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No complaints on Saturday morning with all our three Ladbrokes Golden Jacket finalists when they finished second, third and fourth respectively to Patrick Janssen’s Skilful Sandie as we were beaten fair and square on the day. On a blustery but fine day at Crayford we started the morning well as Glassmoss Sis won a 874m Marathon in good style and Towstar Zelda was collared right on the line in a Ladies 540m and our next runners were the Golden Jacket finalists. It was a top class line up and our two bitches, Avastorm in trap 2 and Aayamza Express in trap 3 had to come away to hold any chance while our 5/4 favourite Antigua Fire looked set for a big run. A large crowd was present for the first big stayers race of the year and as the traps opened Aayamza Express broke best but was just beaten to the bend by Skilful Sandie with Antigua Fire brushing Hayley Keightley’s Roxholme Poppy at the start but easily clearing her to the bend to turn third with Avastorm and Sheldan both slow away in behind. At this point Aayamza Express just moved off a fraction forcing Antigua Fire a bit wide losing him a length or so but more importantly allowing Skilful Sandie to gain a nice lead of 2 to 3 lengths. For a circuit and a half Aayamza Express gave a great chase closing to within a length but her chance had really gone when she never led. It was left to Antigua Fire to chase after Skilful Sandie but in truth he never really looked like getting to the eventual winner, he tried hard but that vital length or so he lost at the start and first bend was crucial to his chances and he went down by a length and half at the finish and had to settle for the runner up spot for the second year running. Aayamza Express ran her heart out to hold on to third with Avastorm running on for fourth. The winning time was an excellent 44.87 on a track that could have been given a touch slower than normal though it was in excellent condition on the day, both Antigua Fire and especially Aayamza Express ran their fastest times of the competition so though we were disappointed not to have won the event you couldn’t have asked any more. Well done to Patrick and his team and the connections of Skilful Sandie for a brilliant victory and to Crayford who made the day and the competition so good.
Towstar Billy got our weekend off to a good start when causing a bit of an upset taking the Friday Night 500 Standard final at Romford, showing great early pace again he forced his way to the front and never relinquished the lead winning in 23.97 and on Saturday night the disappointment of not winning the Golden Jacket was somewhat forgotten as we had four winners from six runners at Sheffield including an exciting last to first run from Aayamza Royale
in a decent race over 660m and is certainly the talk of greyhound racing at the moment following her similar run at Romford the week before.
Antigua Breeze warmed up for this week's RPGTV Juvenile at Sheffield with a good effort in a puppy sprint when just denied by 1/2 length to an excellent young sprinter Inca Coney. Of course with the likes of Greyhound of the Year Ice On Fire in the Juvenile he will have to produce a career best effort to win and crucially he needs to lead up to have any chance over 500m but we are sure he will give a good account of himself.
The Coral Golden Sprint kicks off this week at Romford and we will have a few entries including Towstar Billy. Most of ours will have to step up a level or two to beat the top ones judging by last week's trial stakes but hopefully they will. The 400m Maiden final features our little 24 kilo bitch Playbook who stepped up last week winning her heat in a lovely 23.83 and if she traps like she did there she will take some beating, certainly one to follow.
I was sad to hear of the death of legendary trainer Ernie Gaskin snr on Monday. Ernie was one of the first trainers I met and got to know when I got involved in the sport in the mid eighties and myself and my dad watched many of his great stars at the time race all over the country. Curryhills Gara, Farncombe Black and Waltham Abbey were fantastic stars that I remember fondly and he had many more great greyhounds before and after those ones. Both myself and Linda competed against him in the Trainers Championship meetings in the early 2000’s and he was a fellow trainer with us when we were contracted at Walthamstow and whenever he spoke people listened. What I remember most was when me and my dad used to go to Rye House in the mid eighties on Wednesdays and Saturdays we had a graded dog with ‘Dukey’ Elliot but were looking for a better class one and as ‘Dukey’ was very good friends and neighbours with Ernie we asked him to find us one with a budget of around £3,000 - £4,000 (quite a lot back then). Ernie said that the following week two dogs were coming over to him and as ‘Dukey’ was a good friend we could buy one of those. On presentation there was one black dog (£5,000) and one lovely looking white and brindle dog (£3,000), we could stretch to the more expensive one but really liked the other one so bought him. His name was Another Mixture and he won opens all around the country including the last Ipswich Derby, we had so much fun with him and were always grateful to Ernie for letting us buy him. He then sired a litter which threw the brilliant sprinter Lonely Mixture which won Linda her first major prize as a trainer at Bristol and would be fondly remembered by Linda as one of her all time favourite dogs. Incidentally the black dog we never bought was a fair sort, Lisadell Tiger !!! Scurry winner and prolific open racer, you certainly couldn’t fault Ernie on his honesty and decency for that and as a kennelhand and a trainer myself he was one of my inspirations. Ernie Gaskin Jnr has had a superb career (especially lately) himself and his father would have been proud of him. Patrick Kelly’s lovely tribute to Ernie in today’s Racing Post is well worth a read and for me to read that Patrick thinks that I rank alongside the likes of Ernie, Leslie Reynolds, Jack Harvey, George Curtis, Geoff De Moulder, John Coleman, Nick Savva, Linda Mullins, John McGee and Charlie Lister makes me feel proud as well.
A busy weekend as mentioned above, only two winners at Romford on Friday, Playbook and Towstar Billy in the Friday Night 500 Standard final with a few good performances overall. No complaints on Saturday morning at Crayford though obviously disappointed that we didn’t come away with the Golden Jacket but we were pleased with our runners on the day and a nice win from Glassmoss Sis in the 874m race.
On Saturday night we had a successful raid to Sheffield with four winners from six runners. The prolific Coolavanny Messi won comfortably in 28.88 and in form Silva Hill took a sprint in 16.06, there was so much to like about Aayamza Royale’s performance in the 660m coming from last to first again in a decent race and clocking a good 39.36 while another in form star Antigua Romeo clocked a fastest of the year 28.64 en route to winning a very good 500m race by 3 1/4 lengths.
No winners on Monday with Bobs Duke and Adageo Zoomer both 3rd coming closest and on Tuesday evening we had plenty of good runs but Muxton Teddy was our only winner in an A3 in 28.04.
On Thursday Ballyfinn Jade finally ended a long losing run taking an A7 beating kennel mate Sligo Lily by a short head in 28.44 and there was a fine debut win by Yukan Bridge in an A4 in 28.00.
No winners on Friday but an excellent day on Saturday where we had five winners from seven runners. Domino Ninja won an A10 in 28.81, Adageo Zoomer won well in an A8 in 28.32, Ripley Guru took an A9 in 28.61 and the improving Energize Bingo won an A6 in 28.31. Jaxx Purple completed a great afternoon winning an A5 in 27.91.
PERFORMANCE OF THE WEEK
OPEN RACING - AAYAMZA ROYALE
GRADED - ENERGIZE BINGO
WHAT’S ON NEXT WEEK
Plenty of runners at Romford on Friday with the Golden Sprint heats getting underway. On Saturday the Racing Post Juvenile is the main race of the weekend and Antigua Breeze will bid to make all and we should have some runners at Monmore in their twice monthly festival races.
WEBSITE RECOMMENDED BETS
A small pick up for all three of our Ladbrokes Golden Jacket finalists keeps the recommended bets in a good profit for the year.
The Coral Golden Sprint starts on Friday and though we don’t have an obvious winner I’m hoping we can get one at least to the final, my idea of an each way play is Tiffield Blueboy who is well drawn in his heat Friday.
Over the years the RPGTV Juvenile has sprung some major surprises and we will be looking to do the same with Antigua Breeze as he faces Greyhound of the Year Ice On Fire amongst others. Priced around 6/1 he may we’ll go off bigger and I would risk a £1 or 2 on him.
TIFFIELD BLUEBOY - 1.5 pts ew ante post - Coral Golden Sprint - Romford - starts Friday
ANTIGUA BREEZE - 2 pts win - RPGTV Juvenile - Sheffield- Saturday
ADVISED LAST WEEK
ANTIGUA FIRE - 2.5 pts ew ante post 7/1 - Ladbrokes Golden Jacket - Crayford - 2ND (2 pts profit)
AVASTORM - 1 pt ew ante post 16/1 - Ladbrokes Golden Jacket - Crayford - 4TH (3 pt profit)
AAYAMZA EXPRESS - 2 pts ew ante post 16/1 - Ladbrokes Golden Jacket - Crayford- 3RD (6 pts profit)