at Romford.

At Henlow on Thursday we were slightly out of luck with Bellers Bud (3rd) Droopys Hiss (3rd) and Aero Majestic (2nd) coming closest.

On an unbelievably busy Friday where we covered four meetings Jazz Apollo qualified for the semi's of the Arc when 2nd in the second round,. Royal Premium made it through to the final of the William Hill Springbok when a close 2nd at Wimbledon in the semi's and we had four winners at Romford with Clarecastle Dub landing a 400m Maiden in 24.29, Aero Joker was again faultless winning for the 5th time on the bounce in a 575m in a fine 35.53 and Out In Chil showed great pace after stumbling slightly out of the boxes to lead up and win a 400m Standard in 24.39 while Blonde Snapper landed the feature race the Coral on TV Standard in a good 23.91. The night was nearly even better as Mountjoy Osprey, Risky Rosaleen and Carden Twilight were all second.

The Betdaq Premier League didn't quite go to plan at Doncaster on Grand Finals night but we were rewarded with a winner when Lil Risky took the sprint race in 16.86.

Again amongst the winners at Monmore on Saturday when Castlebride Dan and Benkaat Blue landed a double for us in the Puppy Derby Trial Stakes to complete an excellent week for the kennel.





On Wednesday two good winners from our four runners with Questhousesavana taking an A2 in 28.10 (+30) and youngster Swift Tigress in only her second race winning an A3 in great style by over 6 lengths in a fine 28.04.

On Saturday Darian Marvel ran well when second in an A2 and both Corrig Vincent and Born Tobe Blue were third before a brilliant run from young bitch Blonde Kimber who won an A1 in only her second race ever in a very good 27.90. Both Blonde Kimber and Swift Tigress owned by Mark Currell look ones to keep an eye on in the coming months.












On Tuesday Royal Premium takes his place in the William Hill Springbok final at Wimbledon, a race we won in 2009 with Bomber Bailey. Lil Risky is in the sprint race on a great card covered live on Sky.

On Thursday the heats of the prestigious Ladbrokes Monmore Puppy Derby kick off and Benkaat Blue heads our entries.

On Friday Jazz Apollo bids to get in the Ladbrokes Arc final when he runs from trap 3 in the semi-finals at Swindon. We will be at Romford on Friday which has proved fruitful over the past few weeks.




Our fine run during February looks set to continue when tomorrow night Royal Premium takes his place in the William Hill Springbok final. Our supporters should be holding 33/1 vouchers and a place in the first four looks an odds on shot and actually winning seems no forlorn hope either. Jazz Apollo also looks to have a great chance of making the Ladbrokes Arc final at Swindon when he lines up in trap 3 in Friday's semi's.

Ante-post bets are our speciality and it would be rude not to have an interest in Thursday's Monmore Puppy Derby and I genuinely believe in Benkaat Blue we have a reasonable chance of landing the honours. Now well experienced and an April pup which will be a huge advantage over younger less experienced pups the son of Star Of Dromin is in fine form and is worth a decent wager. Castlebride Dan may have won at 12/1 in a trial stake but this pup has plenty of scope for improvement and could be worth a small interest.

BENKAAT BLUE - 2.5 pts e.w ante-post - Ladbrokes Monmore Puppy Derby - Monmore - starts Thursday

CASTLEBRIDE DAN - 1 pt e.w ante-post - Ladbrokes Monmore Puppy Derby - Monmore - starts Thursday



ROYAL PREMIUM - 1 pt e.w ante-post 33/1 - William Hill Springbok - Wimbledon - final Tuesday

JAZZ APOLLO - 2 pts e.w ante-post 14/1 - Ladbrokes Arc - Swindon - continues Friday