Fearsome Phantom will be our third runner in a Coral Regency winner and I would love to big a big final at my favourite track. We have won a few smaller finals, but this would be the ultimate.
It is 280 miles from home to Hove and on Wednesday it will be our fourth journey. We took Phantom for a trial before the competition and it was very worthwhile. The way I view it, if we are travelling once, let’s hope we are travelling another three times.
Phantom has won two heats and £550 in prize money, and already more than covered his expenses. It is £500 for finishing last in the final, which is outstanding compared to virtually every other competition. The Hove management deserve great credit and it is only right that they have such a fantastic final, full of quality from one to six.
I understand that Mark (Wallis) is a bit luke warm on his chances, but he is still the one to beat. Mark is as good a trainer of stayers as I have ever seen and they invariably perform on the big nights. But I certainly wouldn’t write off our lad’s chances. He needs a break in all senses of the word because he can really go to the bend when he gets it right. He was desperately unlucky when bombing away in the Henlow Leger final and was clipped when taking the lead.
He also showed at Nottingham that when he leads, even Rubys Rascal can’t catch him. Apart from anything else, he zigzags across the track and is a very difficult dog to get past once in front.
At the weekend, we have the RPGTV Scottish Derby Final to look forward to. I can see a lot of similarities with the Hove race, the draw for the final has really evened up the final.
I really couldn’t ask for a better draw for our runner Azzurri Genesis. On all known form he has plenty to make up on the five and six. He still hasn’t broken 29.00 for the 480 metres and the two market leaders are well inside it. But this is dog racing, you don’t get paid for times, you get paid to beat five other dogs. If Genesis cracks out, like he did in his trials, I can promise he will make them all go. In my opinion, he has sub 29.00 ability to the third bend and at Shawfield we saw last year, that it can be enough. It is a hard track to come from behind in the later stages.
The one thing I will absolutely guarantee is that he will run his heart out. I wish every dog in the kennel had been born with his determination, he never gives up.
We also have runners in the puppy event and the 500. We have won the puppy race for the last two years with Newinn Champ and Vatican Gurkha and our hopes rest with The Other Reg. He has been messing around and turning around in the traps and it cost him in the opening heat. He managed to lead but Calico Ranger caught him like he had been shot.
We did a lot of work at home with him before the semi finals and he was better, and we he has been through the traps at home plenty of times this week to get him into good habits. We will need to be at our absolute best to beat Calico Ranger who looks exceptional, but the puppy races can normally be won in around 29.00, and Reg is more than capable of that.
The 500 final is even more competitive with very little between the six in it. Our runner Cuba Libre is a bit frustrating because he has been trapping very badly and having to do it the hard way. His long term future is as a stayer but if he comes away in anything like he did in his last race in Ireland, he would have a major chance.