Weblog: A Ladbrokes look at the sport
From the RPGTV couch to next England manager
My pipe opener as the Magic Sign’s newest greyhound PR man was an eventful one to say the least – appearing on Racing Post Greyhound TV as the heats of the Ladbrokes Golden Jacket was broadcast.
Credit has to go to all the staff at Crayford for managing to provide a raceable and, above all else, safe surface for the dogs to run on the night. Despite the temperatures, the now famous starters managed to pull off each and every ‘Crayford Wiggle’ with gusto, and punters packed the ring and terraces too - for a racecard rich with top quality action. Peter Bussey memorial trials, the ‘Big Bad Bob’s Birthday Bash’ stakes and a hurdle race to boot ticked every box and the stage was set to try to unearth clues as to which dog might land this year’s £15,000 prize.
Ante-post favourite Express Trend was the standout performer on the night and despite statistics conspiring against her, she laid down her credentials for all to see in her quest to become the first ante-post favourite to win the race since its inception. The bitch was the ‘good thing’ of the card for many, and question marks over the draw were suitably answered. The writing was on the wall from the first circuit of the track and the Trend is now a worthy 11/8 market leader from an opening show of 3/1.
If the omens do end up playing against the jolly there’s a dog of virtually equal calibre ready and waiting in the shape of Farley Zach, who has the plum rails draw in his semi-final and rightly takes a position as the second favourite in the outright book. The plan for the semi-finalwill be to simply ping the lids, take control of the rail and slide round in-front before kicking on and it’s also a nap selection that the oi-ois will cut through the crisp Crayford air on Saturday morning (along with shops up and down the land) if the red jacket crosses the line in front.
Having spoken his team after a slick trial performance, I was assured that a rails draw was the final piece of the jigsaw for a dog who can do it both ways, but relishes making all – Crayford’s’ unique bends, as we’ve now seen, are also evidently not a problem. Let’s hope the journey from the West Midlands to Crayford bears fruit once more.
It would be remiss of me to avoid flagging up the short ones, but that’s too easy a cop-out. Before I go to look at some dogs which might offer a bit of value, my parting shot is to flag up our enhanced favourites treble which, along with the ‘fastest 380m lap’ market, will make up the specials offering for the remainder of the card. Do take a look.
There was money for Tommys Inluck early doors and any punters clinging onto a voucher at a double figure price would have felt suitably smug when their selection crossed the line first at a start price of 5/1. Having been punted from 8s through to the SP in the ring, she made all and won in a sub 46-second time. Tommys Inluck currently earns an outright quote of 33/1.
Razldazl Monroe was another eye catcher in disadvantageous conditions. The feeling is that better going will only serve to boost her claims and another strong performance would be no surprise.
Looking ahead to Saturday morning it’s one of the BAGS highlights of the year. The 540 metre Peter Bussey Memorial heats again provides an undercard to a programme sure to catch the eye of horseracing earlybirds and football punters alike as they make a weekly pilgrimage to their local office. The day also stands as a family and friends one for many of my colleagues at Imperial House HQ and so I’m hoping they’re amongst the winners as I deputise for my boss at Newbury. I’ll be sure to catch the action via SIS.
Whilst on Saturday night many dogs were attempting to navigate an unfamiliar passageway for the first time at Crayford, I too was venturing into unknown territory when I made my way to the London studios of Racing Post Greyhound TV for my debut on the sofa alongside Jonathan Hobbs and Darrell Williams. As mentioned earlier in the night the snow forced cancellations nationwide as well as amendments to Newcastle’s card, which allowed plenty of time to go ‘off-piste’.
Therefore as well as dissecting the fare at Crayford conversations spanned Tiziano Crudeli, the exuberant subject of our latest advert (he’s currently unavailable for punditry duties on the sofa – talks are ongoing, however, to get him to call a race at Crayford) to my role as a novelty betting spokesman along with discussions about successful punting methods and a view on the weekend’s football results.
With the weather not only playing havoc with much of the nation’s greyhound card but the entire transport network of the capital as well, I’m hoping future journeys home are more straightforward.
I’ll next be on the sofa on Thursday the 12th of April to welcome Crayford’s sister track Monmore to the service.
But the next time I write here we’ll be edging ever closer to the final and we’ll all be that little bit nearer to solving the fiendish puzzle that the Jacket often proves. It goes without saying that the semis will throw up some top quality action with the inevitable shock result along the way.
If you’re still clinging onto an ante-post voucher then you’ve made it round the first bend intact.
Here’s hoping you stay the trip well . . . meanwhile I'm now up to my eyeballs in next England manager stuff.