The first month of Perry Barr’s new race schedule (Monday, Thursday and Saturday mornings, Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon) under the TRP banner is already past us and things are starting to settle down.
It’s a challenging schedule for all concerned, staff, trainers, kennelhands and bookmakers, but everyone has put their weight behind it and with a steady racing strength around the 440 mark, most dogs are getting regular runs.
On the trainer front, two faces have been offered, and accepted, training contracts as due reward for their hard work and commitment to the Aldridge Road venue.
Pat Doocey has been a familiar face at Perry Barr for many years, chiefly as an owner, but has upgraded his Walsall kennel over the last 12 months and now has a strength of ten, a good proportion of which consists of the offspring of his Swift Hoffman x Marinas Puma June 16 litter.
Hoffman’s exploits are well documented but Marinas Puma was a standard bearer at Perry Barr for the late Steve Donnelly, winning a host of top grade contests with her lightning early pace. Her Hoffman litter have looked the part from the word go, showing willing attitudes and abundant reserves of stamina. Most of them will surely make the step up to six bends at some point in 2018, and will certainly continue to give Pat a good bit of sport.
Wisbech based James Turner has only been attached to Perry Barr since October, but has settled in well, quickly building a varied kennel strength of ten with several new owners, and has impressed all with his professionalism and attention to detail.
Stints as a kennelhand with John Simpson at Catford and Wimbledon, and latterly David Pruhs at Peterborough laid the foundations for his new role, having taken over the training licence from his mother Ann Brandon in 2017. Ann now assists with the running of the kennel as well playing an important role for the East Anglia branch of the Greyhound Trust. James has ambitions to expand his kennel further over the coming years, and continued success looks likely for this likeable young man.
Lee Field has been an owner for many years with both Paul Sallis and Pat Rosney, and decided to take out his OT licence in 2017 to gain further experience handling and preparing his own greyhounds. It has been a steep learning curve for Lee, but things are falling into place now with new premises in Mansfield, a GT licence in the bag, and Holycross Avril and Fernhill Rex running well for the kennel in open races at Monmore and Sheffield. Lee’s kennel strength currently stands at seven, and he deserves credit for the time and money he has spent establishing his operation.
On the racing front, those trainers who enjoyed purple patches towards the end of 2017 have carried that good form over to the New Year, with several charges running up sequences.
Pride of place goes to Leathems Bolt, owned by Ann Holland and trained by husband Pete, who has been keeping one step ahead of the handicapper, racking up a four timer with two victories apiece in A3 and A2. The early paced black always runs his heart out.
The Shirley Aveline owned and trained Overdale Charlie is rarely out of the frame in his races and managed to notch a hat-trick around the turn of the year, with a brace in A8 plus an A7, longest winning distance half a length. He continues to be a player for all forecast pools.
The final word today goes to one of the track’s unsung heroes, or heroine in this case, in the guise of the Neil Slowley trained Arties Sister, a Nov 12 daughter of Head Bound. Owned by Neil’s father Carl, Arties Sister has taken part in 98 races as we go to press, posting 25 wins and 28 seconds, a highly commendable record.
Arties Sister spent the first six months of her UK career over the Barr’s 480m trip, rising from A7 to A2, but after a minor indiscretion one evening, Neil decided to restrict the 31kg bitch’s appearances to graded sprints, and it’s fair to say she has carved out a successful ‘second’ career in this discipline, frequently punching above weight and proving as durable as a lot of her sire’s progeny.