Perry Barr has settled back into its regular ‘BAGS heavy’ routine since the Sky televised final of the 2017 William Hill St Leger.

Racing manager Martin Seal said: “On balance, I thought the competition was a great success. We were blessed with a strong entry across the board, and the Irish raiders Airmount Tess and Jaytee Patriot added further lustre to an already sparkling stake.

“The 710m trip was contentious in some quarters, requiring both speed and stamina, but gave us competitive racing and minimal trouble throughout the whole competition.

We had a thoroughly deserving winner in John Clarke’s Rubys Rascal, who showed all the qualities needed to be crowned champion stayer. Credit indeed to champion trainer Mark Wallis for his handling of the tough-as-teak black. What a dog he’s been for connections.

“My thanks are also extended to William Hill for their sponsorship and hopefully everyone enjoyed what has been an absorbing competition. Fingers crossed, the William Hill St Leger will return to Perry Barr in 2018 for the next instalment of a race with a wonderful history. The St Leger has a new home now and we will make every effort to take the competition from strength to strength.”

Business is booming at the Aldridge Road circuit as Christmas approaches. The Grandstand Restaurant is full to capacity most Saturdays with punters enjoying both the quality and quantity of the track’s Christmas Menu. The recently introduced Sunday afternoon Roast Dinner Menu is also proving very popular with bookings increasing week on week.

As in previous years, the track will be open on Boxing Day morning (doors open 10.00am) to facilitate our BAGS fixture and restaurant diners will be able to take advantage of our great value three course Boxing Day Brunch whilst enjoying the racing. Tables for all dates may be booked by calling the Booking Centre on 0870 840 7411.

On the racing front, November saw the retirement of popular handler Bob Hannan. This was Bob’s second stint at Perry Barr, sandwiching a period at Hall Green, but the main part of Bob’s career saw him train a shedload of winners at local track Oxford.

Seal said: “The majority of Bob’s dogs were spread out between a few Perry Barr trainers, with Simon Deakin taking on a good number and Carol Evans now training Hannan’s Balintor Brave x Dirty Deed Feb 16 litter of pups. Always a gentleman, we wish Bob and partner Kath a long and happy retirement.”

Racing strength numbers are healthy as the year draws to a close, with almost all of the ex-Hall Green trainers now showing good numbers. Accordingly, Saturday night open races have been put on the back burner and the racing office are now able to devote all our attention to the burgeoning graded strength.

The Trainer of the Year title is, as always, proving to be a tight contest with a number of contenders. Taking into account those contract trainers that have been at the track for the whole year and based on strike rate, less than 1% separates Sue Newberry, John Lambe, Pete Holland and Shirley Aveline.

Martin Seal’s reviews recent racing

Pat Doocey’s veteran Romeo Treaty rolled back the years to take a competitive A1 at the Barr last Saturday. The Apr 13 black belied his age to finish strongly and take the top grade contest a shade cosily. Photo: Steve Nash

“Owner Trainer Gary Johnson went to 3200gns at the recent Sheffield sales to acquire Fast Rio after the talented bitch puppy had clocked 29.10, the second fastest time of the day. Fast Rio qualified in 28.88 at Shelbourne and 28.75 at the Barr and is unbeaten in two races, a heat of the Red Mills Future Champion Unraced at Enniscorthy and a 450m Puppy open at Doncaster.

“Her damline is pure Pat Dalton, tracing back through the aeroplane that was Airport Express all the way to the great Maythorn Pride. Class is clearly permanent.

“To finish, recent hat trick scorers at the Barr include Gerry Ballentine’s March puppy Drahbeg Dior (A6, A5 & A4), Gary Elwell’s in-form bitch Wicky Jo (A4 x 2 & A3), and Paul Meek’s June puppy Carastown (A9 & A8 x 2).

“Pat Doocey’s Knockard James went one better and has now won his last four sprints (D3 & D2 x 3). Well done to all concerned.”