2nd November 2015
(Opens to a third party website)
This week the greyhound world did something that is rare in these troubled times and became united as the sad news came that leading owner Mitch Millward had lost his brave battle against cancer. He passed away after not recovering from a risky but potential life saving operation, a gamble he had no option but to take. I got to know Mitch very well over the last decade, firstly around 10 years ago as he introduced an owner to our kennel who supplied us with some fabulous dogs like Eye Onthe Veto and Eye Onthe Storm. Mitch owned a nice bitch that we trained called Millwards Summit who won a few opens and he loved going to Walthamstow and Romford. Like many he was gutted that the Stow closed and he started to base his dogs more at Romford with his good friend and trainer Paul Young. Mitch would always attend the big open race final nights and I bumped into him on the many occasions we were racing at Romford as well. We spoke often and I was pleased over the last few years he started to gain some real success with his own Millwards prefix. The devastating news that he had cancer came only less than a year ago and he handled it with great dignity. 2014 was a memorable year for him on the track with his first Category 1 winner Millwards Master in the Champion Stakes and the emerging talent of Millwards Teddy who won the Yorkshire St Leger. He came very close to winning the Owner Of The Year accolade at the GBGB awards last year. This year had been another fantastic year on the track for Mitch and it seemed like his dogs were running for him gaining some fabulous results including a Derby finalist with Millwards Davy, unfortunately this horrible illness was one race he tried to but couldn't win.
I won't profess to say I knew Mitch out of greyhound racing very well but he, like many, saw the sport as a way of life and not just a profession or a hobby and I certainly counted him as a friend in this world. He was courteous in victory and unbelievably gracious in defeat. Every time when we had a big race winner he would always come and congratulate me or my staff and if he wasn't present that night would text me to say well done. He told me how proud he felt when we won the Derby and said some very kind and private words to me that I still remember now, that was the mark of the man, always thinking of others. When he won the Champion Stakes last year I couldn't have been more pleased for him and when I went to congratulate him he was almost apologetic that he'd beaten our dog Reel Trickyone who was favourite. I told him don't be silly and enjoy your moment. That was so kind of Mitch and I'm sure if this tragedy hadn't struck there would have been many more Category 1 successes coming his way. On Tuesday morning when I heard the news of his passing away I won't lie I shed a tear or two, at 46 it's just not fair and my deepest condolences go out to his family, they and greyhound racing have lost one of the great characters in our sport.
The mood of many people whilst we have been racing the last few days at Towcester, Crayford and Wimbledon as been a sombre one with many owners, trainers and kennel hands all reflecting on the sad loss of Mitch Millward, you could sense the high regard in which he was held in. Like many we were gutted to see Mitch's kennel star Millwards Teddy break his hock at Wimbledon on Saturday as he was without doubt his best ever greyhound to grace our tracks and expertly handled by Dean Childs and maybe it was fate that his career ended on this sad week, thankfully his hock has been fixed and good stud career beckons.
In some tough William Hill St Leger second round heats on Saturday we managed to qualify three of our four contenders. Ribble Atom is running out of her skin and came from a long way off the pace and just failed to catch the classy Swansalona Diva going down by the shortest margin in 41.71. Jimmy Nailed On had a tough draw in trap 4 and didn't lead but plugged on gamely to hold on to 3rd place behind Fizzypop Buddy who scored in 41.84. Ferryforth Fran ran an excellent race to finish a close up 3rd behind the top class pair of Droopys Tamera and Roxholme Dream in 41.90. The draws are not so bad for this Friday's semi finals but at this stage it's a real battle and all about getting in that first three to make next week's £25,000 final.
At Peterborough on Friday the third leg of the Bags Championship continued and Towcester will be well pleased with the position they have got into. Two winners, a second and two thirds gave us an excellent points tally from what could have been a tricky leg. The most impressive winner on Friday, as was she at Yarmouth, was Saffrons Anna who took off in the bitches race to win comfortably in the fastest of the night 26.07. Owned by our Markwallisracingclub she has an envious record of 4 wins from 4 Bags Championship races (2 this year and 2 in 2014 for Yarmouth). She will not go to Nottingham for the next leg as the 500m is a bit too tough for her. Our other runner representing Towcester Oldfield Lynda missed her break in the sharp sprint and had to settle for 3rd place.
Talking of our Racing Club we are holding our annual social night at Towcester on Saturday and are in one of the executive boxes in the Empress Stand for the night. Our two runners Saffrons Anna and Saffrons Champ will be on the card and I'm looking forward to catching up with many members who are travelling from all over the country to be there,. This month starts our 4th year since we began the club and we are looking forward to our new puppy out of Hometown Honey to begin his career at Towcester later this month. We would welcome any new members, our club is simple to join, it's a £500 one off fee (to buy future purchases) and £30 per month (£1 per day) for equal membership into our three current greyhounds, great ownership at an affordable price! Feel free to drop in and say hello on the night as myself and our members will be delighted to talk to any potential new members.
Also at Wimbledon on Saturday night was the start of the RFS Puppy Derby and we had to wait until the last heat for our two runners who were in together. Roswell Iceman making his British debut showed a terrific turn of pace and looked to have stolen an unassailable lead but a strong finish from Millwards Mates had him digging deep but the latter just prevailed by a head in a good 28.71 and to be fair no one in the stadium begrudged this victory given the circumstances of the week. It was still a good run from the likeable Roswell Iceman and he looks a fine prospect. Famias Hope got no sort of run and was bumped back to last.
At Crayford the John Davidson and Colin Wilson Memorial race was a hot one and Swift Whirlwind lost nothing in defeat when second and returns next week for the start of the Gold Collar. Toosey Fern was 3rd in a trial stake and will improve over the next couple of weeks.
At Towcester a hot 480m race saw Domino Storm back in action and she may have just needed the run when second to an inspired Forest Gavin with Blue Moment back in 4th.
A few reasonable runs from our runners on Friday with Libertine Louis and Vanmaestro both second but an excellent effort from Airforce Duchess back in the grades as she demolished an A2 field in a fine 28.15.
On Saturday Ballymac Shirley followed up last weeks success taking a good A3 in 28.43 with the unlucky in running Vandiva a close up 3rd. Ribble Aon might be getting overshadowed by the performances of Ribble Atom but she herself is in excellent form and took a very hot S1 by a length in a fine 39.59 with Parkers Poison not to far away in 4th.
On Sunday we had plenty of pups on show but none was more impressive than Calco Swift who made it two wins from four starts when hacking up in an A6 in a fine 28.33, certainly a star of the future being only a May 14 whelp. Youngster Sligo Star on debut showed some fine early pace to win an A8 in a good 28.93, Ilewin Frimley scored one for the old boys taking a hot A3 in a nice 28.28 before our promising pup Swift Boyne finally got loose to win an eight dog B8 by 5 lengths recording a smart 28.63. Droopys Achieve nearly made a fine debut only going down by a half length in an A6 in 28.82.
PERFORMANCE OF THE WEEK
WHAT'S ON NEXT WEEK
On Friday all eyes will be on Wimbledon as the semi finals of both the William Hill St Leger and the RFS Puppy Derby take place and we have plenty of interest in both events. we will also be at Romford.
On Saturday the Ladbrokes Gold Collar gets under way at Crayford and there are opens advertised at Towcester.
WEBSITE RECOMMENDED BETS
We are sitting pretty with both our selections in the St Leger and Puppy Derby and hopefully on Friday we can get through to next weeks finals.
The Ladbrokes Gold Collar kicks off on Saturday at Crayford and I see no reason why
Swift Whirlwind and Toosey Fern couldn't go well.
SWIFT WHIRLWIND - 2 pts e.w ante post - Ladbrokes Gold Collar - Crayford - starts Saturday
TOOSEY FERN - 1 pt e.w ante post - Ladbrokes a Gold Collar - Crayford - starts Saturday
ADVISED LAST WEEK
RIBBLE ATOM - 2 pts e.w ante post 33/1 - William Hill St Leger - Wimbledon - semi finals Friday
ROSWELL ICEMAN - 1 pt e.w ante post 16/1 - RFS Puppy Derby - Wimbledon - semi finals Friday