Weblog: At large in the greyhound world
It's 3-1 the field from Betfred on their Select
The field for the Betfred Select Stakes, at Nottingham on Wednesday July 18, has been chosen and it’s 3-1 the field from the sponsors.
3-1 Taylors Sky (Charlie Lister),
7-2 Blue Artisan (Harry Williams), Silverview Perky (m) (Charlie Lister),
4 Bubbly Phoenix (w) (Paul Young), Mill Bling Bling (Kelly Macari),
8 Alien Planet (Stuart Mason)
The race is over 500m, the winner receives £7,500, runner-up £2,000, others £750 each. NB The draw will be made, live on SIS, on Friday July 13.
Reserves (in voting order): Sawpit Sensation (m), Newinn Rocket, Boher Paddy and Ballymac Cryan.
Voting took place on Wednesday in London via a Greyhound Writers’ Association panel of 12, witnessed by George Primarolo of the sponsors, along with Dave Baldwin of Nottingham, plus special guests, Steve Fluin, chairman of the Champagne Club - owners of Bubbly Phoenix - and the greyhound’s trainer, Paul Young.
And as a member of the panel, I’d like to thank all those who put forward nominations. It was much appreciated and as tough a judgement call as there has been in the history of the event - and I have as long an association as just about anybody having been racing manager at Wembley in the 1980s, the original home of the famous one-off. On a personal level I have been delighted at the support Nottingham has since given the race, and the excellent prize-money put up by Betfred. Thank you to both.
Two greyhounds received unanimous votes: Taylors Sky and Bubbly Phoenix. Then in voting order it was Silverview Perky, Blue Artisan and Mill Bling Bling.
A dead-heat had resulted for the sixth spot between Alien Planet and Sawpit Sensation, and the panel was asked to again vote, specifically on the pair - Alien Planet won that seven votes to five.
So Sawpit Sensation stands by as first reserve and can replace any runner up until the draw is made on Friday week. After that it depends on not breaking the seeding classification rule.
A third vote had to be taken to give an order of preference for the other reserves. Newinn Rocket got six, Boher Paddy four and Ballymac Cryan two votes.
My voting was almost identical to the resulting field, but I had gone for Sawpit Sensation over Alien Planet. This was odd as I had arrived intending to vote for Alien Planet, but after studying the form of David Hunt’s dog, I switched sides on the basis of some cracking Nottingham performances - this is a runner who never seems to know when he is beat. Plus he is a dog who can come off the back - and might aid a clean-run affair. Furthermore as a middle, he would make the seeding split a little better.
That said, Alien Planet, trained by Stuart Mason, is a tremendously exciting young dog and it will be fascinating to see how he goes.
However, Betfred put him in at 8/1, and I imagine Sawpit Sensation would have gone off shorter than that - purely as the locals respect him so much.
Steve Fluin, on behalf of The Champagne Club, Bubbly Phoenix’s owners, said: “I’ve been impressed by the manner that this has taken place in - and didn’t realise it was all taken so seriously. It is a fair process.”
But the connections of those greyhounds that did not make the field are understandably disappointed - and there were several angry calls made to members of the panel as three respective trainers, and one breeder, vented their spleen. Again, our apologies, but you can understand why major event winners who have not even made the reserves list would be baffled. That’s the problem with a one-off, six places - and especially this year - is not enough. But turning it into two heats, the easy option, removes what make this special.
Anyway, all complaints should go to the GWA chair, Jonathan Kay! He had run at length through each nominated runner’s career, and form was distributed, so it can hardly be put down to ignorance.
Incidentally after six years in the post, Jonathan has decided to step down - and did announce this before the angry calls came through! That is a shame as he has done an excellent job, and I hope he might re-consider. He explained that the GWA is now 30 years old and he feels it is time for a change. He is pleased that Hills have agreed to stage a race to mark the 30th anniversary on William Hill St Leger gala night at Wimbledon on November 22.
George Primarolo of Betfred generously allowed a £200 charity bet on the Select and there could only be one recipient of that, Bubbly Phoenix at 4-1, given the connections were present, and perhaps more importantly as he is the only wide seed. He trials there on Monday. George pledged Betfred will donate £1,000 to the Retired Greyhound Trust if Bubbly Phoenix wins. That is a fantastic gesture.
Steve Fluin added: “He’s very well, the travel to Ireland took nothing out of him and we’re hopeful.”
Obviously there was plenty of chat about the Greyhound Trainers Association election, but I’m going to stay out of that one as it’s purely a matter for the trainers themselves. My only comment is I think it might be very close - the training community seems split. I hope everyone does use their vote, and then gets behind whoever the winner is. It’s a thankless task really, and trainers should be grateful to Messrs Holloway and Simpson for being prepared to give it a go, rather than moaning about one, or the other.