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Antigua Boy rescued what was a largely disappointing weekend when he qualified for the Greyhound Derby quarter finals with a bold run in the second round on Saturday at Nottingham. Using his rails draw to full use he turned second to the Irish speedster Coolavanny Chick and showed a real turn of middle pace to join his rival at the third turn but Coolavanny Chick drove the bend hard and despite a renewed effort from our fella she held firm to score by just under 2 lengths in a fast 29.52. It was a great effort from Antigua Boy and it gives us hope that our Derby dream can last a bit further. His draw in trap 3 on Saturday is a bit more hazardous and he faces a rematch with Coolavanny Chick but she has her fellow Irish Derby hotpot Wolfe on her immediate inside, a good break from Boy and we could well be sitting with a Derby semi finalist a week Saturday. Sadly Sober Express had his dreams grind to a halt as he was carted off wide at the first bend and had no chance of recovering to grab a qualifying place, his time will come as he develops into a decent stayer.
The Derby plate starts on Saturday which runs alongside the Greyhound Derby quarter finals and we look forward to seeing some of our future stars Hopes Doggy and Hopes Bullet back in action as well as my outright Derby fancy Antigua Romeo who just missed out from qualifying in the first round. No doubt the plate is very competitive and will take some winning!
We had high hopes of getting to the finals of the Gold Collar and Kent St Leger at Crayford on Saturday but it didn’t quite happen. In the Kent St Leger semi finals we were hoping Avastorm would have a good chance from trap 2 but perhaps wasn’t expecting the normally slow away Beechwood Belle to trap well and pace up on her inside, this stopped ours getting a run and she ran well but finished 3rd. Glassmoss Sis was behind in her semi final but with the field all bunching at the last two bends for a second she looked as if she could burst through and qualify but she in turn found trouble and couldn’t get in the mix. In the Gold Collar semi finals impressive heat scorers Aayamza Lexie and ante post favourite Smallmead looked set for a battle but both missed the break and found trouble at the first bend effectively ending their chances of qualifying. Our outsider Towstar Zelda found a pitch but just failed to get up for that vital second place, altogether a fairly disappointing night.
We were also hoping for a decent night at Henlow on Sunday with the feature race the Henlow Maiden Derby final. I wasn’t thrilled with the draw in trap 5 for Hardy Rebel and so it proved as he tried to cut right in at the bend and found his path blocked also giving favourite and eventual winner Roxholme Olaf a peach run on the outside. We finished last but there was a lot to like about Hardy Rebel’s recent improvement and he certainly looks a dog on the upgrade. In the supporting races we didn’t have much luck or success either with plenty of chances but no winners.
After recently closing the gap at the top of the Trainer of the Year standings we slipped down a bit last week to be 69 points behind Patrick Janssens and with Patrick looking highly likely to land the Gold Collar on Saturday with three finalists, indeed he could easily have the first three home, we could well be back to over 100 points behind and with only around 8 Category 1 events left in the calendar we will need a huge last couple of months to retain our title. Of course there are way more important things in life to think about these days but we have to focus on trying to win a big competition or two before the end of the season which in turn could help with the Trainer of the Year standings.
We are all in fear of a second wave of the Covid pandemic which seems to be happening now and it’s a real worry if we go into a full lockdown again and sports including greyhound racing are forced to suspend again. I’m not sure the help businesses had before would be in place again and everyone in the industry will be praying it doesn’t come to this. The prize money and especially the trainer bonuses for supplying runners to Henlow and Towcester are essential to keep our business going and I’m not sure owners can afford to have their dogs sitting on the sidelines again for a long period. Long term we look a mile away from returning to normal and I’m already hearing promoters are looking at big cut backs to survive.
It was sad hearing today that Romford’s commentator Steve Woodward has called his last race at Romford as he moves on to pastures new. Romford won’t seem the same without his brilliant commentaries and in depth knowledge of the dogs and trainers. I’ve lost count on the amount of commentaries of big winners he has called from our kennel over the years but he always made them and the owners feel special. We all wish him the very best of luck for the future.
Gone seem the days when we had any open racing to report from Monday-Thursday and our week always seems to begin on Fridays at Romford these days. Last Friday we came back with two winners as Tiffield Blueboy
, who at last is getting some decent draws, won a warm 400m railing well at the first bend to win well in 23.86 while Ivy Hill Skyhigh got his first six bend win under his belt when winning his heat of the Friday Night 500 Maiden Stayers holding off the challenge of Lenson Austin to win by a head in a good 35.11.
As said a great run from Antigua Boy in the second round of the Derby but the rest of the weekend at Crayford and Henlow was not the best we had results wise.
HENLOW & TOWCESTER REVIEW
On Monday our only winner at Henlow was Furious Falcon took who an S2 in 34.27 and on Tuesday Innfield Kaci won on debut in an A6 in a good 28.21 showing plenty of early pace. Our only other runners were on Thursday where Ripley Guru came closest when second.
On Sunday at Towcester we started off with two winners with Milestone Gem winning an A3 in a good 29.63 and Towstar Izzy taking an A6 in 30.26 while both Starshinebandit and Drumcrow Brent ran well when second.
PERFORMANCE OF THE WEEK
OPEN RACING - TIFFIELD BLUEBOY
GRADED - MILESTONE GEM
WHAT’S ON NEXT WEEK
Our week starts again on Friday at Romford where Ivy Hill Skyhigh is in the Friday Night 500 Maiden final.
We go back to Crayford on Saturday for supporting opens but all eyes will be on Nottingham as we reach the Quarter Final stage and Antigua Boy bids for glory while we have three runners in the Derby Plate.
We will look to be at Central Park the next few Sundays and have some runners there this week.
WEBSITE RECOMMENDED BETS
Though she ran well I was disappointed that Avastorm didn’t make the Kent St Leger final when only 3rd in her semi final but we do still have Antigua Boy involved in the Greyhound Derby and I see no reason why that can’t continue with the quarter finals this Saturday. We have three runners in the Derby Plate and I think all three are capable of landing the event and all are priced attractively but it’s Hopes Bullet that takes my eye and worth an interest at 16/1
HOPES BULLET - 2 pts each way ante post 25/1 - Derby Plate - Nottingham - starts Saturday
ADVISED LAST WEEK
AVASTORM - 2 pts each way ante post 8/1 - Kent St Leger - Crayford - lost
ANTIGUA BOY - 1 pt each way ante post 125/1 - Greyhound Derby - Nottingham - quarter finals Saturday