I came away with a real spring in my step after trials today at Hove, though I was a bit confused by the going allowances.
King Elvis clocked 16.44 for the 285 metres, with King Turbo clocking 28.81 for the 490 and King Dylan just 10 spots slower.
To begin with, the sprint was reckoned to be .15 slow and the 490 as .25 slow. That made no sense to me at all. The track was absolutely soaking and the sand coming over my boots. The track then reassessed to allowances to -30 for the sprint at -50 for the 490.
If you take a line through Elvis, that meant he had done a recorded 16.19. That seemed spot on, compared to his three previous solos of 16.16, 16.18 and 16.21.
As for Turbo, the track hadn’t been plated and I reckon it could have been anything between .50 and .70 slow. He certainly looked to have gone really well.
Those three, plus King Cash are due to go for the Coral Winter Derby which starts a week on Thursday.
I have said for a while that I am waiting for the Eden The Kid/Skate On litter to really kick on and there are signs that it is starting to happen.
They have surprised me as a litter that they really don’t like the cold, and this slightly warmer weather will really help them. It is surprisingly really, because they were reared to be as hard as nails, but the first sign of any cold and their fur all goes up on their backs.
I couldn’t have been happier with Dylan today, to be only 10 spots behind Turbo is some feat. We trialled his sister Beyonce at Central Park on Sunday and she took off. It was her first look at a track in six weeks and she did a 16.22 calculated.
Cash ran at Hove last week and ran a stormer after coming from last place to close Trade Fudge down to two and a half lengths.
I am often asked which is the best of the dogs, and I still don’t know but I have a inkling that it could be King Lennon.
Unfortunately he has had a couple of setbacks with a toe injury. It shouldn’t be a big deal, but we just can’t beat it. He is too good a dog to take a chance with and I am trying to get a referral to TV Supervet Noel Fitzpatrick.
King Sheeran seems to have made a good recovery from his broken hock. He has been running around the fields for the last six weeks or so with no sign of any discomfort.
But time is on our side and it will be April at the earliest before we start thinking about going onto a track.
All of which leaves King Nelson, the kennel’s new hurdle star who will be running in the Springbok. You can phone Ricky Holloway and tell him not to bother any more. Tell him Rab’s going to take over hurdling from now on!
In all seriousness, all the credit has to go to Big Barry O’Sullivan and Rosie. We took the dog along and after watching him jump, Barry said ‘well he won’t take long to school’.
Sure enough we had the dog back in three weeks. I was going to leave him until the Springbok first round but we decided to run him on Sunday and he ran a cracking race to win in 29.42 (-30) which is the second fastest qualifying time.
It was his first ever hurdle race but I was really only interested to know whether he would be fluent if he was jumping alongside other dogs, and he passed all the tests.
My very good pal Davy Laird, who is visiting, is confidently predicting that he is the most natural jumper he has seen since Sherrys Prince. So remember where you heard it first.
The editor has asked me to include a few of the stories about our flapping days. I don’t mind but the readers would need to understand that flapping is a very different game. Well it was where I come from anyway.
What licensed people think of as ‘cheating’ was just dog racing by a different set of rules. Everybody knew the rules of the game, you had to be on your wits to make it pay.
Apart from taking on four or five other dogs, you had to beat the handicapper and the bookies. They were as devious and better organised than any trainer. There was a lot of betting money at stake and they would pay spotters to work out who the dogs were and who was really training them.
The bookies would also be pulling their own strokes working out which dogs were trying and which ones weren’t and then taking your price if you weren’t cute enough.
I was born in Mauchline in Ayrshire and was brought up with greyhounds. My dad was a real good dog man and spent a lot of time with the legend who was Willie Grey.
Anybody who knows anything about Scottish racing would be in awe of Willie; he was an absolute genius. He always had some of the fastest dogs in Scotland, but obviously couldn’t let anyone know they were his, if he was ever going to get his money on.
He trusted my dad and would sometimes ask him to take dogs onto the track for him. The thing was, Willie played the game better than anyone and he wouldn’t even tell my father what he was up to.
I had my first lesson when when I was about ten and my father was taking a black dog to get it qualified for Willie. We arrived in the van and before we got out my father grabbed hold of a black felt tip pen.
He gently pulled the fur back on the dog’s neck and put a small black dot on the skin under the fur. He stroked the fur back and there was no sign of it.
I remember saying, ‘What are you doing Dad?’
He said: ‘Well Rab. Willie is going to ask me to bring this dog back here for a few races and I’ll be looking for the black dot. One of the nights, there won’t be a black dot, and that’s the night we’ll be backing him.’