By Rob Abrey
After weeks of trial stakes and preparations, the Champions Stakes is finally here. The three round competition at Romford over 575 metres and worth £10,000 to the winner starts tonight at 7.29pm. Regular readers of this column will have previously read about several greyhounds entered in the competition and will know all about them. There are more interesting entries that haven’t been covered in previous weeks and as ever yours truly has endeavoured to find out more about some of them.
Barricane Tiger runs in the first heat at 7.29pm for Towcester trainer Patrick Janssens. The December ’13 whelp needs no inductions to those who follow the open scene. The son of Razldazl Jayfkay and Dirt Bird is somewhat of a competition specialist reaching the finals of the Kent Derby, Arc, Eclipse and the Sussex cup twice winning once. He is currently in fine fettle after coming second in the Sussex cup final at Hove by just ¾ of a length to Shaneboy Freddie. He is back at Romford over six bends after sixteen months away. Back in April 2016 he ran over C&D four times winning once in a calculated time of 35.62.
On Barricane Tiger, trainer Patrick Janssens said: “He just couldn’t get there in the Sussex cup final but ran really well. He has run at Romford before and clocked 35.62. He is a better dog now then he was then.
“He done well in the Sussex cup and ran well at Central Park last week after missing the break. If he broke I believe he would of done a time of 28.70.
“He is in great form at the moment and should go well. He is good enough to take his chance in the Champion stakes. In my opinion if I trialled him over 400 metres he would get close to 24 seconds. If he turns in front in any race he will be hard to beat. To win, he ideally has got to lead.”
We know Barricane Tiger is a competition dog and the 12/1 ante post price being offered by William Hills and Betfred feels a bit too big. He is running really well presently and the Champion stakes is an achievable target.
Former St Leger winner Fizzypop Buddy is back in training after a month off due to injury for a tilt at the Champion stakes. Trained by June Harvey of Swindon, the July ’13 whelp is no stranger to Romford having won back in April over C&D in a calculated time of 35.99. At just over four years old he is showing no signs of slowing up with a good recent calculated trial time of 24.31 over 400 metres. The son of Tubbertelly Dubh and Saleen Queen will definitely get the trip and if continuing to improve after his recent injury could keep qualifying.
Trainer June Harvey on Fizzypop Buddy said: “He has been off for a little while with a minor injury. Tonight will be his first run back and will we see if he performs. I wouldn’t enter him if I didn’t think he could perform.
“He is well in himself but is probably lacking a race. We will see how he performs tonight and hope he does well.
“He had a trial on Tuesday and did a good time. Fingers crossed for tonight that he qualifies. We know he is a good dog and can only but hope.”
Fizzypop Buddy is 25/1 to win the Champion stakes and for a dog we know that stays and is a big race performer could keep qualifying. An each way bet should be considered.
We have a Sussex cup winner contesting the Champions stakes, a St Leger winner and now we have a Juvenile winner and greyhound derby finalist in the shape of Murrys Act in heat four at 8.21pm. Trained by Yarmouth trainer Kevin Boon, the March ’15 whelp does not need many introductions. The fact the son of Tullymurry Act and Brave Meave reached the final of the greyhound derby shows just how good he is. He has run around Romford over C&D before. Late last year and early this year he ran around Romford over 575 metres nine times winning three. His best calculated time came in December last year when he clocked 35.43. In a recent trial over 400 metres the greyhound derby finalist clocked a very impressive calculated time of 23.97. He is running way, way better than he was back in February and could be a real threat to Coronation cup winner and ante post favourite Roswell Romanov.
Trainer Kevin Boon on Murrys Act said: “He trialled on Tuesday and clocked 23.87 [+10]. I was very pleased with that. He needed that run as he has not had many runs since running in the Dundalk International.
“I was toying with entering him for the Irish greyhound derby but the travelling didn’t suit him and with work commitments I had to balance it all out and decided to enter him for the Champions stakes instead.
“He has run around Romford before and I’m confident he will stay the trip. He has run around there before in a time of 35.23 [+20]. He is running well and the recent trial time shows that. I’m happy with trap six on Friday as that is ideal for him.”
Any greyhound that can do a sub 24 trial time that stays is always going to be a player in the Champion stakes. Betfred and Paddy Power are offering 5/4 for Murrys Act to win his heat and that must be considered. He has also proved himself to be a competition dog and the 8/1 ante post price being offered by William Hills and Betfred should be taken.
Amongst more established stayers, Ballinakil Biddy makes her six bend debut tonight for Hove trainer Seamus Cahill and connections. The lightly raced daughter of Kinloch Brae and Newinn Expert has never run over six bends before even in trials with the 515 metres trip at Hove the most she has covered. She goes into heat six tonight at 8.53pm in good form after winning a recent race over 515 metres at home track Hove in a calculated time of 29.83 on Sussex cup final night. The December ’14 whelp has yet to race around Romford but trialled over 400 metres back in May clocking a decent calculated time of 24.41.
Trainer Seamus Cahill on Ballinakil Biddy said: “She is making her six bend debut and I don’t know if she stays. I’m hoping she gets the trip, she does get Hove really well. She has trialled around Romford before and did well.
“She ran at Towcester last Saturday in the Lowther stakes but missed her break, found trouble and was knocked out. Since she went out we made a last minute decision to enter her for the Champions stakes. Sometimes these things work out.
“She is in a good race and I’m happy with her draw in two. If she comes away from the boxes she runs well.”
Although there are question marks over her staying ability her runs over 515 metres do install confidence she can stay the 575 metres at Romford. She is 9/4 with several firms to win her heat and that should be considered. With her early pace if getting in front she will be hard to beat.
In the same heat at 8.53pm trainer Kevin Boon has entered Graigues Loch. The February ’14 whelp should have no problems getting the trip as he has won over 750 metres at Romford. More recently the son of Kinloch Brae and Graigues Toss has been running over six and eight bend races. His last race was over 843 metres at Yarmouth where he came second. He has never raced at Romford over 575 metres but has won over eight bends. Back in May he was trialled over 400 metres where he clocked a good calculated time of 24.30.
Trainer Kevin Boon on Graigues Loch said: “He is more of a marathon dog. He can definitely stay well enough, that won’t be a problem. If I hadn’t had entered him for the Champions stakes I would have entered him for a marathon race instead.
“We will see what happens. He is always there and there abouts and he may just do enough to keep getting through.”
Betfred make him 25/1 to win the Champions stakes outright and that should be considered each way. He may not have the early pace to live with some of the others in the early exchanges but he will certainly be running home strongly and may keep qualifying.