This week's newsletter:
I hope everyone enjoyed reading our Website Review of 2020 which is now up on our Guest Column, it takes quite a bit of time to compile but is certainly worth the effort. Of course it was a year where we had to write about things outside of the sport but I have come to the sound conclusion that we give so much pleasure to everyone involved in watching or owning greyhounds which can, without doubt, see us through these tough times.
The industry drew a sigh of relief as the pandemic worsened but elite sport including greyhound racing was allowed to continue and on Friday we opened our open race season with a cracking card at Romford featuring the heats of the Essex Vase. We had already had a few graded meetings at Henlow and Towcester and it seemed the kennel was in good form with plenty of winners at both tracks. If there was a better class competition than this 575m renewal then I haven’t seen it, a multitude of competition winners, in form dogs and high class ones stepping up in trip for the first time made the heats compulsive viewing. In the first heat we had three runners and it was Antigua Boy who showed great pace up to lead with Drumcrow Brent, running the track much better than he did in his trial, in hot pursuit with favourite Desperado Dan in behind. In a tight finish Drumcrow Brent got up to beat Antigua Boy by a head in 35.39 to be our first open race winner of 2021 and for a few seconds we looked like we could get all three of our runners through as Sober Express tried his hardest to get past Desperado Dan for that third qualifying spot but was just thwarted by a head however it was a good start. In heat 2 Ivy Hill Skyhigh made a hash of the start and in the end did well to finish 3rd and book his place through to the next round but the enigma Alien Sea ran poor to be eliminated. Heat 3 was another great contest and all our eyes were on our Coronation Cup winner Antigua Rum having his first run since July and he faced ante post favourite Newinn Liz and as they approached the first turn he looked in a touch of trouble but the race complexion changed dramatically as the inside runners collided, Antigua Rum needed no second invite and scorched to the front and galloped away to win by over 5 lengths in an excellent 35.23. Tiffield Maximus went out in heat 4 as Smallmead flew round in a fastest of the night 34.84 but in heat 5 that was nearly matched as a catapult break from Aayamza Lexie saw her go clear from good rivals like Sparta Master and Droopys Aoife while Hopes Doggy didn’t get any sort of run from an awkward trap 5 and also went out the event.
Meanwhile up front Aayamza Lexie wasn’t stopping and won well by nearly 6 lengths in a flying 34.93. The last heat could have given us a magical four winners as Antigua Romeo was odds on to win but he just couldn’t get past early pace setter Seaglass Tiger and when he did in a tight finish he himself was caught on the line by a fast finishing Droopys Mansion going down 1/2 length in 35.40.
We had another nice winner on the card with Anhid News taking a maiden 575m (35.77) and we waited for the draw to be made at the end of the meeting. Maybe it’s a new dawn as we at last had some luck in that department with our runners being equally distributed with two in each semi final. Of course that’s because the draw was done in the racing office and not at the GBGB on Monday as that would have resulted in us having four, five or even all six in the same semi final!!!. Now I’m not going to talk about the races as to me all 18 qualifiers are class and we could easily have no finalists or six though the latter is highly unlikely.
I sent in an email whilst watching the show as I thought both guests were very negative about the sport. Now firstly I have the greatest respect for both Paul Lawrence and his partner Lorraine Sams. Paul is a dog man through and through, a great gambler and one of the best commentators of his generation and Lorraine has been involved in all aspects of our sport from being a top class trainer to an excellent steward for the GBGB and is a shining light on all aspects of welfare but with the current pandemic most people tune in to RPGTV not just to watch the racing but also to be cheered up with banter from the presenters and a sense of excitement with the forthcoming races and this cracking card at Romford should have done this. They might as well just have come on and said ‘ tonight we are going to announce that we have lost interest in greyhound racing and will be getting rid of our dogs we own and the industry is a load of crap! ‘ I could see in the studio Dave Clarke squirming in his seat whilst presenter Julie Collier did her best to highlight the positives. RPGTV needs on these great nights of racing to make the show more positive and let the night be about the dogs themselves, the owners and the trainers (and not just the so called big ones like myself, Patrick etc). Yes it’s a programme that has to be about the betting for the shows sponsors as it has to get punters to punt but it also has to make greyhound racing exciting for the casual viewers. Anyone tuning in for the first time on Friday would have reached for the remote control within a few seconds. Lastly Paul and Lorraine did have some valid points and as I say I don’t want to criticise them for voicing how they feel but maybe their views would have been best saved for another night, when the top class opens are on such as Friday this is when the show should go to town making it exciting and vibrant.
Our next big competition after the Essex Vase is the Blue Riband over 500m at Towcester and the heats are a week Saturday. We have a trial session on Sunday where we have quite a few potential entries having a spin including Antigua Bruiser, Hopes Bullet, Hopes Doggy, Black Eyed Molly, Agincourt Xena, Coolavanny Kyser, Antigua Jet, Sober Express and Aero Madrid whilst we also have our marathon star Aayamza Royale returning for a spin. The Golden Jacket and Peter Bussey competitions at Crayford are also on the horizon and we have trials booked at Crayford next Tuesday for the likes of Antigua Fire and Bo Shine Bullet though we do not intend to enter Aayamza Royale despite her being in the early betting for the Golden Jacket, we would rather she was kept for true marathons though they seem to be thin on the ground over the next few weeks.
I think I covered everything above on our first open race action of the year at Romford on Friday.
HENLOW & TOWCESTER REVIEW
Going back to January 2nd we had three nice winners at Henlow with Formel Jet returning to the winner's podium with a fast 27.94 win in an A6. Glassmoss Queen also in an A6 eclipsed that winning well in 27.78 and pup Lost Without You opened her account taking an A11 in 28.53.
On Sunday at Towcester we had a nice winner as Pennys Plumber took an A3 in 29.97 and our good form continued on Monday with five winners at Henlow. Ice Cool Ellis flew round in a career best 28.18 in an A8, Chubby Jenny took an A10 in 28.64, Civils Jasmine opened her account in an A7 in 28.35, a rare win for Bobs Boy as he won an A9 in a good 28.27 and Ripley Guru completed a good day taking an A7 in 28.45.
A rare blank on Tuesday evening despite a couple of good performances and on Thursday from a handful of runners pup Sweet Pear took off to take an A6 in a fast 27.70 winning by nearly 5 lengths.
On Saturday we were treated to a 20/1 winner as Domino Charm beat kennelmate Run Free Snowy on merit in an A4 in a fine 28.13 while Onyx Penny just failed to hang on in an A6 by a neck in a decent 28.24. No luck with our three runners at Towcester on Sunday.
PERFORMANCE OF THE WEEK
OPEN RACING - AAYAMZA LEXIE
WHAT’S ON NEXT WEEK
We have plenty of graded action at Henlow but our main focus of the week is the semi finals of the Essex Vase at Romford on Friday night where we see six of our stars trying to make the first major final of 2021.
WEBSITE RECOMMENDED BETS
In 2020 we showed a small profit with our recommendations with competition winners Antigua Rum, Agincourt Xena (16/1) and of course Aayamza Royale mainly helping with that, at least it wasn’t a losing one but remembering we do only put these up for a bit of fun and moderate stakes. Still it’s nice to pick winners and as we concentrated on our yearly review last week we missed out on an ante post selection or two for the Essex Vase. We have six through to the semi finals and it’s really difficult to pick one over another but if I had to find something then I thought Drumcrow Brent was still value at 20/1 and Antigua Rum at 12/1, both have decent draws and just one through will give us an interest, unfortunately at this stage the each way is just for 1-2-3.
ANTIGUA RUM - 2 pts each way ante post 12/1 - Coral Essex Vase - Romford - semi finals Friday
DRUMCROW BRENT - 1.5 pts each way ante post 20/1 - Coral Essex Vase - Romford - semi finals Friday