Four major talking points of the first round of the 2019 Alconex All England Cup first round:
1) Bramble Reggie clocked the fastest 480 of the year with a 28.22 run, though the night was tinged sadness with the probable career ending injury for kennelmate Bramble Milburn.
2) The three fastest winners were within six spots of each other
3) On a mixed night for Angela Harrison, there was a winning double, plus a surprise defeat for Velvet Juliet and shock eliminations for Droopys Pilot and Droopys Trapper.
4) The semi final draw – see below – produced a line-up (2nd semi) “that would be better than a Derby Final”
Thursday’s semi finals proved a real bitter-sweet experience for Steve Anderson. The ‘Bramble’ trainer enjoyed the thrill of seeing ‘Reggie’ clock the fastest time of the night, but then be brought down to earth by the injury to ‘Milburn’.
He said: “Milburn was well clear – he did the fastest sectional of the night – and had the race won until the injury. It is a strain at the base of the gracilis. We still don’t know how bad it is, but it doesn’t look good. I had him in the kitchen at 4am this morning, icing his leg and watching TV together.
“But at least we still have him. He has done so well to come back from an illness that nearly killed him about 18 months ago. All his organs started shutting down and he needed a blood transplant. But thankfully he pulled through. We have already had enquiries about him today including someone who wants to use him at stud.
“I was really delighted with Reggie. I whelped him down at home and we sent them over to Rachel Wheeler to rear. But in hindsight I really should have registered the litter as British bred.
“Every one of the litter (8) made it and are A2, A1 or open class. Since the sire Zero Ten is no longer around, we have recently had the dam Bramble Isolbel (Westmead Hawk-Ballymac Vicky) mated to Magical Bale.”
Anderson is connected with three companies who are committed to supporting four events at the track this year including the Cat One All England Cup and Northern Puppy Derby. Both are sponsored by Alconex. It is a sharp turnaround for a man who had handed in his notice last year.
He said: “I was very unhappy with the way things were going. I was fed up at how the stadium was run and how my dogs were being graded and was prepared to give the game up. But the track asked me to reconsider because changes were being made, and my family also persuaded me to give ARC a chance.
“I am glad I did because they have completely turned the place around. There have been some changes of staff and the whole atmosphere is different. The place was absolutely buzzing for an owners and trainers meeting last weekend, there must have been a thousand people through the gates.
“I said at the time that if changes were made, I would do my best to help. So I called four friends in from the building trade and the sponsorship has been shared by three companies.
“But even then I said to ARC that there wasn’t enough value for the sponsors in simply running the races. They have responded by giving all kinds of additional benefits including complimentary boxes at Sedgefield and Newcastle races. I really can’t speak highly enough of ARC in general and David Williamson in particular.”
So fingers crossed for next week’s semi finals?
Anderson replied: “Have you seen that second semi final? It would be better than a Derby Final! Two will qualify, though there would be no disgrace in not making it through in that company.”
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