At the end of last year I wrote in this column that I would be easing up on my open race commitments to concentrate on Towcester.
I also said I would only support those tracks who commit to certain standards of prize money. I think I have been true to my word and that is reflected on the open race table.
Last week I was a couple of points behind Patrick (Janssens) and we both have runners in the Golden Jacket Final.
I don’t know things will stand in a week’s time but until February 18th, we had only sent out 62 open race runners. By February 21st last year, that figure was 149.
Although a lot of punters think we have dozens of open racers, we actually only have about ten, half of which could be graded at Towcester.
The new regime is working pretty well though it can be frustrating when you can’t get races for the dogs.
I suppose this week we had around ten dogs who are in the upper grades who didn’t get a run. Although they might only be A2/A3 at Towcester, most would win opens at other tracks.
I did enter some of them at other tracks – those with decent prize money – and they didn’t fill. But I won’t ask the owners to subsidise those tracks who don’t pay well enough.
We have one runner through to the semi finals of the Springbok – Swift Dartmoor – and another – – Parkers Dynamite – who was eliminated.
Thankfully we can get races for them back at Towcester. As part of our contracts, the bigger kennels are committed to supplying two hurdlers and the track are already running two graded hurdles races per week.
I think the variety in racing is an excellent idea and I look forward to there being five or six hurdle races every week.
We have won the last six Peter Bussey Memorials and will hoping for a magnificent seven on Tuesday night.
I imagine John Mullins will have other ideas with three runners of his own, and Dean Childs with Droopys Jester.
In truth most of our winners have been just short of top top class but winning a decent ‘Cat 2’ is no mean achievement.
I think both of our runners this year have the potential to step up to that higher level.
Ninja Penny is a young bitch who only has nine races with us and ran very well to reach the final after missing her break.
She just might get it right on the night and if she did come out clear, I don’t think anything will catch her. Win or lose, I can see further improvement particularly over the slightly longer distances.
I mentioned Saleen Ash in this column last autumn as being the dog with the potential to join some of our best short-six-benders.
He has done nothing wrong so far, and quite honestly, I think he has a great chance in the final.