While Newcastle raider Queenies Tommy’s 250 race career has been lauded at Newcastle, Perry Barr RM Martin Seal put fingers to keyboard to spotlight his own track’s amazing veteran, Baker Boy.
When Baker Boy entered Perry Barr trainer Phil Naylor’s kennel in January 2016, little could he have known that the diminutive blue would still be knocking in the wins some five years later – writes Martin Seal.
Naylor was already well aware of the family, having trained three members of dam What A Diva’s third litter to Kinloch Brae to win 62 races between them, and Baker Boy joined sisters Delightful Baby and Down South at Naylor’s Burntwood, Staffordshire range at sixteen months of age.
Qualification was straightforward, with Baker Boy leading at halfway to win on debut in A7. He had to wait a couple of months for his next success, but it was off scratch in a handicap, giving notice of the qualities which would be a feature of his running throughout his long career. 2016 eventually yielded 11 wins from 44 races, including two hat tricks, and Baker Boy had by now become a firm favourite with the locals.
2017 proved just as busy, with the tough as teak railer taking part in 49 races, chiefly in A4 and A5 grade, with the occasional handicap thrown in for a bit of variety. This year produced just 6 wins, although there were a stack of seconds and thirds to go with that. By this point, Baker Boy had been an ever present on the Perry Barr racing strength for two full years, having not been required to trial at any point since his arrival.
Baker Boy, however, was just warming up, and 2018 most definitely proved to be his annus mirabilis. Dropped to A6 grade in February by a benevolent Racing Manager, the resulting four length win seemed to inspire the son of Droopys Scolari, and in no time at all, Baker Boy was competing and winning in A3. The third hat trick of his career arrived in April, two of which were in handicaps, and by the time the year ended, Baker Boy had gone to traps on 50 occasions for a tremendous 13 wins. Perry Barr’s Dog of the Year award for 2018 soon followed, and with it his place in local folklore.
Baker Boy was well into his fifth year by now and, understandably, time was beginning to catch up with Phil Naylor’s kennel star. A6 and A7 was now the level at which he was competing, although a minor injury in October necessitated that stumps be drawn for the remainder of 2019, which still yielded a very respectable 9 wins from 39 races.
2020 started brightly enough, with a couple of early victories, although the enforced lockdown when it came in March probably didn’t play to the strengths of the hard as nails blue. In any case, given his age and the numbers already achieved, Baker Boy was not over raced for the remainder of the year, with 4 wins from just 28 races the sum total.
As we start 2021, with some semblance of normality still a fair way off on the horizon, nobody seems to have mentioned this to Baker Boy, who keeps ticking along in his own steady fashion. Following a rough ride in his second race of the year, the local legend seemed out of sorts in his next start, perhaps understandably so in the circumstances. A drop in grade to A8 seemed to ignite a spark, however, with Baker Boy reeling in the leader off the last bend, and following up in A7 seven days later.
215 races and counting, with 45 wins and 50 seconds. A truly magnificent set of figures, with credit due to all those that have played a part in the career of a once in a lifetime greyhound. Firstly, to the Franklin family for their excellent breeding and rearing operation (incidentally, Baker Boy’s dam What A Diva threw Derby winner Priceless Blake in a later litter to Laughil Blake), to the tried and tested training regime that Phil Naylor has in place at his kennel, and which regularly sees its inhabitants achieve race totals well into three figures, and last but not least the unbreakable bond that Baker Boy has with devoted kennelhand Damian Parsons, and there is a spot on Damian’s sofa reserved for Baker Boy when he tells Damian that the time is right. Tom and Julie Ridley’s Charter Serina, whose picture adorned several local billboards around ten years ago promoting greyhound racing in the community, holds the Perry Barr record at 217 races. Clearly, Baker Boy has that in his sights.