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Catch the RP Juvenile draw live on air Thursday
THE pace has really picked up over the past couple of weeks even though the temperatures have dropped ridiculously low; it’s not often I travel northfor warmer weather but that’s what happened this weekend!
Of course there have been some Herculean efforts by tracks and trackstaff to ensure that the show goes on with the two most high-profile success stories of the past few days being Henlow and Crayford.
I think everyone was concerned for Henlow on Tuesday when the Sky cameras were in situ for the final of the Primus Telecom Puppy Derby and it certainly didn’t sound good when the decision was made to bring the feature race forward by 90 minutes in a bid to beat the forecast plunging temperatures.
As it happens, Henlow did get through the whole meeting, barring the loss of a 692m open due to frozen starting traps, but it was still an eminently sensible pre-emptive move to get permission for the switch of race times.
There is sure to have been the odd bit of confusion, but the change was widely flagged up during the day and by Sky Sports when they went on air so it was good to see Henlow take the initiative and have the move endorsed by the GBGB. The surface was predictably slow, but perfectly safe.
Even better to see was the performance of Coolavanny Bert in the final as Kelly Findlay’s dog won just like a 1-3 favourite should. Tougher tests await, most notably next time out competitively in the Racing Post Juvenile at Wimbledon on February 28 (of which more later), but he is one exciting prospect.
Crayford hosted the big weekend action with the semi-finals of the Ladbrokes Golden Jacket on Saturday morning and, as I returned from the RPGTV studios late on Friday night, the bitter, bitter air did not bode well.
Indeed, temperatures atthe Kent track dipped to almost -10C overnight, but as early as 6.58am general manager Barry Stanton tweeted that all was okay and racing would go ahead. Such early, definitive news was very welcome, and so was the opportunity to walk the surface with Ladbrokes’ operations controller Gordon Bissett before the meeting – it was in superb condition given the circumstances.
Again it was slow, but there was a success for every box just seven races in and a mix of fancied and surprise winners, with the elimination of Express Trend from the Jacket being the biggest shock.
Yet again the curse of ante-post favourite in the Crayford Golden Jacket struck and it was hard not to think back to the exit of Midway Skipper in similar circumstances three years – both bitches had bundles in hand on the clock on heat evidence but found out just how unforgiving Crayford can be when you get in behind a wall of greyhounds.
Bookmakers now make it 3-1 the field going into next Saturday’s £15,000 final, but the weather could still have a big say with the forecast mild spell perhaps allowing a more normal track preparation involving getting some moisture on which should speed things up and favour Farley Zach who just found it a bit too demanding when outstayed by Lottes Girl.
Not every track has beaten the elements with, amongst others, Wimbledon losing both fixtures two weekends back, and Doncaster being forced to abandon Friday’s Betdaq Premier League fixture. Sometimes nature just has too strong an upper hand and the sudden temperature drop at Donny was unfortunate in the timing just before the scheduled start as how can you call off a meeting on the basis of a forecast and not fact if the track is actually raceable at the time?
Friday also saw the invitations for the Racing Post Juvenile issued and, although I clearly have to declare an interest, have we ever had such strength in depth or such an eagerly-awaited race?
Four names were inked in a few weeks ago in the shape of Eden Star, Farloe Iceman, Mill Maximus and Silverview Perky, Coolavanny Bert was a no-brainer after Henlow and we went for Go Go Sonic to provide shape to the race as a wide seed not to mention the small fact of him being a Category One winner.
Indeed, that was the starting point for getting an invitation as it transpired with all six having won at that top level – the draw is eagerly awaited and is scheduled to be broadcast on Racing Post Greyhound TV this Thursday.
By the way, as I write on Sunday evening, it’s a shade over ten weeks to thestart of the williamhill.com Greyhound Derby and that fantastic £125,000 first prize. If that doesn’t shake off a few winter blues, nothing will.
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