By Rob Abrey

It’s Friday and that can only mean one thing; open racing at Romford. With twelve opens on show from 6.47pm there is plenty of enjoyment to be had. With a maiden competition starting over 400 metres and a returning favourite along with other greyhounds making their Romford debuts there is plenty to look forward to. As ever yours truly has endeavoured to find out more about some of them.

Central Park trainer Patrick Janssens is back to Romford after a three week hiatus. Tonight he is back to Essex with five runners. Two are making their Romford debuts and the old Romford favourite, Kilmore Lemon is back for the first time since missing out on the Coral Sprint final due to an injury. It is these three that I have focused on tonight.

First up for ‘team Janssens’ is Magical Houdini in heat two of the Romford Friday night maidens at 7.18pm over 400 metres. The September ’16 whelp is making his race debut on these shores after four trials at Hove and home track Central Park. The son of Tyrur Big Mike and Impact Mixture has shown consistency in those trials, especially at Hove. Over the 285 metres trip he had two trials and clocked calculated times of 16.40 in both. Last night at Hove for example there were three sprint open races. The time of 16.40 would have won two of them. The 400 metres trip at Romford tonight could be ideal for him and it shouldn’t be long before he sheds his maiden tag.

Trainer Janssens on Magical Houdini said: “He’s a dog that was running in Ireland. He has done some good trials over here. At central Park over 480 metres he led and was distracted. I put him over the sprint trip next time out and he did a good time.

“He is a real nice dog. He has a nice bit of early and think he will go well on the open scene. I don’t know a lot about him at the moment but will learn from him race by race.

“I know he is a lovely dog and is great to handle. His trap draw on Friday [trap two] appears fine for him. He is almost two years old and does have race experience in Ireland. He does has real nice early.”

Paddy Power make Magical Houdini a 5/2 shot. He is improving all the time and that price should be considered.

In the following race, heat three at 7.34pm, sees another from ‘team Janssens’ make their race debut on these shores. This time it is Seaglass Phantom running at Romford for the first time. The November ’16 whelp like kennel mate Magical Houdini has only had four trials.

Three of the trials were at Central Park with the other one at Sunderland. His last trial at Central Park is pleasing on the eye as the son of Droopys Jet and Beanfield Park was pitted against Kilmore Lemon. Put together in a sprint trial, Kilmore Lemon only won by three and a half lengths. This is the dog that broke the track record at Yarmouth over two bends last month. He has shown improvement from his first trial over 265 metres at Central Park to his second trial over the same trip by seventeen spots. He will be expected to continue to improve and like his kennel mate in the previous race should not be competing in maidens for very long.

Janssens said: “I know more about this one. His trials at Central Park are impressive. He also did a good trial at Sunderland but I opted not to run him there. Last Friday he trialled against Kilmore Lemon and ran really well. Kilmore Lemon only just made the bend to win the trial. To almost beat him to the bend is not an easy task.

“I think the world of him, I really do. He has absolutely phenomenal early and middle pace. He could be a very good open racer. He looks really nice, really nice. He has to do it against five other dogs on Friday and we will see how he copes. His draw in trap one on Friday is fine. If he leads he has a very good chance.

“The Puppy Derby at Towcester and the puppy competition at Nottingham are future plans for him all being well.”

This pup could be anything and the 7/4 being offered by Skybet feels way too big. If taking to Romford first time he could be a massive player and that should be taken.

Followers of the open race scene will definitely know the name Kilmore Lemon. The February ’16 whelp is back to Romford for trainer and connections for the first time since missing out on the Golden Sprint final due to injury after making the finale unbeaten. He has shown he has no ill effects of that injury by winning two of his three races since. One of those wins included breaking the track record at Yarmouth over 277 metres. Tonight the son of Taylors Sky and Lemon Lucy is back over four bends and will be looking to continue where he left at Romford with a win at 9.11pm over 400 metres in a standard affair.

Janssens said: “He is an absolute phenomenal greyhound. I have never trained a greyhound as fast as him to the first bend. He is a proper dog. He is in great form and is all good now. He has won two from three including the track record at Yarmouth.

“He did a very good sprint time at Central Park [16.18] and is ready for four bends again. After Friday I will take him to Hove for the sprint competition then look to enter him for the Guys and Dolls at Crayford next month. Crayford should suit him.

“The race at Romford on Friday is a good race with a lot of pace in it. If he can just clear the three dog [All Slick Now] he has a very good chance.”

As is becoming a regular feature in this column Patrick was asked the cheeky question of who he thinks could go best from his five runners. To that he replied: “Kilmore Lemon. He loves Romford and is fantastic around there.”

Kilmore Lemon is currently best priced 8/13 with Ladbrokes to take the spoils.

Harlow trainer Paul Clarke tackles Romford tonight with three runners, two of which are in the same sprint open. In that sprint open over 225 metres at 6.47pm he is represented by Tagalong Zoe and Fortunate Reggie. It is Fortunate Reggie where my main focus is on. Looking at the form of Fortunate Reggie and your immediately drawn in to the fact he has nine wins from sixteen starts on these shores. All of those sixteen races have been at Harlow over the sprint trip of 238 metres.

Six of those nine wins have come in top graded affairs and another was at open race level. He is currently on a four timer with three wins in D1 races and an open race. The February ’15 whelp is clearly in form. The son of Barefoot James and Katie Granny is clearly what I like to call a natural sprinter. He has the early and consistent trapping prowess required for two bend races. In a recent trial over C&D he was beat by kennel mate Tagalong Zoe one and a quarter lengths but would be expected to improve on that.

Paul said: “He is a nice little sprinter. On Harlow form he looks good.He was off for a little bit with an injury and came back better than ever. Before his injury he wasn’t coming away that well. Since he has come back he has started to come away again. He is producing sub 15 seconds over 238 metres consistently at Harlow. He has done nice runs back to back at Harlow.

“I gave them a little look at Romford to get a feel for the place. He will come on for it. Although beaten by our other one you don’t get nothing for winning a trial.”

Since Paul has two runners in the race he was asked who he thinks could go better tonight. On that he said: “At Romford. Hand on heart, I would say Tagalong Zoe. She is also running well at the moment and is inside Reggie and just has that extra metre. If they were together at Harlow I would have said Reggie.”

There is a bit of opinion difference within the bookmaking community over the Paul Clarke duo. Coral make the pair 12/1 each while Paddy Power make them both 9/2. The 12/1 for either feels too big and should be considered. Both have had trials at Romford and should improve.

Regular readers of this column may have had a nice little 2/1 winner last week courtesy of Courts Ad Peter. Trainer Phil Simmonds last week said that ‘Peter’ had the best chance of winning from his eleven runners and he wasn’t wrong. The local raider duly obliged in a calculated time of 24.25 by a head. It can pay to read this column.