(Opens to a third party website)
I'm sure everybody by now has heard what a truly brilliant night for the sport the Star Sports Greyhound Derby extravaganza was on Saturday at Towcester. To add to the already glowing reports will be just repeating what has already been said but I have to comment. To start with the whole competition has been a huge success from the first round where straight away there was a real buzz amongst owners, trainers and the media. For the owners they were treated with great facilities and many who had not been to Towcester before quickly put right the fact that the viewing was incredible, not as many had been led to believe that the track was too far away. Trainers who had said that the Derby should not have been at Towcester, and there were many including Seamus Cahill!, came and many retracted what they had previously thought or said. Then a certain few in the media who had also written and spoken that the Derby should have gone to Sheffield or Sittingbourne now admitted that they were wrong and Towcester was without doubt the rightful new home of our showpiece event of the year.
I could write a never ending blog on the whole event but I'm struggling with time at the moment as we are incredibly busy this week, so let's focus on Saturday night. Having experienced huge crowds back in the late eighties at Wimbledon when the Derby first moved from White City it has to be said how sad it was to only see around 2,000 people turn up a couple of years ago to a run down stadium like Wimbledon and to have the event organised by the worse culprits for bringing our sport to its knees in its history, namely the GRA, only the sponsorship from William Hill saved the event from even being staged. I can honestly say that I never thought I would see crowds of 5,000 + at a Greyhound meeting in my time but on Saturday I'm told there was over 6,000 at Towcester Racecourse and they assure me they never gave the event the full promotion that they were capable of doing as they wanted to see how the event coped with just the industry promotion. Their vision that next year this crowd could double is certainly not 'pie in the sky'
Those that previously said the Towcester lacked 'atmosphere' were so far off the mark it's untrue, wow! the night was unbelievable and it's been over 20 years since I experienced an atmosphere like Saturday night. that was on a par with many huge sporting events I've been lucky enough to attend, the place was quite simply 'rocking'!
What made the night was without doubt an awesome card with many of the star names in our Greyhound world coming to race. The 14 race card had everything, great finals, variety, a superb Derby final line up and yes! the three 8 dog races were undoubtedly a massive success especially the Dorando Marathon where our Aayamza Breeze
came from last to first to just get up on the line. The roar coming off the last bend as she scythed her way through the field will live long in the memory, simply one of the best moments in my career which is really saying something! 7 of the 14 winners came from off the pace to win on the night and 3 were from last to first, a mixture of seeds also won which, lets face it, many knockers of Towcester said wouldn't happen, last year at Wimbledon only 5 of the 14 races saw dogs coming from off the pace just to put it in perspective.
The final itself was full of 'ifs and buts' but only a tiny majority saw a magnificent break and pure pace to the bend coming from Seamus Cahill's Astute Missile
. He was all over the inevitable front runner Hiya Butt, who had his 'perfect' draw in trap 1, and down the back straight Astute Missile got inside Hiya Butt and hit the front at the third bend. If the 'Derby Roar' was electric as the hare came round it was a 100 decibels more as Tyrur Shay unleashed his powerful run around the last two bends to turn in striking distance of Astute Missile but this time he found a rival who was carrying something that we all know was from up above. Despite a monumental effort the Irish star, who without doubt had dispelled all the myths regarding the type of dog needed for Towcester namely a wide runner coming from behind, just couldn't get to Astute Missile and Seamus and Teresa Cahill's star gallantly held on to grab their first ever Greyhound Derby winner and it was entirely on merit. A massive well done to them and their team, it was most deserving.
To sum everything up I left Towcester Saturday night absolutely buzzing. Our two winners on the night Bruisers Bullet
and Aayamza Breeze were awesome and both races felt like they had won major Category 1 races. For Bruisers Bullet it was a case of what might have been as he majestically took the Invitation race in the best time of the night, a brilliant 28.78 (-10). I think if you asked a 100 trainers what dog they would like to have that was in the Derby a vast majority would say Bruisers Bullet and we all know he has a great career ahead of him. Aayamza Breeze's Dorando Marathon was many people's idea of the race of the night and what a marathon prospect she is . The pair are kennelled together and though they have a lot to live up to to be crowned the new kennel 'Dream Team' taking over from Billys Bullet and Domino Storm who were also paired together, they are well on their way. Towcester have come out of the event with a huge amount of credit and thanks have to go to Lord Hesketh for his vision and enthusiasm to make this all happen, an absolute certainty for the honour for the Services to the Industry award this year in my opinion. His Chief Executive Kevin Ackerman has to take a huge amount of credit for his hard work and I would imagine he will have earned a well earned holiday! The Racing Office headed by RM Chris Page have had to put with a lot of stick but all have played a huge part in making the event a success and deserve huge praise as do their paddock staff and every trainer couldn't speak more highly of their efforts to ensure they were looked after. The track itself was in fabulous condition all the way through and let's face it they had some extreme weather to cope with but Keith Bower, Mark Sealey and their team did a fabulous job with injuries kept to an absolute minimum. The vet Polly Smith deserves all the credit she has received, a more caring person you could not wish to meet. Mention has to go to Ben Keith of Star Sports who lit up the whole event not just with his sponsorship but also his infectious enthusiasm for our sport, he was without doubt a true star and also credit to the other bookmakers at the track who also made the event enjoyable.
Of course there will always be something that might need to be changed for next year and you can't please everybody all the time, that's life really. The pre Derby Racing Committee will meet up shortly to discuss anything that might improve on the overall experience but generally the Star Sports Greyhound Derby at Towcester has put the smiles back on people's faces, roll on 2018!!!!
In other news we head to Sunderland this Saturday as the William Hill Festival begins. We trialled Minglers Toure and Cotton Pants for the 450m Classic yesterday, sadly the lovely Chubbys Oak tore a gracilis muscle in a trial and will be out for at least eight weeks. Rubys Razzle went well in a 450m spin as did Garryglass Champ and they will be joined by Rubys Rascal in the Grand Prix over 640m.
All entries are in for our popular 5 To Follow competition and our first leaderboard will be up next week.
WIith the Derby taking centre stage on Saturday our other commitments probably went by slightly unnoticed but we had a good night at Romford on Friday where our amazing Calco Flyer bounced back to form with another scintillating victory in the heats of the Friday 500 Standard blasting out to beat the useful Young Lord in a superb 23.88. Swift Dartmoor was more workmanlike and won his heat in 24.23 and in form Garryglass Teddy also won over 575m in 35.56.
At Towcester Saturday night in the supporting Derby races we didn't start well with all three of our sprinters missing out in the final with Brynoffa Jasmin best when 3rd. Rubys Rascal was almost our banker of the meeting in the Stayers final but a slow start cost him dear and for a change he was slightly disappointing when only 4th. That was only short lived as Bruisers Bullet was quite outstanding winning the Invitation race in a brilliant 28.68 calc. The eight dog Dorando Marathon was one of the pre Derby Racing Committee's ideas that I sat on and what a race! for the record Aayamza Breeze came from last to first to beat the game Slick Strauss by a head in 55.76. Clondoty Alex fluffed his lines in the 480m 8 dog open but still ran well to finish 4th.
At Henlow on Sunday not as a prolific night as normal but we were still pleased when Roswell Romanov won first look at the track over 550m in a good 33.16 (+ 20) by 5 lengths.
No winners on Tuesday but good runs from Tangled Upinblue (2nd) and Sundays News (3rd).
On Saturday morning Energize Honey got her head in front to win a A7 in 28.80
PERFORMANCE OF THE WEEK
OPEN RACING - BRUISERS BULLET
GRADED - ENERGIZE HONEY
WHAT'S ON NEXT WEEK
A busy week with Towcester back to normal and runners at Hove (Thursday) and Romford (Friday), Sunderland's William Hill festival kicks off on Saturday and we will be back to a Henlow on Sunday.
WEBSITE RECOMMENDED BETS
For a change Rubys Rascal let us down on Saturday and I'm gutted I never put up the two winners but it was hard selecting tips without knowing the draw.
In the William Hill Festival at Sunderland I'm expecting good events for Rubys Razzle and Rascal in the Grand Prix and also Minglers Toure in the Classic.
RUBYS RASCAL - 2 pts ew ante post - William Hill Grand Prix - Sunderland - starts Saturday
RUBYS RAZZLE - 2 pts ew ante post - William Hill Classic - Sunderland - starts Saturday
MINGLERS TOURE - 2 pts ew ante post - William Hill Classsic - starts Saturday
ADVISED LAST WEEK
RUBYS RASCAL - 5 pts win - Towcester - Saturday - lost