The British Bred Puppy Cup Final takes place at Owlerton Stadium, Sheffield, this evening and it is a race full of quality and unlimited potential for the months and years ahead.
Liz and Rab McNair along with Brendan Keogh and the KSS Syndicate have taken British breeding by storm over the past few years.
Nick Savva for many years set the standard that all British breeders and trainers aspired to reach, at a time when Nick deservedly started taking his foot off the gas a little, it was the McNair team who stepped forward.
Year after year they are breeding, rearing and training a whole host of top quality greyhounds. I know from speaking to Rab that he gets the ultimate buzz from watching his pups grow, from babies into fully fledged racing superstars. The team are doubly represented in tonight’s final by two of their May 2017 litter by Eden The Kid x Shaws Dilemma.
Lining up from trap 1 is Queen Swift. Swift was a little bit slower to come to hand than some of her litter comrades. In fact it wasn’t until the eighth time of asking that she finally managed to break her duck when winning an A3 at home track Central Park. That remained Swift’s sole win prior to heading into this competition without the benefit of a trial.
Though qualifying comfortably enough from her first round heat, finishing third, improvement looked to be needed if she was to progress beyond the semi final. That improvement came in spades, a much improved break saw her put up what looks to have been a career best effort when picking up long time leader Goldies Allen on the run in.
I spoke to Rab about this bitch and he told me “she’s got her draw in one, some people might have under rated this bitch a little so far, she’s heading the right way now though and improving with each run. I’m expecting a good run from what looks a good draw against the rail”.
Patrick Janssens has had a storming start to 2019 and he continues that form by reaching this final with the A J Pelley owned Goldies Allen (Kinloch Brae x Newinn This Way, July 2017).
Allen has just the one victory to his name in his short career so far, though it can surely not be too long before this pacy individual adds to that total.
Allen gained some valuable experience of the Owlerton track when competing in opens for the few weeks prior to this competition starting. He had a terrible draw to overcome in the first round, though showed his guts and determination to do so when grabbing that all important fourth and final qualifying slot.
Heading into the semi final, he again appeared to have an unfavourable draw, he trapped much better from trap 6 though and as the dogs inside him crowded, Allen skipped clear at the bend and looked set for victory.
That was however until Queen Swift swooped late to claim his scalp by 1/2 length. Can the move to a much more suitable trap 2 berth make the difference ? I spoke to Patrick Janssens and he told me “Goldies Allen is a very young dog from a very good litter.
“He’s actually still very green in his running, he runs all over the place at the minute and is still learning. Up until just a few weeks ago he was still running in A3 at Central Park. He’s showing me all the right signs though that he could mature into a dog that could be competing at the highest level.
“He’s a great temperament and is a pleasure to work with. He’ll need to take one of his best breaks to date to stand a chance here, if he does then he’ll have a chance, I do fear that he and his brother Saving Sonic are drawn the wrong way around though. It’s all good experience for him though, so whatever happens here, I’m hopeful for him in the future that he’ll turn into a real nice type”.
Lining up from trap 3 is Saving Sonic (Kinloch Brae x Newinn This Way, July 2017) for trainer John Mullins and owners the Saving Grace Syndicate.
Sonic is a litter mate to the aforementioned Goldies Allen drawn in trap 2. Beginning life in A4 at home track Yarmouth, it wasn’t long before he’d won A4, A3 and A2 at that venue.
He’d gained some valuable experience of this venue in a couple of opens around here prior to the competition starting and put that knowledge to excellent use when landing good market support when taking his first round heat from what looked a plot draw in trap 1.
He looked to be poorly drawn in his semi final, in trap 3 and with a runner in trap 2 who looked sure to move off, he did well to come from last place at the first bend to run on strongly and be beaten just 3/4 length in third behind Queen Swift and Goldies Allen.
John Mullins said “There is no doubting this dogs ability, he showed exactly what he could do in the first round of the competition and there is more to come. I thought he run well to qualify from what was undoubtedly a poor draw in his semi final. I’d have to say he isn’t perfectly drawn here, he’s a much better dog from a rails pitch.
“We’ve got what we’ve got though and hopefully he can come away and show what he’s capable of. Drawn trap 1 though I’d have been really confident in him. I think this is a real good class final, there are six excellent greyhounds on show and all are a credit to their connections”.
Unfortunately there was no antepost market made on the event, there is no doubting though that had there of been then tonight’s trap 4 runner, King Idol ( Eden The Kid x Shaws Dilemma, May 2017) would have headed the market.
The second representative for Liz, Rab, Brendan and the team is all class. A litter brother to Queen Swift, Idol started life off in top grade A1 at home track Central Park. Beaten on debut he received a swift down grade to A2.
Trapping out well, he made an absolute mockery of the opposition. Going further and further clear with each passing stride he eventually ran out a 6 1/4 length winner in a top class 2930 (-20).
Maiden open success around the same venue wasn’t long in arriving and after trialling well at Nottingham recently, he headed into this competition with live chances, despite not having trialled around the venue. Missing the break slightly in his first round heat, Idol soon paced up, in the end running out a five length winner in a fastest time of the of the competition so far of 2900 (normal). Odds of 1/5 in that race may have appeared skinny, but those looking to buy a 20% profit for less than 30 seconds work had little to worry about. Heading into his semi final he was available at double and more of his heat odds at 1/2. On paper he looked to have a less than perfect draw.
This proved to case, not getting the clearest of runs on the run up or around the opening turn, he had to put his class to good use along the back straight. Sailing past leader Fearsome Aria by half way, the result from that point never looked in doubt, even if Romeo Ruben reduced the deficit late to just 3/4 length. I again spoke to Rab and he told me “I’m happy with the draw, he’ll stay straight up from here and obviously holds a good chance. He’s come into the competition in good form, has a bit of class about him. That said this is a quality final, he’ll need to be at his best if he’s to win, but there will be no excuses, he’s fit, well and ready to do himself justice”.
Fearsome Aria (Geelo Vegas x Fearsome Dee, May 2017) runs from trap 5.
Bred, reared, trained and owned by chairman of the BGBF, Mr John Marriott, Aria started off life here at Sheffield in A7 grade in November 2018. Gaining plenty of experience since, moving through the grades, she is a bitch with excellent early pace and though she’s drawn a little wider than ideal, she could well set the pace upfront with a ping break.
Likely to need a little crowding in behind to hang on, she is however still improving, put up a career best effort last time out, and is no forlorn hope to land the spoils.
Last, but by absolutely no means least, is the second of the John Mullins trained representatives, Romeo Ruben (Romeo Impact x Fabulous Pin, June 2017).
Owned and bred by Dave Firmager, Ruben is yet to taste victory in his short career of just six races to date. Make no mistake though, this is a greyhound with plenty of talent and looks destined to become a six bend star of the future. Noted doing all of his best work late in his races to date, Ruben finished a never nearer 3/4 length second to King Idol in his semi final. Those with a good eye however will have continued watching after the line and what they will have seen was a greyhound who simply powered to the pick up, pulling well well clear with each passing stride. I spoke to trainer John Mullins and he told me “He seems to be the dog everybody is talking about, people seemed to be impressed with what they saw. I like him, I must admit, he looks like being a nice dog when he’s eventually stepped up in trip. That’s not to say he can’t win this final though, he looks to have a nice draw, hopefully he can hold his pitch to halfway and if doing so he should go close. As I said before though, this is a real good quality final and whoever ends up winning will deserve to have done so”.
Carl Perry, BGBF Secretary ahead of tonight’s final said “There was initially a slow uptake for the competition, with excellent prize money on offer, that’s obviously something we’ve got to look at moving forward.
“That said, though only attracting 18 competitors, it looked on paper to be a competition of really good quality, and a credit to British breeding. With just a couple of lengths separating the whole field, it’s a race where all connections have a chance of lifting the trophy and taking home the £4000 winners prize.
“I’d say this is the best line up we’ve seen overall for a British bred puppy cup final, it really is that good. Let’s hope that we can push on with this and the other British bred events, we’ve a real opportunity to showcase British breeding and to encourage owners and trainers that they don’t always have to look to Irish shores to find themselves a champion.
“In the current economic climate, the purchasing of dogs, particularly top class ones, is a very expensive business. Why not put that funding into breeding and rearing your own British bred litters, there is simply no feeling like it to have bred your own greyhounds and to see them grow into top class race dogs. I wish all sets of connections in tonight’s final the very best of luck”.
Dave Perry, Venue Director at Sheffield, was absolutely delighted with the quality of tonight’s final.
“We’re happy to host the BGBF British Bred Puppy Cup Final for what is the third successive year. The line up tonight is top class, not just from a British perspective, but these six greyhounds wouldn’t look out of place in any puppy final around the country.
“I hope seeing a final containing such quality gives supporters of the sport an incentive to get involved in breeding themselves. I’d like to wish all of the finalists and their connections the best of luck, I hope you all have a great night at Sheffield”.