Perry Barr Dog of the Year for 2018 is the Phil Naylor owned and trained Baker Boy. The diminutive blue actually finished the year as runner up in respect of number of wins in the dogs category at Perry Barr, but I feel there are a couple of other features which elevate him to the top spot. Unraced in Ireland, Baker Boy, a Droopys Scolari x What A Diva Sept ’14 whelp, made his race debut at Perry Barr in February 2016 and has just completed an unbroken sequence of 145 consecutive races, that’s all in less than 3 years.

He has never had to retrial for any reason and to the best of my knowledge, has never been reported lame, an extraordinary achievement, and testament to both Baker Boy’s toughness and Phil’s handling of his kennel star. Baker Boy’s career record reads 30 wins and 39 seconds from 145 races, with his 2018 stats as 13 wins from 50 races (26%). And all this from a dog weighing less than 29kg. Such durability and consistency combined are rare qualities indeed.

Perry Barr Bitch of the Year for 2018 is the Simon Deakin owned and trained Rustys Aero. Rusty kicked off her Barr career in February, with an April season following a couple of A8 victories. After that break, the black and white pocket rocket never looked back, her early pace endearing her to punters and always putting her in with a chance over both two bends and four. Her 2018 stats read 11 wins from 40 races, at a strike rate of over 27%.

Perry Barr Trainer of the Year for 2018 is Pat Doocey. As usual, it was a close fought battle amongst the track’s contract trainers. Lynn Short, John Lambe and Jayne Meek set a furious pace in the first half of the year, with Pat lying handy enough. Longacres Puma (10 wins), veteran Knockard James (9 wins) and sprinter Double Or Quits (6 wins) provided regular success and the progeny of a Kinloch Brae x Hather Kim June ’17 litter all made rapid strides, showcasing the quality of their rearing and schooling. Pat, along with trusty kennelhand Adam Hingley, operates a small, select kennel in Walsall and the occupants’ performances underline the benefits of the set up.

1st Pat Doocey – 334 runners 73 winners 21.86%

2nd Sue Newberry – 343 runners 72.5 winners 21.14%

3rd James Turner – 484 runners 102 winners 21.07%

4th John Lambe – 613 runners 117 winners 19.09%

5th Jayne Meek – 606 runners 113.5 winners 18.73%

6th Lynn Short – 381 runners 71 winners 18.64%

Perry Barr Kennelhand of the Year for 2018 is Tracey Baker (Simon Deakin kennels). Like a large number of kennelhands in the sport, a lot of Tracey’s work is carried out behind the scenes, caring for and preparing the greyhounds in her charge to race week in, week out. Tracey attends the vast majority of Perry Barr’s five race meetings each week, which is demanding enough on its own, and does most of the driving as well. However, there is another reason which adds value to Tracey’s nomination for this award. Back on 22nd March of this year, Perry Barr trainer Bob Stanton suffered a heart attack at the wheel of his van whilst driving home from that day’s BAGS meeting. Paramedics did sterling work to keep Bob in the land of the living and he spent some time in the Queen Elizabeth Hospital as part of his recovery. Bob’s van was pretty badly damaged and was recovered to a garage for assessment, at which time it was discovered that there were greyhounds in the back. Simon Deakin’s kennels are not too far from Bob’s and although by this time it was late in the day, Tracey volunteered to drive to the garage and collect Bob’s dogs, taking them back to the Deakin range for checking and feeding. All dogs checked out fine other than the odd scratch and were fully assessed by a Vet the next day. We are all required to go above and beyond the call of duty at some point in our lives, and this was one occasion when Tracey had no hesitation in stepping up to the plate.

On the racing front, our trainer roster thinned out a little over the course of the year, with the count now standing at 53, comprising Professional, Greyhound and Owner Trainers. I have eight further names interested in coming on board should the opportunity arise. Phil Naylor (Burntwood, Staffs) and Ross Williams (Tredegar, Gwent) have both been awarded training contracts to start the year, in recognition of their hard work and professionalism. The racing strength has been comfortably north of 400 for some time now.

The staging of the St Leger attracted a lot of press coverage, both positive and negative, with the competition serving up some thrilling racing, final night in particular producing a cracking atmosphere. My thanks are once again extended to all owners and trainers who took part. When you receive positive feedback from the likes of John Mullins, Hazel Kemp, Phil Simmonds and Darren Holmes, it goes a long way to repaying the hard work put in by everyone involved. I am sure the 2019 St Leger, with the sponsorship of RPGTV, will prove equally, if not more successful.

GM Martin Fennings: “In fairly trying circumstances in 2018 we actually managed to uphold our expected trading levels and certainly finished the year with a flourish. The long hot summer and England’s unexpected good run in the World Cup certainly had an effect, but targeted marketing definitely helped in reducing the impact. We are hopeful of a bit of stability this year and I sincerely wish all our trainers and owners continued success through 2019.”