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Trainers in desperate battle for last two places
CHRIS ALLSOPP and team are deservedly basking in the glory of taking the Trainer of the Year title for the first time, but Thursday evening showed just how much is left at stake with Kelly Findlay, Dean Childs and Seamus Cahill all chasing what appear to be the two remaining Trainers’ Championship qualifying positions.
Cahill, officially reigning Trainer of the Year for another week or so, had most to do having dropped out of the all-important top six when Nick Savva sent out Westmead Maldini to win the Essex Vase final at Romford and he desperately needed to thrive in the trio of Category Three races offering 10 points on the Hove card.
With no joy in the first of them as his slow-starting Sakara Star was never a factor behind uber-impressive Tullig Joy in the Coral Sussex Puppy Trophy final and no representative in the secondwhere Sheffield raider Olivers Twist won the Jimmy Jupp National Hurdle in some style, it was nearly win or bust for Cahill in the Ballyregan Bob Memorial where he sent out Droopys Aretha and Skywalkerhearer.
And Oaks runner-up Droopys Aretha stepped up to the plate by digging deep over a 695m distance she had never tackled before to maintain an early lead throughout allowing Cahill, who also took a couple more one-point opens on the Hove card plus one at Henlow, to close in to just one point behind Childs (two one-point Henlow winners) and four adrift of Findlay (two one-point Hove winners).
The race looks like going right down to the wire, which will effectively be live on Racing Post Greyhound TV next Thursday when Henlow and Hove again have multi-open cards planned although Findlay does have one final chance to shoot for 10 points when her Ministry Missile likely goes off a short-priced favourite for the JB Riney Boxing Day Marathon final at Crayford.
Looking at the bigger picture from Hove’s meeting this week, Paul Sallis’s Tullig Joy looks a serious prospect having made it four wins from four career starts with an superb all-the-way puppy final victory in an easily best-of-night 29.49sec (-10) for the 515m course, although runner-up Coolavanny Bert is likely to join him as real Category One contender for 2012 having lost little in defeat.
Chris Allsopp is very much a graded handler as well as the main man when it comes to open-racing and he switches his emphasis on Friday when having a single runner – Pots And Pans – as the hugely successful inaugural Bags Track Championship aims to go out with a real bang when the grand final is staged at Monmore.
Home advantage didn’t do a lot for the Wolverhampton track in the very first leg of the event six weeks ago, but it really is hard to get away from the notion that the Ladbrokes-owned venue has a favourite’s chance when it matters most with Kim Billingham’s Cape Maldini and Farloe Gambit capable of enhancing their already formidable records in the event over four and six bends respectively.
However, if there is to be a surprise result, Newcastle might be the track to provide it with the Hills stadium having added a couple of new squad members to support standing dishes such as Radiance and Torch.
The Michael Walsh-trained Horse And Jockey,in particular, catches the eye in the very first contest of finals day having moved really well in a Monmore trial, while Craig Dawson’s Tyrur Carey brings Irish Derby form into the contest against aforementioned Cape Maldini.
The Bags Track Championship looks to have already earned some permanence, although that is not to say that there might not be a tweak or two looking ahead to 2012. This year’s event rather had to be squeezed in before the end of December and it would be better for a less hectic schedule of qualifying legs in future to allow more time for trials at the various tracks.
And, with Peterborough due to come on board the Bags bandwagon on an experimental basis, there is also the potential to even the regions out numerically having this time been one track light in the south.
It’s voting week for Greyhound Writers’ Association members in the various categories for the GBGB annual awards with some distances easier to unravel than others – look for the nominations to be announced on New Year’s Day – which means it must be festive time too so all that remains is to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and best wishes looking ahead to 2012.
**Update 3pm Christmas Eve
Despite a big mid-meeting surge by Hove with back-to-back winners, Monmorewere ultimately comfortable winners of the Bags Track Championship. Hove’s challenge, which ended when Get On Paris stumbled badly at the start in leg 5, had already been compromised by the withdrawal of lame-in-kennels Ardbeg Dottie from the concluding sprint.
A runner light as a result, Hove finished a creditable fourth with both Hall Green and Romford excelling in second and third respectively although the less said about my selection, Newcastle, the better! It seemed that everywhere one of their representatives went, trouble followed.
The battle for Trainers’ Championship qualification remains tight although Kelly Findlay’s Romford double on Friday has given her just a little breathing space. It looks like beinga last-day Thursday shootout between Dean Childs and Seamus Cahill at Henlow and Hove, and all panning out on Racing Post Greyhound TV.
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