5th March 2018
(Opens to a third party website)
Thursday and Friday, as well as having a reasonable amount of snow, must rank as two of the coldest days I've ever known in my life. Temperatures in the past have been lower than the minus 5 that it was here but nothing I've ever seen could have been worse than the wind chill which many said made it feel like minus 15 at times! Not surprisingly the dogs just don't like it and anytime they did spend out in the paddocks etc they couldn't wait to get back in their warm kennels, thankfully it relented quite a bit Saturday afternoon and remarkably today it felt like a summer's day as temperatures rose to around 10 degrees. Not surprisingly as well the racing at Towcester, Romford, where we had runners, was cancelled both on Friday and Saturday with the meetings being rescheduled, in Romford's case, until today.
The real cold weather started late on Monday and I must admit I didn't think we would be having Crayford's big meeting on Tuesday night featuring the Ladbrokes Golden Jacket and Peter Bussey finals. Fair play to the track staff and all at Crayford, despite temperatures around minus 3 or 4, they did a magnificent job not only making it raceable but also it seemed safe and with no bias, indeed it was running a touch on the fast side. Of course there were a few non runners with trainers not able to make the journey and certainly the crowd was the smallest I've ever seen at a Golden Jacket final but it would have been difficult to reschedule the meeting so it turned out ok in the end.
On the track the Golden Jacket final went the way of Derek Knight's favourite Shotgun Bullet who to be fair was a worthy winner as he had dominated the event. Cincinnati, who had done magnificently to reach the final, couldn't reproduce his blistering start he had in the semi final which could have certainly troubled the favourite and Rubys Rascal looked in a decent pitch as he nudged Cincinatti out at the first turn to sit in 4th place. He ran very well to finish 3rd in the end but couldn't get past both traps 5 and 4 who acted as a bit of a goalkeeper to Shotgun Bullet. Both seem well and we will look to run them back at Towcester with the Trainers Championship in mind.
No doubt the highlight of the night was Mike Davis's Saleen Ash winning the Peter Bussey Memorial Trophy in magnificent style, a seventh consecutive victory in the event for the kennel, quite remarkable. Ninja Penny, our other runner in the final, again missed the kick but Saleen Ash didn't and the race quickly became a battle between him and trap 1 Droopys Who but Ash always had the upper hand and secured a fine victory by 1 3/4 lengths in a fine 33.42. I loved the presentation photo as I had both my son Daniel (paraded Saleen Ash) and my wife Sarah and daughter Emily all in the picture as well Ash's owner Mike Davis and Kennelhand and friend Kevin Ulla and it was good to catch up with our annual meeting with Christine Bussey (one for the family album!) Thanks again to Peter Bussey's widow Christine for sponsoring the race and hopefully we will do our best to make it eight next year!
Overall the night was a great success as we also had wins with Kiltrea Mike in a 714 maiden in a very decent 45.21 while Golden Jacket semi finalist Garryglass Champ bounced back with a nice win in a standard 714m in 45.40 while our hurdler Parkers Dynamite scrambled home to win in 23.96. All the points secured on the night saw us climb to the top of the Trainer of the Year standings for the first time in 2018 and although it's not a priority of ours it's still nice to see ourselves at the top, there is a long way to go.
Now on to the not so good news as we look at the Astute Electronics Gold Cup where the six heats were rescheduled to Sunday night after Saturday's meeting was cancelled. Black Farren, our main hope, crashed out at the first stage, despite a good break he never really looked to have the pace that saw him runner up in the Irish Derby and though not beaten a million miles he was never at the races, hopefully a few runs and some warmer weather will see the best of him come out. Worse was to follow in the next heat as our recent impressive Monmore winner Bonzo's Bullet smashed his hock in between the first and second bends with nothing around him. He was only really in the competition to get a couple of runs into him before he stepped back up to six bends so it was gutting for all the connections. Today he's visited Martin Bennett's at Lingfield for an operation to fix the hock but he will be unlikely to race again though he's a lovely dog and will make a nice pet when all is sound again. Thankfully these incidents are rare in our sport but can happen and like any sport with speed it carries a certain risk.
The heats of the Gold Cup took a turn for the better as we finished with a 150/1 double as Ninja Fortune showed some lovely trackcraft to win his heat in 28.13, an improving dog for sure and recent A2 scorer Plan Ahead stepped up in class and showed great early pace to lead some decent rivals and hang on to win at 25/1 in 28.32 calc. Both may struggle to beat the likes of Dorotas Wildcat or Bubbly Bluebird but you never know and we will take getting in the final for sure.
Obviously Crayford is covered above while the only other open race action was on Sunday where Bombers Bullet contested the final of the Maiden Midi Gold Cup Final at Henlow where a field of 6 railers where all jostling for places. Trap 5 Inky Holdem for Carol Weatherall came out fastest and that was that as the rest of the field bunched, Bombers Bullet never got any kind of run but tried his hardest before eventually dead heating for 3rd place.
We only had a couple of graded runners on Sunday night as Friday's and Saturday's were cancelled. Both Ballyfinn Jade and Airforce Cluxton ran well when second.
PERFORMANCE OF THE WEEK
OPEN RACING - SALEEN ASH
WHAT'S ON NEXT WEEK
Today saw the heats of both the Coral Essex Vase and the Golden Sprint at Romford. Our open race action this week will be at Monmore where we just have the one runner entered in the Puppy Derby in Brinkleys Twirl. We will be back to Romford on Friday while on Saturday as well as the Astute Electronics Gold Cup semi finals other opens at Towcester are scheduled.
WEBSITE RECOMMENDED BETS
A glorious 12/1 winner recommended in the Peter Bussey Memorial Trophy final in Saleen Ash to swell the funds and a little bit of profit on Rubys Rascal as he finished 3rd in the Ladbrokes Golden Jacket on Tuesday. Not so good in our small plays in the Essex Vase and Golden Sprint at Romford or the Astute Electronics Gold Cup at Towcester. That means no interest really this week but hopefully we will have something next week.
ADVISED LAST WEEK
SALEEN ASH - 2 pts ew ante post 12/1 - Peter Bussey Memorial Trophy - Crayford - Tuesday - WON (30 pt profit)
RUBYS RASCAL - 2.5 pts ew ante post 14/1 - Ladbrokes Golden Jacket - Crayford - 3rd (4 pt profit)
BOYLESPORTS DUKE - 1.5 pts ew ante post 20/1 - Coral Essex Vase - Romford - Monday - lost
KILCREE DIAMOND - 2 pts ew ante post 33/1 - Coral Golden Sprint - Romford - Monday - lost
BLACK FARREN - 1 pt ew ante post 20/1 - Astute Electronics Gold Cup - Towcester - lost