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Ladbrokes Golden Jacket and RP Juvenile looming
THE annual GBGB awards evening is done and it really is time to look forwards now rather than reflect on the past. And 2012 promises to be an absolute belter on the track with a fantastically exciting crop of greyhounds coming to the fore.
Most of them seemed to be in action at a fabulous trials session at Sheffield last week when Barrie Draper’s Eden Star took star billing by dipping inside Slick Cilti’s 280m track record in calculated terms, while Charlie Lister took the wraps off his Derby and Oaks winners, Taylors Sky and Silverview Perky.
Eden Star and Silverview Perky are on course for the Racing Post Juvenile at Wimbledon on the last Tuesday of February, where they are likely to be joined by a couple of last year’s big puppy competition winners in the shape of Mill Maximus [late Unreal Timmy] and Farloe Iceman, who are also both just emerging from hibernation.
Kelly Macari’s Mill Maximus has impressed in a couple of comeback sprint trials at Doncaster, the latest on Friday when he eyecatchingly dipped under 17sec on a -25 track, while I doubt Matt Dartnall will have been too perturbed to see Farloe Iceman short-headed by classy Spinkys Nod in his first race for more than three months at Hove on Thursday.
Should the big quartet continue towards Wimbledonwithout mishap they are clearly all but certain to be officially invited – nominations must be in by Friday, February 10 – but that still leaves a couple of places up for grabs.
Ideally, competition winners are theorder of the day so the winners of Henlow’s ongoing Primus Telecom Puppy Derby and, perhaps, Shelbourne’s Joe Dunne Memorial could be in line, but anyone can throw their hat in the ring so don’t be shy about getting in touch.
As I write, I’ve just finished preparing for a stint on Racing Post Greyhound TV where five Ladbrokes Golden Jacket trial stakes from Crayford were the standout races which is a timely reminder that one of my favourite competitions of the year is just around the corner.
It starts on RPGTV next Saturday (February 4) before the semis and final switch to the traditional Saturday morning fixtures the following two weeks.
The 714m course at Crayford asks a bit of everything of greyhounds and can make for thrilling racing - although I’d still rather have something with a bit of foot to ensure the first bend can be cleared unscathed, short runners quite simply won‘t see out the eight bend course.
Fleeting Image had been my long-term fancy but the fears of trainer Kelly Findlay were realised when he did not handle the track in a trial stakes last week and he will head elsewhere so it is going to head-down on the studying front with Farley Zach coming under the microscope ahead of his trial stakes run even though Kim Billingham’s dog did not make it past the first round 12 months ago.
Greyhound racing is full and ups-and-downs and the case of Russell Senior sharply highlights that. Just a couple of weeks ago he was flying high with the chance to top the Trainer of the Year standings for the first time if Rockview Sail could complete an unbeaten run through the Coronation Cupat Romford, but defeat in that seemed to precipitate a split with leading owner Duncan Begley which has decimated Senior’s kennel strength both in numbers and quality. It won’t be easy, but hopefully he can bounce back over a period of time.
By the way, Tuesday next week marks the first anniversary of the Bags/SIS 500 Series which launched at Swindon. We were all pretty low 12 months ago even if we pretended otherwise and clearly thereis far more optimism around at the moment despite general gloom in the ‘real world’ due to the many initiatives that have followed.
Did that afternoon fixture at the Wiltshire venue represent the moment that greyhound racing’s decline bottomed out?
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