Monday 24th February 2014
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It's took a long time to put right a result that has haunted our kennel for over 16 years but on Saturday Hometown Honey gloriously won the Ladbrokes Golden Jacket in a partylike atmosphere at Crayford. Back in 1998 Bubbly Princess crossed the line in front for the Champagne Club when Linda Jones was at the helm at Imperial Kennels and I was Assistant Trainer but unfortunately she was disqualified for having a look when making a small bit of contact with Linda Mullins' El Onda as they battled for the title between the last two bends. The Stewards at the time decided the contact was enough to change the result and she was demoted to last place handing the title to El Onda, a action I'm sure these days would maybe have let go but that was that and we all had to swallow it. This at the time would have given Linda and Imperial kennels our first Category 1 victory making it even harder to take but look at us now! Hometown Honey's superb win was amazingly Imperial Kenne's 51st Category 1 title since the Bubbly Princess incident but most importantly our first Golden Jacket win after quite a few finalists in those 16 years and we can now at last move on.
Of course the drama was still there on Saturday morning in front of a packed crowd at Crayford. The early races showed a distinct advantage to the railers with the outside of the track seemingly drying out fast and with wide running Hometown Honey in trap 6 for the showpiece I was beginning to get worried but thankfully the Stewards made the brave decision to water the track before the final. This in my opinion made it a level playing field which is only right for such a big race and was crucial in the race itself. Sadly Lenson Pele was withdrawn (coughing) in the morning leaving trap 2 vacant and a huge pre-race gamble on the Irish raider in trap 5 Shaneless Becky added to the drama. As the lids opened Hometown Honey again showed her scintillating early pace and comfortably cleared fellow early pacers Sidarian Jaguar and Boltatwelldigger. Standing on the steps after the winning line my joy at our unbeaten in the event bitch leading was short lived as Shaneless Becky surprisingly turned second to her. I think everyone, including myself, at the track thought that was that and it was only a matter of time before Shaneless Becky would get to Hometown Honey and pass her but she is pure class and in the form of her life and completing the first lap Hometown Honey was still holding a two length lead from the Irish raider with Midway Nick in trap 1 making a bold effort in 3rd place. I'm sure everyone expected the two to draw alongside her on the back straight for the last time but she dug deep and continued to hold off her rivals and coming off the last bend she still had a lead though it was now down to just over a length from Shaneless Becky. As they straightened for home and with 60 metres to go it was going to be tight but Hometown Honey bravely stuck to her guns and held the late surge of Shaneless Becky to score by a diminishing neck in a brilliant 45.45. Relief, joy and an extraordinary sense of pride was my initial reaction and we could now revel in the occasion.
The presentation was packed with supporters and connections of Hometown Honey's owners Steve and Sarah Cragg as well as the sponsors and MP David Evennett presented the trophy to them with an added touch of a case containing £17,500 in £20 notes to make it all very special. Afterwards myself and Kevin (Ulla) who paraded Honey for all three rounds joined the connections in the restaurant and the champagne was flowing. To me the reason I continue in this sport is for these occasions as you just can't beat the feeling you get when winning the big Category 1's and to see the smile on owners faces makes it all worthwhile.
If Hometown Honey's victory was not enough the other supporting competition the Peter Bussey Memorial Trophy over 540m contained two of our runners including defending champion Bridge Bandit but it was kennelmate Aayamzamodel who broke best of our two and taking advantage of the better going on the rails led around the first two turns with Bridge Bandit following her round. This was an advantage she kept right to the line and despite a brave effort from Bridge Bandit to retain his title it was Aayamzamodel winning by 3 lengths in 33.65 for the Ayamzaboys Syndicate and scooping the £2,000 first prize. This has to be our lucky competition as Aayamzamodel was our third successive victory following Bridge Bandit last year and Aero Joker in 2012 and completed a truly memorable day at the Kent track.
The week started off in great fashion with a superb turnout for the 'Show of Passion' at London's City Hall. Paschal Taggart called for supporters of greyhound racing to turn up on a Monday afternoon and he certainly got it as trainers, breeders, owners, promoters, press, racing office staff and greyhound fans and many more came from all over Great Britain to support the day. Myself and Kevin travelled down to represent the kennels and we arrived early at the Bridgehouse Bar five minutes away from City Hall. A great atmosphere was in place with many of our Irish counterparts already in the pub. A who's who of greyhound racing was present both there and at the City Hall and in all a crowd of around 600-700 gathered outside the City Hall where a large contingent of retired greyhounds came with their owners. Kinda Ready our 2009 Derby winner arrived to head a small parade with owners Daren and Lee Johnson and it was great to see 'Del Boy' with his house mate 'Rosie' (Kinda Close) and many more stars of the track from the past. A letter from the Irish government was handed over to Deputy Mayor Sir Edward Lister and a round of applause followed. The peaceful show of passion proved a huge success for the We Want Wimbledon team led by the inspirational Diane McLean and many people returned to the Bridgehouse Bar to discuss the day's proceedings and many other greyhound matters, some until quite late in the night!
We were also pleased to see our first runner for quite sometime Adageo Bob successfully get an invite into the Racing Post Juvenile a week tomorrow and he warmed up from a rest with a couple of smart trials this week recording 23.86 at Romford on Tuesday and then before racing on Saturday beating Blackstone Marco just over a length in 28.78. He should come on for the run and is the only wide seed so we will definitely be eyeing up some more silverware.
Sid Huett our head kennel hand is all signed up for Julie Collier's 'Fall For Hounds' Sky dive pencilled in for June and will be looking for sponsors over the next few months. I'm afraid I'm scared of heights and will not be signing up but will be making a massive effort over the next few months to get him well sponsored, click here for his link.
Another successful week for the kennel on the open race circuit. At Hove on Thursday Aero Twizzle seems to love this galloping sprint and made it three from three winning by 2 1/4 lengths in a fine 16.12 calc. Both Jazz Tilly and Sidaz Dippy suffered a reversal when favourites but it was great to see Benkaat Nero return to the winner's podium after serious injury last year when winning over 515m in a fine 29.67 calc. Darian Star chalked up another victory in a bitches' 515m winning well by 2 lengths in 29.93 calc.
No luck at Romford on Friday from our four runners but we went into Crayford's Saturday morning extravaganza in great heart and a glorious 1-2 in the Peter Bussey Memorial Trophy with Aayamzamodel beating kennelmate and defending Champion Bridge Bandit was followed by Hometown Honey's brilliant unbeaten run through the Ladbrokes Golden Jacket.
At night we travelled to Wimbledon for the heats of the William Hill Springbok and Strawpedo Jet wasn't as good as the previous week but qualified safely in third. Cornamaddy Jumbo fancied to land the overall title isn't quite as fluent over the hurdles as we have seen at Crayford and Romford but his flat speed is electric and he scored comfortably by 3 3/4 lengths in 29.71 calc.
On Sunday another two winners from our three runners at Sittingbourne completed an excellent week. In form Murlens Crash took his heat of the Sittingbourne Sprint by over 4 lengths in 16.34 and the rapidly improving Lightning Zeus stepped up successfully to 642m winning by 2 lengths in 40.63.
A busy Saturday night saw a debut for Saffrons Champ who ran better than his 5th place suggested in a tough A4. Reel Slippy was a touch unlucky when 4th in an A2 with Hillcross Miami 3rd and it was pleasing to see Fairest Royal return from season to just hang on in an A1 to win by the minimum margin in 28.33.
Evanta Candyman only a September 12 whelp made a stunning debut landing an A5 by over 7 lengths in a good 28.51. The winners didn't stop there and Ollie Blue scored a long overdue victory in an A3 in 28.55 and Adageo Lad took another top grade event by over 2 lengths in 28.29.
PERFORMANCE OF THE WEEK
WHAT'S ON NEXT WEEK
Not such a hectic week as the last but still plenty of interest. Newcomers Blue Thunder and Evanta Jack trial at Monmore today for a possible tilt at the Ladbrokes Puppy Derby.
On Thursday we will be back to Hove with a few runners.
On Friday Cornamaddy Jumbo and Strawpedo Jet return to Wimbledon for the semi-finals of the William Hill Springbok and we are most likely to be at Romford as well.
On Sunday it's back to Sittingbourne where Murlens Crash bids to win the Sittingbourne Sprint final.
WEBSITE RECOMMENDED BETS
Again I say it, why weren't we on Hometown Honey when winning the Golden Jacket? Well it was simply because she didn't seem value at the time. We were though rewarded with a smart win for Aayamzamodel in the Peter Bussey Memorial Trophy final who beat defending champ Bridge Bandit giving us a nice return for our stake. Cornamaddy Jumbo our a Springbok bet started well when easily landing his heat though he will need to improve, hopefully he can get us our Cheltenham funds by winning this event a week Tuesday.
ADVISED LAST WEEK
AAYAMZAMODEL - 4 pts win ante post 11/2 - Peter Bussey Memorial Trophy - Crayford - WON 22pts profit
CORNAMADDY JUMBO - 5 pts win ante post 5/1 - William Hill Springbok - Wimbledon - semis Friday