December’s BAGS/SIS Track Championship meeting was another huge success and great credit to Peterborough in finally getting there after several near misses.

Don’t kid yourself that it was a cosey get-together. Those racing offices are a fairly competitive lot. There was definitely a touch of ‘unpleasantness’ between the Fengate boys and their colleagues over at Yarmouth in the heats – talk of ‘difficulty getting trials’ and question marks over how dogs were being mis-seeded.

If they ever run a Racing Office Track Championship, replace muzzles with gumshields and stick them over the hurdles.

This year’s rules were relaxed slightly on open racers – the competitors could have won a whole hatful, providing there was only one win in the last year. The aim is clearly to prevent the event escalating into another open race competition. But would that be such a bad thing – providing it was properly managed?

I accept that no one wants to see a top open racer, who has barely been spotted at his home track, come waltzing in and taking the lumpy prize money on offer. But, tweak the rules slightly and you can actually improve the event. For example, this year Peterborough had a distinct advantage over one of their heat competitors, Romford. The reason is, the Cambridgeshire track stage very few open races. Had they done so, several of their team would almost certainly have disqualified themselves from the event.

Romford, on the other hand, stage a truck load of opens. The net result is, all the tracks better A1/S1 runners are entered in opens and win their share. There are dozens of potential contenders. At Track Championship time, Peterborough field their best runners, Romford field their second or third best runners.

Back in the days of the old National Intertrack competition, tracks could qualify their top open race stars providing they had contested three graded races at the track during a recent period. Tracks bent the rules by staging some absurd A1s, but it was great entertainment. I remember English Derby runner-up Night Trooper contesting an ‘A1’ at Henlow. The crowd loved it.

What a great incentive for any track to field their six best runners against each other in the ultimate A1 and pay £300 to the winner. Racing offices would ensure that the tracks top stars actually ran at their local tracks and earned the right to represent them.

There would be additional benefits. At the moment, graded dogs are being shipped around the country for trials at tracks they might never race at again. In many cases open racers would already be familiar with other tracks, or simply benefit from already being more experienced and versatile.

Floyd Amphlett – Editor Greyhound Star