Bags Championship is back and even bigger
Wednesday October 31: kick off date for 2012 Bags Track Championship at Belle Vue (above). Matches will then be held at every Bags track and seen live in the shops. The final is at Perry Barr Sunday December 23PICTURE: STEVE NASH
A SECOND annual Bags Track Championship has been unveiled, with a new format for its big-money event. Total prize-money, including travel allowances and trophies, will be in the region of £160,000, up from the £150,000 on offer in the inaugural event.
This year’s renewal will involve six groups of three tracks that will race each other on a regional basis to determine a qualifier that goes forward to the Grand Finals on Sunday, December 23 at Perry Barr.
The inclusion of Peterborough in this year’s competition has helped make the numbers and geography fit better – generally reducing the distances to be travelled at the qualifying stage.
As was the case with the first event, staging the finals two days before Christmas offers an unusually high profile as there is no UK horseracing.
This year it falls on a Sunday, so Bags had the choice of four venues racing that day, opting for Perry Barr due to its central location and good motorway connections.
Each of the tracks will stage one qualifying match consisting of six races, with teams supplying two runners per race. There will be a sprint, standard (for dogs, bitches, pups and unrestricted) plus a stayers. If a track does not stage sprints an additional standard race will be held.
Similar to last year, competing greyhounds must have had at least five graded races at their home track, and be open-race maidens before the start of the event at Belle Vue on Wednesday October 31, when the Manchester track hosts Nottingham and Sheffield.
Different to last year, however, is runners are eligible if they win an open after the event kicks off.
The last qualifier before the final will take place at Romford on Thursday, December 6 when Peterborough and Yarmouth are the visitors.
Graham McLennan, Bags general manager, said: “It will be interesting to see how the dynamics of the new groups work. Also, team managers have six weeks to think about it, and discuss with trainers whether to risk a progressive greyhound winning an open before the championship starts – rendering it ineligible.”
Reigning champions Monmore will begin the defence of the title at Perry Barr on Tuesday, November 6 when Hall Green will be the third participating track. The other three groups comprise Kinsley, Newcastle and Sunderland; Oxford, Poole and Swindon; and Crayford, Hove and Sittingbourne.
At the end of the group stage, the highest points-scoring team in each will advance to the championship final. This year’s finals will comprise ten events, rather than last year’s six, with the six tracks providing one runner in each race.
This will involve two staying races, and two each of the standard unrestricted, dogs and bitches, plus one sprint and one standard puppy race.
The qualifiers have been spread as evenly as possible over the period, which is slightly longer than last year, to allow for recovery time between races. There will be only one be one qualifying event on any given day.
Points are scored 10, 7, 5, 3, 2 and 1 in order of finish. Heats are worth £200, runner-up £100, others £75; the final race winners get £500 each, second £200, others £100.
Winning group teams receive £1,500, runner-up £750, third £500, while the overall winning team picks up £6,000 and trophy, second £4,000, others £2,500.
Team purses are split at the discretion of each team manager. A travelling allowance of £1,000 per team is being made.
In addition the overall winner will see £12,500 added to Bags prize-money at the track in the following period, with £5,000 to the runner-up.
Groups (with dates of matches):
A - Belle Vue (Oct 31), Nottingham (Nov 13) and Sheffield (Nov 29).
B - Kinsley (Nov 4), Sunderland (Nov 20) and Newcastle (Dec 5).
C - Perry Barr (Nov 6), Hall Green (Dec 3) and Monmore (Nov 23).
D - Swindon (Nov 2), Oxford (Nov 16) and Poole (Dec 1).
E - Sittingbourne (Nov 1), Crayford (Nov 15) and Hove (Nov 28).
F - Peterborough (Nov 9), Yarmouth (Nov 21) and Romford (Dec 6).
Grand final: Perry Barr, Sunday December 23.
*THE GBGB has launched its iPhone app.
Titled ‘The Dogs’, the app is free to download from mobileapp.gbgb.org.uk or from a user’s iTunes or iPhone App store and has been designed for both racing purists and newcomers to the sport. It can also be used on an iPad, while an Android app for use on all other smartphones is currently under development and will be available soon.
Feedback has been excellent. A feature of the app is the ‘My Kennel’ section that enables the user to place an infinite number of greyhounds in their kennel by searching a database or by adding directly from a race result. Each time a greyhound appears in an upcoming racecard, a push notification will alert the user that it is due to run.
**Much more in Saturday's paper