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Can greyhound racing think outside the box?
WELL that was the week that was with a quite stunning williamhill.com Oaks victory from Silverview Perky coming just minutes after news of a massive prize money boost for both that event and the St Leger, then followed 24 hours later by the launch of Racing Post Greyhound TV. To think December used to be quiet!
Taking the Oaks first, it’s sometimes easy to overrate form in bitches’ races which don’t have the hurly-burly you expect when bigger, more powerfully-built dogs are in together, but I think we are right to be pretty excited about the Toni Tungatt-owned, Charlie Lister-trained youngster.
Not two until next month, Silverview Perky is a pretty impressive specimen herself as it happens weighing in at 30kg plus and she lookscapable of holding her own whatever she is in against. When you consider the electric pace that Dolores Ruth’s Razldazl Rioga showed en route to beating Silverview Perky's kennelmate Boher Paddy 20 minutes earlier, it speaks volumes that the Lister bitch was almost five lengths quicker on the clock.
Charlie afterwards nominated the Racing Post Juvenile as a possible early 2012 target and how good would it to see her in against Eden Star in that? Incidentally, I queried whether nature might intervene in Silverview Perky’s plans and the intention is to leave her alone until late January to allow a chance for her to break in season, and then suppress her at that stage if not, so she will definitely be good to go for the Derby.
The premier Classic, of course, offers a mind-blowing £125,000 first prize next year and Hills pulled another couple of rabbits out of the hat when Kate Miller announced live on Sky Sports that the Oaks and Leger next year would both be worth £15,000, up from £6,000 and £8,000 respectively.
There seemed to be a certain element of impulsiveness to the announcement with Kate and Hills’ chief executive Ralph Topping agreeing during the course of the day that a prize of £6,000 for the what is a championship event just did not sit right.
But it was telling that Miller, on air, and Topping in a subsequent blog both stressed how important it is that greyhound racing thinks outside of the box and goes after non-bookmaker sponsors as well.
Frankly, the lack of confidence that so-called ‘promoters’ have in their product is frightening – they need to be out selling the sheer excitement of live greyhound racing to companies across the board. In terms of other sports, a little sponsorship money can go a long way in greyhound racing and at least half of our venues have perfectly acceptable corporate facilities for entertaining clients.
Incidentally, Stuart Forsdike, owner of Leger winner Aero Majestic, makes the very same points in Richard Birch’s Inside Track feature in Wednesday’s Racing Post, but I’m not going to hold my breath all the same. One of the first comments I heard regarding the Oaks/Leger boost was from someone on the management side of the fence commenting that it was too much and might make things difficult with other sponsors!
So to Friday and the launch of Racing Post Greyhound TV which I had the honour to appear alongside the superb Errol Blyth on that first night.
It’s fair to say that all concerned headed to the studio just off Tottenham Court Road in London with a mixture of anticipation and trepidation. Of course we were excited, but we didn’t really know what to expect first up and that feeling probably wasn’t helped when director Paul Stewart-Tilling pulled Errol and myself aside an hour before on-air and basically told us just to keep talking whatever the technical problems were!
Of course, a few things went awry and the programmewill get sharper and evolve over the weeks, but I think everyone was delighted with the way things panned out and the feedback was very kind and much appreciated.
The three-and-a-half hours flew by, but quite where Errol gets his energy from I don’t know. We agreed beforehand that he, as king of the commentators, would call all the races leaving my race-calling debut on hold as I was designated social media co-ordinator instead – and please do keep that feedback coming via Twitter @RPGreyhounds and, hopefully from this week, via email too.
Errol seemed to relish having the Sky Sports/SIS commentary shackles removed and was a really lively host with his character shining through – I cannow far more understand him being a punk rocker back in the day. We’re teaming up again this Thursday for an excellent Hove/Henlow double-header and I can’t wait.
Before that, though, a trip to Romford for the Coral Essex Vase final which might just be a final throw of the Trainer of the Year dice for Mark Wallis courtesy of the aforementioned Aero Majestic. Were he to pick the 50 points up for winning, then that would really put the pressure on Chris Allsopp’s representatives in Monday’s National Sprint final at Nottingham.
Second place and 20 points would keep things interesting, but any less and Wallis might just have too much ground to make up from diminishing opportunities. With Charlie Lister drawing stumps, it will be either Allsopp or Wallis crowned and both would be deserving winners.
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Update 11.30pm Wednesday: Think we can call Chris Allsopp Trainer of the Year, almost. Mark Wallis has closed to within 13 points or so but Allsopp has a guaranteed 10 in the bank courtesy of 2 National Sprint finalists next week.
There just aren't the opportunities left for Wallis to catch up, but he'll give it his best shot Im sure.
And, watching Sky Sports on Wednesday, his best paintballing shot seemed to catch Julie Collier au derrière! No wonder she didn't want to sit down all night . . .
Congrats to Westmead Maldini, Nick Savva and the Morton family. Nick is back in the top six and we'll hopefully get the inside track from Rob Morton when he guests on Racing PostGreyhound TV on Thursday night.