For the first time that I can remember, there seems to be a ‘feel good’ factor in greyhound racing at the moment.
The announcement this week that Ladbrokes Coral are to pay money from their internet betting is brilliant news. Hopefully the others have run out of excuses not to pay.
We have fresh memories of a fantastic first Derby at Towcester and the arrival on the GBGB board of Pete Harnden and Paul Ephremsen is huge progress. Paul is one of my oldest friends and I think a lot of people are beginning to realise just how much he can bring to the game.
Then of course, there is the new MD of the Greyhound Board, Mark Bird. Mark came to visit us some time ago. When you talk to him, he actually listens and takes your views on board. He doesn’t fit into the old stereotype of just looking to hammer the trainers and assume they are all at it.
Several trainers have mentioned to me how the tone of the recent stewards inquiries seem to have changed. I think he is the man to take the sport forward.
Two of our kennel stars are winding down to their final races. The plan is for Calco Flyer and Clondoty Alex to hopefully have another couple of races with their final event being the Front Runner TV Seniors Cup at Henlow later this month.
Flyer is off to live with Ben Moyle, a member of the syndicate who won him. Alex will be living with a friend of the three owners. We also recently said goodbye to our St Leger winner Ferryforth Fran. He went home with owner Allan Morton and is a big loss to the kennel, a real favourite.
Fran loved his racing and was a real handful at the track, but back at the kennels he was a real character. But when Alan turned up, he jumped into the back of the estate car and hasn’t looked back. He settled in straight away, and with living with another couple of pets, who aren’t greyhounds, and is absolutely loving life. They have sent me some lovely photos.
We have probably had about 15 retire recently. Around half we have re-homed ourselves. The others have gone through Kevin a the Lincolnshire RGT and I have never seen a slicker operation. No sooner do you contact them than they have a home lined up.
On the racing side, we have had a fairly average few weeks and out attempt at Linda Mullins’ record of 364 winners seems to be over. We are well off the pace at this stage.
Of the older dogs, Roswell Romanov has had a problem with a dew claw which was removed after he was beaten in the semi final of the Champion Stakes. Rubys Rascal hasn’t been at his best but is showing signs of better and defends his title at Doncaster in the St.Leger.
His sister Rubys Razzle has also been short of her best but looks as though she is coming back to form. In fact, we whole kennel seems to be on a slight upturn with four graded winners at each of the last couple of meetings.
Looking forward, we hope to have Bruisers Bullet trialling back at the end of the month. He picked up a TFL injury and although it wasn’t serious, we have him the extra time on his bed. He is really next year’s dog but it would be nice to get one more competition into him this year and the Eclipse is on the agenda.
We also have a string of new young dogs including three for Robert Brinkley. Perhaps the best known is Brinkleys Rosie, who was called Monrose when she won the Puppy Oaks at Shelbourne. The other two are Brinkleys Twirl and Ranger. We have an absolute plethora of exciting young dogs at the moment.
Finally, I would like to wish the best of luck to Ricjard Hanikanai in next week’s Steel City Cup Final.
Ricjard has done brilliantly well with Cappoquin Jack since he left us. Ricjard was one of the first to take out one of the new owner trainer licences and has shown what can be achieved. He has kept in touch and I have offered the best advice I could when he has asked for it.
Learning is part of being a trainer and I will still seek the advice of other trainers if I am struggling with a problem. You can often learn better or quicker ways to do things.
I would love to see the industry call on the expertise of retired trainers much more. While the stipendiary stewards might concentrate on the kennels and facilities, people like Linda (Jones, former champion trainer), with years of experience, could advise on a variety of issues and problems relating to the dogs.
There are plenty of former top trainer who would be only too glad to put their knowledge to good use.