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Monday 4th January 2010



Last week brought an end to an unforgettable year (2009 Review on Guest Column) for Imperial Kennels and we begin a new one with expectations and standards as high as ever. This also applies to our industry who should, and has to, unite to get through some difficult times. Maurice Watkins at the helm needs to deliver to see greyhound racing not only survive but prosper in the next decade.

With the weather still playing havoc on the racing schedule we completed the year with the semi-finals of the Henlow Gold Cup last Monday. With Eye Onthe Tempo eliminated it was left to Eye Onthe Pulse to give us a finalist when second to Bridge Brave. The final itself was cancelled on Friday due to the freeze and with some runners including Eye Onthe Pulse engaged in the Coronation Cup starting tonight at Romford quite when the £2,500 to the winner event will be run is anybody's guess. Our last meeting of the year was at Harlow whose track has stood up well to the arctic conditions. Goldies Tara was our last graded winner ending a long losing run when skating up by 4 lengths in 26.72 (-20) while our last open wins of 2009 came in the shape of Risky Fabio who took heat 1 of the Monkey Standard heats by 3 1/4 lengths in 26.40 (-20) and fittingly our grand old servant Bell Tornado who beat kennelmate Risky Invader by over 5 lengths in a flying 25.89 (-20). This meant that Bell Tornado was our winning most greyhound of 2009 with 19 wins (13 opens) and has now won 35 of his 77 race career to date, a superb effort!.

The first runners of 2010 were at Romford on Friday and despite coming away empty handed with our five runners I was happy enough with the performances of Gan On Parker (3rd), Risky Wand (3rd), Kinda Handy (4th) and Directors Fire (3rd) and all should greatly contribute to our challenge for the defence of our Trainers Championship title for which we have been installed a 4/6 favourite by Blue Square. Our first graded runners did well on Saturday at Harlow with three winners from six runners. Dick and Anne Barfoot's duo of Adegeo (26.27) and Kilquane Jack (38.04) were impressive while Genesis Fuzzums continues to win his fair share of races.

Next week we have a busy schedule starting tonight at Romford with the first competition of the year, the heats of the Cornation Cup. Goldies Destiny, Eye Onthe Tempo and Eye Onthe Pulse will bid to get the season off to a flyer. On Tuesday with a lot of our open runners short of a run we will have trial sessions at both Romford and Monmore where Jogadusc Ace and promising pups Directors Spur, Aero Bolt and Raging Hawk will be put through their paces. A trip to Swindon on Wednesday weather permitting sees our leading Arc runners Eye Eye Pickle and Directors Ruler in Trial Stakes while Dalcash Scolari and Eye Onthe Flash will trial before racing. On the same night at Harlow Bell Tornado, Risky Fabio and Risky Invader give us half the field in a Monkey Standard final and we may pencil in opens on Thursday and Friday.

All roads lead to Roxwell on Saturday where our kennel celebration party promises to be a night to remember. Staff, owners and our guests will be treated to top class food from host Peter Sanderson and his staff with a special dvd of the year's highlights produced by 'The Dogs' Clive Lawrence being shown as well as some late night entertainment. The website kennel awards will be announced which include our 5 to Follow competition winner Paul Hicks (Cool Hand Luke) and the Staff's 5 to follow winner, my better half Sarah! Talking of awards it was great to see so many of our stars from 2009 in the nominations for the industry awards on 31st January at London's Hilton Metropole and it will truly cap off a stunning year if we were lucky enough to win some of the categories including Eye Onthe Storm who has a fair chance of being Greyhound Of The Year.

Well done to all who took part in Pete's Christmas Quiz - as predicted, the pictures of the (now closed) greyhound tracks caught most people out. The answers can be seen by clicking here and the results are as follows:

1st John Keefe 31 points
2nd Andy Pelley 29 points
3rd) Andy Slater 27 points
3rd) Anne Cole 27 points

I was going to put up a list of my Ten to Follow from the kennel for 2010 but I think it would be unfair to have to leave some of our kennel strength out. As we all know it's a team effort at Imperial Kennels and not about individuals and we will continue to offer our loyal owners the best service we can possibly give. Here though are some of my hopes and predictions for the year ahead:-

1 - Walthamstow re-opens giving greyhound racing a massive boost with top class racing and facilities!

2 - Harlow eventually go ahead with plans to make the track a galloping 470-480m making them the most improved track of recent years.

3 - GOBATA go from strength to strength with every possible owner, trainer, breeder and all kennel staff joining the association that will give an effective voice to all who work with the core product of our industry.

4 - The GBGB realise that they need to talk and listen to all the people at the heart of our industry.

5 - Imperial Kennels can get close or better 2009's achievements.

6 - The proposed new TV channel for greyhound racing is a huge success with all bookmakers, tracks, owners and trainers benefitting from the increased revenue it should bring.

7 - An idea of a premier league shown through this channel also makes for excellent viewing and added revenue for the sport's leading open race trainers most of whom do not have contracts at Bags tracks.

8 - With the larger bookmakers making in excess of £100 million from Bags racing they can see their way to putting more than £10 million back into the sport through the levy.

9 - Patrick stops taking my money off me when laying him horses!

10 - I continue to take Patrick's money on all football bets!

11 - Sid finds a girlfriend who can eat and drink as much as him!

12 - Patrick and Cheryl tie the knot!

13 - Charlie Lister stops being so competitive and lets somebody else win the East Anglian Derby!

14 - That I can win the staff 5 to follow competition so Sarah can stop taking the mickey! oh and our Derby tipping comp to stop Patrick taking the ****.

15 - All our runners during 2010 come back safe and sound from their racing.

All that leaves me to do is wish all our readers, owners and staff a very Happy New Year for 2010!