I have read and heard a lot of opinions about Nottingham as a Derby venue and have been asked for mine, which I am happy to give.
We have had a reasonable amount of success there, we have run all our best dogs there, and I never miss the Nottingham opens every Monday as I regularly punt on them.
The one observation I would make about the Derby course is that it gets harder for the wide runners the faster the going. If we use Dorotas Wildcat as the benchmark, if the track is in the condition that means he can record 29.20, I don’t think there is a wide runner in the country that can beat him.
It isn’t just him of course, but greyhound people can relate to him and his times. I am referring to those early paced slick breaking railers who do fast times on the top of the going. The wider runners simply can’t get across at the bend.
I don’t know what ‘normal’ should be for the Derby trip, but to be a level playing field, I would suggest the best dogs in the country should be doing around 29.50.
I am not talking through my pocket on any of this, and our dogs would generally be better suited by the track running fast. But that is how I see it.
As a venue though, it is absolutely top grade, run by top grade people and I think it will be an exceptional Derby.
We have five Derby entries but the draws have been appalling including having Roxholme Jim and Dorotas Woo Hoo drawn next to each other.
If I had to pick a first string it would probably be Roxholme Jim who continues to progress with every outing. He has deliberately been kept up in weight though we will gradually reduce that.
Dorotas Woo Hoo continues to be treated from a long term dropped gracilis muscle. He is short of a run, though that has been done deliberately. It will be a touch competition and I don’t think it would help for him to be too far forward.
Roxholme Glory hasn’t been in the kennel for very long and is still not digesting his food to a point where he seems to have adapted. But bit by bit he is getting there. Ideally I would say that he would have been better off if the Derby started in a fortnight rather than a week, but we just have to get on with it.
Roxholme Butt, as everyone knows, is just fresh out of the competition at Yarmouth. There is little else to go for and I want him to keep ticking over. If he was to go out in the early stages, we would almost certainly switch him to the 680m competition that is running alongside the Derby.
Oi Oi Upenalty ruptured an Achiles Tendon in the semi finals last year and has had several setbacks, most recently a horrible laceration in the Henlow Maiden Derby for which she needed nine stitches. It has just been one thing after another.
The thing is, I have no doubt that she is the fastest bitch in training. Last year I gave her a two dog trial at Dunham against Hiya Butt. He went about six clear and she cruised up to him and beat him a head in a time well inside the track record.
But that is her. You could put her in an A6 at Henlow and she would be beaten a head, and then run her against Dorotas Wildcat and she would run him to a photo finish. Despite her kinks, she is probably the fastest middle distance bitch we’ve had here, and we’ve had a few decent ones.
As for the Derby overall, I think we have a pretty strong team and if anyone wanted to lay me a decent price about Hayley having a dog in the final I would would be prepared to bet big on it.
The big one who is missing is obviously Roxholme Nidge but we came so close to getting him back from a shoulder injury.
I have no doubt that he could have run this weekend, and possibly won or qualified. The injury has now healed, but he hasn’t been off a lead for four weeks. We wanted to give him a sprint trial last week but there was still some fluid on the joint.
After everything that dog has gone through, it would have been cruel to run him. You can’t abuse dogs like that. We have withdrawn five runners from Category One finals in cases where we didn’t think it was in the dog’s best interests to run and I have never regretted one of those decisions.
If all goes to plan, we will probably head for Sunderland and then possibly Yarmouth after that.
On the subject of injuries, Roxholme Hat is due to be checked over today after recovering from a hairline fracture in his wrist. It all looks good so fingers crossed.
We still haven’t decided where Roxholme Poppy will run next. The obvious option is the 680 competition at Nottingham, though she hasn’t taken to the track in the past so I am keeping our options open.
We are planning that when Poppy comes into season we will have her mated to Hiya Butt and have a British bred litter here.
Before we went to Ireland, Hayley had great success with her rearing with 32 of her 37 pups winning opens. We haven’t bred anything in a while because you need to have the staff to do it properly. We are now in that position and have some very decent bitches to choose from including Roxholme Dream, Roxholme Magic, Forest Twilight and Roxholme Hottie.
Hottie’s first litter (by Droopys Cain) are only September pups but a couple of them are already running in A2 at Nottingham and Doncaster.