I was away on holiday when the news broke about the planned re-opening of Towcester. It was the best news I had heard in a while, albeit there have been a few people on my case about it.
When the place closed, we were owed in the region of £16K in prize money and somewhere in the region of £8-9K in trainers bonuses and other bits and pieces. I made a statement saying that I would never go back, and a few people are suggesting I have made a u-turn.
I would have thought that there would be a implied implication of ‘under the current ownership‘. I don’t see it being any different from falling out with a pub landlord. If he left and there was a new landlord, would there be any point in boycotting a building? Well that is how I see it.
Although we have a full kennel, we lost roughly 20% of our owners within a month of Towcester closing and they have never been replaced. I own a lot of our dogs myself, and that is never a good business model. You own 20 dogs and two have career ending injuries and you can’t break even.
Since the announcement was made, some of the old owners have already been in touch, and just this week we had an enquiry from a new owner who wants a dog ready for March next year.
I think Kevin Boothby will make a success of Towcester; he performed miracles just to keep Henlow open during the dark times. Apart from its greyhound credentials – I think the second Derby was probably the best since White City – Towcester has such huge potential as a venue.
I remember going there on Saturday mornings when they had fairs taking place and the place was rammed. They had a variety of events, country fairs, food fairs, beer and wine festivals.
And I am not talking hundreds of people, I mean many many thousands.
No matter what happens at Towcester, the one track that I will always continue to support is Monmore.
We have been running dogs in their ‘Festival’ races since they first started and they have really grown in stature in the last couple of months. But it is more than that.
They are the most obliging group of people you could ever come across. Nothing is too much trouble. The track is in great order and I love going there. If it was an hour closer, it is the one track I would love to be attached to.
In my opinion, it is the best track in Britain at the moment.
This time last year, I can remember saying in this column that we were in major transition and I didn’t know where the good dogs were coming from.
We are in a very much better place now and I would say we are actually in a great place for 2020. We have all bases covered, my only wish would be for two more top class middle dogs. Hopefully we can have them in place by February.
There is still plenty of play for starting with the RPGTV St.Leger which starts on Saturday. We have four runners entered, and with respect to the rest, it would be dishonest not to admit to Antigua Fire being our first string.
He is in great form and everything about Perry Barr should suit him more than the others, in particular, the 710 metres. He only failed by a head to qualify for the Yorkshire Leger final and is up against the winner of the competition, Droopys Live on Saturday. Our other runners are Brigadier Bullet, Bumblebee Bullet and Avastorm.
I was thrilled that Swindon have gone ahead with the Oaks, despite not having a sponsor, and still coming up with an excellent first prize.
I expect we will have a few in it, including Milestone Gem who Karol Ramsbottom is sending over from Ireland. But I confess that I am really sweet on our own bitch, Antigua Sands.
So far, she has shown glimpses of great ability but not really got it all together. If she can, I think she has a very decent chance of showing how good she really is. At the moment she is in season and the size of a house – around 32kg – but we will slim her down and she is should be in good shape by the time the competition gets underway.
Before then we have the Coral Essex Vase and I hope that Aaymza Express can pick up from where she left off in the Champion Stakes.
She is having a break at the moment which is why she wasn’t entered in the Leger. Basically, the Doncaster race, including the re-run, took a lot out of her. If she comes back fresh, she will be among the leading fancies I would have thought.
Antigua Breeze ran a cracker at Monmore last week and will be back there for the Ladbrokes Trafalgar Cup later in November.
We will see how he progresses – I don’t like to plan too far ahead with pups – but I may take him to Newcastle for the Alconex Puppy Derby in December.
Newcastle reminds me of Walthamstow in many ways. The straights are long, the bends are tight and you need a couple of looks to run the place.
I am sure there will be plenty of good local pups in it, but Steve Anderson has made such an effort that I think he deserves as much support as possible and I may take a few along.