BAGS’ announcement of the 2016 Track Championship details will unleash a burst of enthusiasm among owners, trainers and racing offices writes Floyd Amphlett.
Now in its sixth running, the annual inter-track has grown year on year to the point that it sits just behind the Greyhound Derby as one of the highlights of the racing year.
(Even the most lethargic racing offices – and there are many – tend to raise their game as the Track Championship approaches)
There are a few tweaks to the rules, the most notable being the introduction of the Elite Standard, basically a race open to the each track’s leading middle distance open racer, providing they have contested five graded races for that track during their careers.
Other changes include rules to disqualify any runners who fail dope tests, with their points deducted, plus a rule to prevent changing of dogs between kennels once the event is underway.
This year, Henlow and reigning champs Towcester have come through qualifiers as non-BAGS tracks.
Organiser Scott Harvey said: “I know Henlow are very keen to make a big impression and Towcester will be in everyone’s sights. You also get some great local rivalries: Hall Green against Monmore promises to be interesting. There are some other tracks, they know who they are, who made very little effort last year, even to win their home legs. Hopefully that won’t happen again.”
BAGS chairman Dominic Ford added: “We are delighted to be sponsoring the only team event in Greyhound Racing. We have been able to increase the overall level of prize money by £21,000 compared to last year. We hope this attracts as much interest from trainers and owners as we have had in the previous years.”
Four regional groups of five tracks will take on each other in a series of qualifying events, with the winner in each group going through to the Grand Finals. The two highest scoring runners-up from the group stage will also take their place in the decider.
Each track will stage one qualifying match in their group, consisting of seven races. Each visiting team will supply one runner in every qualifying race, while the home side will field two runners.
The qualifying events will comprise of a sprint, one standard race for dogs, bitches and one unrestricted, plus the new Elite Standard for open class dogs, a youngsters race, and one stayers race. Each qualifying event will therefore consist of seven races.
At the end of the group stage, the highest points-scoring team in each group will go through to compete in the Grand Finals, along with the two highest scoring runners-up.
Similar to last year, Track Championship Finals Day will comprise 10 events, two staying races, two standard races each for dogs and bitches, one unrestricted, the Elite Standard, plus one sprint and one youngsters race. Each race will again be worth £1,000 to the winner.
Points are scored 10, 7, 5, 3, 2 and 1 in order of finish. Each home team will field two greyhounds per qualifying race, and collect points from each. Heats are worth £300 to the winner, runner-up £100, others £75.
The Grand Finals on Friday December 23rd will be run at a neutral venue and be televised live on Sky Sports in a three and half hour show on a day when there is no UK horse racing.
|Sunderland||Tuesday, September 13th||(AFT)|
|Belle Vue||Wednesday, October 5th||(AFT)|
|Newcastle||Saturday, October 22nd||(AFT)|
|Kinsley||Sunday, November 13th||(AFT)|
|Sheffield||Tuesday, November 29th||(EVE)|
|Crayford||Thursday September 8th||(PM)|
|Romford||Thursday September 29th||(PM)|
|Hove||Friday October 14th||(PM)|
|Poole||Saturday November 5th||(PM)|
|Sittingbourne||Saturday November 26th||(EVE)|
|Nottingham||Monday September 19th||(EVE)|
|Peterborough||Saturday October 8th||(EVE)|
|Doncaster||Friday October 21st||(EVE)|
|Yarmouth||Monday November 7th||(EVE)|
|Henlow||Sunday, November 27th||(EVE)|
|Towcester||Friday September 9th||(EVE)|
|Swindon||Friday September 23rd||(AM)|
|Perry Barr||Sunday October 9th||(PM)|
|Monmore||Monday October 31st||(PM)|
|Hall Green||Monday November 21st||(AM)|
Each race in the qualifying events will be worth £300 to the winner. An additional 10 per cent of all prize money from the qualifying rounds and Finals will be paid to trainers, and this is in addition to the existing prize fund.
The Group winners prize money stands at £3,000, with runners-up receiving £2,000, third £1,000. Team purses are split among trainers at the discretion of the racing manager.
The overall winning team will scoop £15,000 to be split between winning trainers and the track. Runners up collect £10,000, the team finishing third £7,500 third. There is now extra prize money for the other places finalists, with the team finishing fourth receiving £4,000, fifth £2,000 and last £1,000.
Total value of the competition, including prize money, trophies, travel allowances etc, will be in the region of £250,000. SIS will again share the cost of staging this valuable event with BAGS.