Monday 27th January 2014
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A bit late on parade this week having just returned from an excellent weekend in Manchester attending the GBGB awards night. Myself and Sarah travelled up on Saturday with friends Kevin and Helen and Ron Mills the country's leading canine physiotherapist. After checking in at the iconic Deansgate Hilton we stopped at the hotel Saturday evening for a relaxing meal in their very good restaurant where we bumped into Photographer Steve Nash and his wife Liz and leading owner Simon Wooder with his wife Emma. We enjoyed a late night drink together (probably had one too many!) before we had a shopping trip at the nearby Arndale complex on Sunday morning.
The awards night built up with many guests arriving Sunday afternoon but as the day progressed a large contingent of anti's converged outside the hotel and gave incoming arrivals a torrent of abuse. All I can say is that these anti's are really targeting the wrong people as everyone attending the awards would be considered the most caring and greyhound friendly set of people that the world can find and the greyhounds in our care couldn't want for more as is the case with all the people in the industry but of course you will never change these people's minds who mostly looked like they couldn't look after themselves properly let alone any living animals, enough said.
This protest didn't affect what was a great occasion and everything about the night was done professionally and with great fun. Jonathan Hobbs and Darrell Williams were, as always, brilliant comperes and I can honestly say that Maurice Watkins (GBGB Chairman) and Barry Faulkner (GBGB Chief Executive) spoke with more passion than I have ever seen before. Bob Rowe was rightly honoured as was Tom Kelly in services to the industry awards and as the night went along we enjoyed another lovely mea. On our table as well as the guests we travelled up with we enjoyed the company of Scott Fraser and Brian Usher (Lil Risky fame) Pete Symonds (Partex Marking Systems, Prestige sponsors this Wednesday) and his partner Linda and Jay Currell and his partner Paige (Mark Currell's son and winner of our 5 To Follow prize).
As for the Greyhound awards I couldn't argue with any of the results. I felt all the individual categories went the right way and congratulations to all the connections of the winners especially to Farloe Tango who was rightly crowned Greyhound Of The Year. For us it was a huge thrill to see Adageo Bob see off some stiff opposition to win the Best British Bred Award for 2013 and it was an honour for me to receive the trophy on behalf of owners Dick and Ann Barfoot. We wish Dick who is currently in hospital after a fall a speedy recovery and I'm sure Adageo Bob's award helps.
It was an honour for myself to pick up our 5th Trainer Of The Year title and I was emotional when interviewed on the stage. It's hard not to be as the title means so much to me this year more than most and I genuinely feel we earned massive respect from my fellow professionals for the way we battled through some adversity to land the award. I owe so much to my wife Sarah and all my team at Imperial Kennels and again I thank them all.
The occasion was a huge success and another late night followed but it was well worth it. Thanks have to go to Amanda Duplock, Emily and Lucy Dye and all their team at the GBGB for organising another brilliant awards night and we look forward to next year's event, (hopefully back in London if I'm honest).
Talking of Ann and Dick Barfoot they could be in line to add another piece of silverware to their growing collection this Wednesday when their Blonde Razor lines up in the Partex Marking Systems Prestige final over 645m at Hall Green covered live on the Sky/Bags show. An excellent heat win last Wednesday from an awkward trap 5 slot in Blonde Razor's first race of the year meant he would be the likely favourite but again he has drawn trap 5 in the £5,000 to the winner event and he will have to pull out all the stops to land the feature race. This would be the icing on the cake to a superb January and it would mean we would win the third feature big race final on the trot in the Sky nights after Reel Trickyone won both the Coronation Cup and Essex Vase titles previously.
I decided not to travel to Sheffield for any of the heats in the next Sky feature broadcast as I didn't think we had anything ready in the kennel to do us justice in the competitions though we might have runners on the supporting card. The roadshow moves on to Newcastle after and I will be weather dependant on deciding if we will be travelling to the North East.
The Ladbrokes Golden Jacket at Crayford is just around the corner and this week Hometown Honey and Sidaz Dippy, who are both prominent in the ante post market, travel down for trials and races at the Kent track in preparation for the massive £17,500 first prize.
Another major event just around the corner is the William Hill Springbok for Novice Hurdlers and our Cornamaddy Jumbo is currently trading at a skinny 3/1 favourite so despite our kennel currently having only around 20 runners available for racing it has been a remarkable start to the year where we have a huge 80 odd point lead in the early Trainer Of The Year standings. Blonde Razor as well as three other runners on the supporting card could see that lead increase even further after Wednesday
On Wednesday at Hall Green as said Blonde Razor won his heat of the Partex Marking Systems Prestige beating King Kane by 3 1/4 lengths in a calculated 39.54. Hometown Honey could only finish 4th in her heat and to be fair the outside runners like her did seem to be at a slight disadvantage.
Aero Twizzle won well in a sprint at Hove on Thursday in a good 16.30 and Sidaz Dippy on her return to racing ran very well when 2nd in a inadequate 515m race beaten just over 2 lengths in 29.76.
No luck at Romford on Friday from our 5 runners but both Jazz Tilly (2nd) and Ilewin Allot (3rd) ran well in defeat, while at Sittingbourne on Sunday Murlens Crash was 2nd in the heats of the Bookmakers Sprint. Our only other runner Darian Star showed the benefit of a good second the week before when landing a 480m Standard coming from behind in 29.64.
Just three runners on Saturday with Ollie Blue best when 3rd in a tough A3.
PERFORMANCE OF THE WEEK
WHAT'S ON NEXT WEEK
Some important trials at Crayford on Tuesday where Sidaz Dippy and Hometown Honey go through their paces.
On Wednesday Blonde Razor bids for glory in the final of the Partex Marking Systems Prestige live on Sky at Hall Green and it's nice to see Aayamzabella and Garyglass Rodge return to racing in supporting races though they are not particularly very well drawn. Aero Twizzle has his draw in trap 1 in a sprint race.
We will also be at Hove on Thursday, Romford and Coventry on Friday and on Saturday Golden Jacket Trial Stakes should be interesting.
On Sunday Murlens Crash runs in the final of the Bookmakers Sprint at Sittingbourne.
WEBSITE RECOMMENDED BETS
Hometown Honey unfortunately was eliminated from the Partex Marking Systems Prestige heats but Blonde Razor available at a generous 8/1 won well and now trading at around 5/2 has a serious chance despite a bad draw. Aero Twizzle on the supporting card is a dog on the up and is worth supporting at the best early price you can see.
AERO TWIZZLE - 4 pts win (take early price) - Hall Green - Wednesday
ADVISED LAST WEEK
BLONDE RAZOR - 5 pts win ante post 8/1 - Partex Marking Systems Prestige Final - Hall Green - Wednesday
HOMETOWN HONEY - 2 pts e.w ante post 7/1 - Partex Marking Systems Prestige - Hall Green - lost