By Martin Seal (racing manager)
Saturday night open racing will return to Perry Barr in August with a variety of weekly contests to boost the racing strength which has been under a little bit of pressure in recent weeks to maintain the track’s busy BAGS schedule. The move will certainly please a number of Midlands based trainers who enjoy sending their charges to the Aldridge Road venue. Full details will appear in the GBGB Calendar shortly. I have had enquiries from a couple of trainers wishing to join Perry Barr but will see how the next few weeks pan out before deciding whether or not to recruit.
Trainer of the Year
As we pass the halfway mark, the Trainer of the Year contest is warming up nicely with several faces in contention for the prize. After a quiet May, John Lambe bounced back with a profitable June and currently leads the standings with a six monthly strike rate of 20.30%. In hot pursuit, however, is Jayne Meek with 20.25%, having enjoyed a consistent year to date. Reigning champ Sue Newberry occupies third place on 19.66%, with Carol Evans, Pat Doocey, Bill Russell and Derek Davy in close attendance.
Dog and Bitch of the Year
Having trawled through the entire racing strength, I’m pleased to report there are any number of hounds in contention to give themselves a chance of lifting either the Dog or Bitch of the Year trophies. Currently tied at the top of the Dog of the Year standings with 8 wins apiece are Simon Deakin’s Blazeaway James and Pete Holland’s Leathems Bolt. Snapping at their heels with 7 wins are Simon Cull’s Harwell Blue, James Danahar’s Rocky Dee, Pete Holland’s Kristoff and Phil Naylor’s diminutive Baker Boy. For the ladies, Carol Evans’ Chaotic Kate leads the way with 8 wins, closely followed on 7 by Shirley Aveline’s in-form Ballymac Augusta, Derek Davy’s Cefn Carys and Simon Deakin’s Borntobefast.
It’s the end of an era with the recent retirement of Phil Naylor’s Geneva Billy following a gracilis injury earlier this month. Whilst not the worst injury of its kind, retirement beckons for the April ’12 son of Crash x Newline Honey who has acquired a large fan club since he arrived at the Midlands venue. Geneva Billy has proved an admirable servant to both Phil and Perry Barr and it’s fair to say his type don’t come around too often. His stats read a magnificent 198 races – around 50 miles? – showing 32 wins, and his catch-me-if-you-can tactics at the end of his races give rise to a further lap afterwards, either unaccompanied or with some equally mischievous competitors in tow. By a strange twist of fate, Billy’s first trial at Perry Barr was on 16th July 2013, and his final race was on 16th July 2018, exactly five years later. A wonderful character and undoubtedly a local legend, a presentation befitting his achievement will take place shortly, once Billy has made a full recovery.