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Weblog: Ladbrokes reigning Manager of the Year

So what is the best trip for the brilliant Hoff?

A FANTASTIC evening of greyhound action at Monmore on Thursday night, where clearly the highlight of the evening was the Chocolate Confectionary Overload dessert in the restaurant . . . just kidding! 

The star of the show was undoubtedly Swift Hoffman, who was dominant in the feature race of the evening, the Ladbrokes Gold Cup. All the talk beforehand was would the outside trap stay clear of trouble at the first bend, well they needn’t of worried.  Pat Rosney’s dog zipped out of the box like a two-bend sprinter, and this 4/7 jolly must have been more like 1/7 come the first turn.

I was lucky enough to present the trophy to the winning connections, and they were undeniably thrilled, and there were damp eyes a plenty.  I’ve mentioned before how passionate greyhound owners can be, and this was particularly evident here, and it’s a privilege to be privy to the celebrations.  I look forward to following Swift Hoffman throughout his career, and seeing who wins the ‘six-bend’ argument between owner and trainer!

Swift Hoffman was certainly hot on the track, but I have to say whilst on presentation duties I was taken aback by the heat of the dogs’ breath, it damn near melted my silk tie from Next!  I’ve been known to accuse the wife of ‘dog breath’ first thing in the morning, but on reflection that may have been a tad harsh based on this evidence!

The Sky action kicked off with the Ladbrokes Sprint 264 where Klockwork Khaos provided something of an upset when leading all the way at odds of 14/1.  The latter part of this dog’s name was particularly apt at the first bend, where there was plenty of bumping for the better fancied contenders, but to be fair to the winner he extended his advantage if anything through the second half of the race.  It certainly wasn’t a shock to the winning trainer Paul Sallis either, and you get the feeling he had plenty on.

It was nice to see a familiar name in Bubbly Time winning the Ladbrokes Super Stayers 835, having followed her in the Crayford Golden Jacket earlier in the year.  The betting favoured Droopys Cottage in trap three, but Bubbly Time  was a ready winner in the end, beating the track record in the process too.  I was quite relieved not to be on presentation duties for this one, as I would have been in danger of drowning in a sea of champagne!  Clearly a popular (and well subscribed!) syndicate.

Roxholme Barkley looked one for the future when striding out to win the Des Loughrey Trafalgar Cup and in doing so claimed one of the most impressive trophies I’ve seen in greyhound racing.  The cup itself dates back to 1929 and has only recently been brought back into the game.  It was routinely won by some of the sport’s brightest young prospects, and I’m sure this year’s winner will honour that tradition and go on to bigger and better things.

The Ladbrokes Gold Cup Festival 416 Final took my eye, as I can’t remember seeing too many races over this distance.  The race essentially started on the first bend, and I was reliably informed that Traps One and Two had a massive advantage.  It turns out that information wasn’t so reliable, with Trap Three breaking better than any of them and putting the race to bed quickly.   I do like to see variety in race distances so I enjoyed this one, and the entire card had a nice mixture of events.  I guess the only thing missing was a hurdles race, which is always a shame in my book.

I was interested to learn that course commentator George Atkinson was soon to be hanging up the microphone, and I must say I enjoyed his commentaries and observations between races.  He’s got a good eye for Health & Safety too, as he was heard warning the lovely Ladbrokes Ladies off from sitting on the wall near the hare rail as officials were testing the bunny!  Top commentaries and an eye for danger, I’m sure he’ll be missed.

Finally, just a quick mention on a big weekend of sponsorship for my ‘red team’.  As well as the Gold Cup at Monmore, Ladbrokes have this weekend sponsored the Lanark Silver Bell at Hamilton Park, the Super League Final at Wembley, as well as the continued association with the SPFL.

I got the gig for the presentation of the Silver Bell too, and I have to say it’s a wonderful trophy with a fascinating history.  The trophy was first awarded all the way back in 1165, which makes it the oldest sporting trophy in existence.  Understandably the original is now too valuable to be handled by winning connections, so back in 2012 Ladbrokes commissioned a new replica trophy.  It is a thing of beauty in its own right (and bloody heavy!) and is quite sought after each year north of the border. 

Certainly Mark Johnston seems to like it, as he’s now won three on the trot, this year’s event going to the favourite, Polarisation at 3/1.