It feels like the end of an era by having to announce the retirement of King Turbo.
I suspected the worst when I washed him off after Tuesday’s race but I wanted confirmation before withdrawing him from next week’s British Bred Derby semi finals at Sheffield. The main tendon has pulled away in a front leg and at his age, there is no point in even thinking about bringing him back.
I am not that surprised if I am honest. We had been nursing a problem for a little while, and thankfully when he felt the discomfort, he didn’t try and compensate and do some more serious damage. He is a bit sore but it is more a performance affecting injury than anything too painful.
Along with King Elvis, it has been a memorable ride. There was a time when I put those two in the van that we weren’t frightened of anybody. You don’t just replace dogs of that calibre.
Turbo won more races than he got beat, 36 out of 68 races including four Cat One finals. He won Gold Cups at Towcester and Monmore, the Kent Derby and the Olympic. Yes I still sometimes hear, ‘he only won British bred’ races. He also reached a load of other finals and did win one British Bred race for £2,000.
Which is my personal favourite? Probably this one . . .
It is a shame that so much of his career was tarnished by him having his card marked in his seventh race at Swindon when he was 20 months old. I don’t want to go over old ground but there are some important lessons to be learned for anyone with young greyhounds.
First up, I don’t think the dog should have had his card marked. Young dogs make mistakes and a quiet word about taking him away for more schooling would have done the job. That is a matter of opinion and we have move on, I have been back to Swindon many times since and don’t bare grudges.
But would anybody have even been aware of it, had it not been for Towcester refusing to accept ‘marked’ dogs for the Derby? Lots of famous dogs have lost concentration when they were younger, some were disqualified, others were marked ‘awkward’ or ‘further schooling’.
Nobody would be aware if Towcester hadn’t taken the stance that they did on the Derby.
You might even accept it if the Towcester stewards were particularly hot on fighting. I saw a stack of fights during Towcester’s two Derbys. One Irish dog practically took the head off another one at the first bend and nothing was said. They weren’t fussy about dodges in graded races either. Come to that, neither were Swindon.
Only Towcester know why they took the decision they did. But I can’t pretend that one thought hasn’t crossed my mind many times, ‘would they have made the same decision if Turbo had been trained at Towcester?’ The dog loved the track and showed in the Gold Cup that he was at the peak of his powers. We will never know.
I never had any doubt that Turbo was genuine but a lot of people were desperately hoping that he would do something wrong. A lot of them were in TV studios. But they never got the chance to say ‘I told you so’ in his next 61 races plus trials.
If there is a silver lining to all of this, it is that everyone is now aware to not be too hasty with young dogs. A lot of graded dogs get written off because idiots will tell you ‘once a fighter, always a fighter’. If King Turbo had been a grader, not a champion, we wouldn’t be talking about it and a lesson would be missed.
Looking forward, we are still to make long term plans. I will discuss it with the boss, but I hope Turbo will stay in Britain and join Big Ronnie Grey. Ron has done a great job with King Elvis who has had 20 bitches since June and it will be good to see the lads back together.
Whatever happens at Romford on Friday or at Sheffield next Tuesday, I believe I made the right decision to run three of our Kings in the Essex Vase and the BGBF British Bred Derby at the same time.
I am not suggesting you can do it regularly, but it isn’t a new idea. On the flaps we often ran the dogs twice in a day, heats and final and nine times out of ten, the finals were won faster than the heats.
We stopped doing it because of pandying to the antis. Sod them. Our dogs are fit and well, (literally) fed like kings and living in luxurious kennels. If they weren’t able to take the racing they wouldn’t be running so well. Besides, what is the difference between what I am doing and bitches running four times in a fortnight in the Oaks?
I chose King Dylan, King Cash and King Lennon because I thought the extra racing would bring them on in their fitness. I didn’t consider running either King Turbo, because of his age and nursing him through, or King Sheeran, because of his previous broken hock.
Looking at the draws for the semi, I am pleased to see King Dylan in trap one. It has taken a while, but it finally looks as though he is using his brains and for a real ‘warm weather’ dog, who likes a heated kennel and to be coated up, he is running better now than in the summer.
King Cash goes in the same race. I couldn’t believe he could trap as well as he did on his previous visit to Sheffield, but then he had the switch to Romford and back again and made a right mess of it on Tuesday. He might be a dog who needs to be on the bunny, though he ran on well to qualify last time out so fingers crossed.
I have always thought King Lennon was the fastest of the litter but he has such a knack of finding trouble. Having said that, I thought he ran a superb race to overcome trouble and win like he did. If he could stop knocking dogs over and learn to run around them you would see how fast he really is,
I thought King Sheeran ran the track particularly well first time. I really liked how he drove on around the third and fourth bends. Hopefully he can improve for the run.
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