By Rob Abrey

It’s Friday and as ever Romford are putting on their weekly open race feast with eleven races from 6.47pm. With a maiden stayers and a standard competition starting there is plenty to enjoy. As ever there are greyhounds stepping up in trip and making their Romford debuts. True to form yours truly has endeavoured to find out more about some of them.


Yarmouth trainer Maurice Rice is back to Romford with a team of three. Back in late May he came with Headford Mark, covered in this column who won first time up. That victory has obviously given him a taste for more and tonight he tries three of his charges at the Essex venue for the first time tonight.

First up for ‘team Rice’ is Ballyfore Luck in a puppy race at 7.03pm over 400 metres. The lightly raced October ’16 whelp has only had three races on these shores winning one. That win came at home track Yarmouth over 462 metres in an A4 graded race. The daughter of Newinn Yolo and Coonough Tan won that race by eight lengths showing she is coming along nicely with plenty of improvement still to come. Those that have seen her at Yarmouth may have noticed she has a distinctive feature or lack of it actually; she has no tail.

Maurice said: “She has surprised us in what she has done. She wasn’t expensive to buy. When she won her race she showed nice early pace and led all the way. Whether she will be open class remains to be seen. 400 metres at Romford will be good for her. She has trap five which is good. She is a wide runner so five or six is good for her. She has run from five at Yarmouth.

“She actually has no tail. I spoke to her breeder in Ireland and he told me she was born without one so she has never had one. It certainly hasn’t affected her and she runs Yarmouth well. She has nice early pace.”

Ballyfore Luck appears to have split opinions with the bookmakers. Skybet make her a 12/1 shot while Paddy Power make are much more cautious and have priced her up at 5/1. The 12/1 being offered by Skybet does feel a bit big and may be worth some consideration.

Next up for ‘team Rice’ is Jura Go Willow in heat two of the Romford Friday night standard over 400 metres at 8.06pm. The October ’15 whelp has had fifteen races on these shores, winning six of them; a very good strike rate of 40%. The daughter of Droopys Cain and Royal Willow has all but one of her fifteen races at home track Yarmouth with most being over the standard trip of 462 metres. All of her six wins have been over 462 metres in A1 graded races which shows just how consistent she is in top graded affairs. She has early pace and can see out the four bend trip well. If her form translates to Romford tonight she could spring a surprise.

Maurice said: “She is a decent dog and looks really useful. She is the main reason for going to Romford on Friday. The other two were entered since we had plans to go. She has decent early and know she could be a decent dog.

“The fastest time of the year at Yarmouth this year over the standard trip was by John Mullins’ Oh Nonono. Willow clocked a time recently only two or three spots behind it so that shows where we are with her.

“Ideally I should have taken her to Romford last week when there was a maiden competition on, so I didn’t put her against open winners but if she doesn’t win I can always put her back in maiden races. On Friday she has trap four. I would have liked trap two or three but we have to deal with what we have. She has early pace and can get away. The 400 metres trip will be no trouble for her. She will get that easy.”

Jura Go Willow has certainly been given a baptism of fire tonight against some proven open racers. She is however is in fine form and the reason the trainer is at Romford tonight. The 12/1 being offered by Ladbrokes may be worth a little dabble.

Jura Go Zoe, the last to run for ‘team Rice’ is in the same competition as Jura Go Willow, is in heat three at 8.38pm. Unlike kennel mates Ballyfore Luck and Jura Go Willow, the October ’15 whelp is not a maiden with an open race win to her name. The daughter of Makeshift and Fridays Aries has won a sprint race at Henlow over 277 metres. That was in November last year where she beat the very useful Hit The Roaduk by three lengths. Since then she has stayed at home track Yarmouth winning several A1 graded races. It appears the 462 metres trip is her top whack and would benefit from a shorter four bend trip. The 400 metres trip tonight at Romford could be ideal for the early paced sort.

Maurice said: “She has a won a sprint open at Henlow. She has a good bit of early. 462 metres is a bit to far for her and in some races builds up a big lead before they get close to her. 400 metres could be ideal for her.

“She won an A1 in her last race. The time of the race was not good but the race was really scrappy with a lot of trouble in it. She managed to get up on the line and win by a short head. She had to battle very hard. That is why I like her so much. She is a little battler. She is at the back end of her season [14th March] and is running well.”

She has sprinters pace. Has a good draw and is a battler. If she leads and there is trouble behind her she could spring a surprise. Skybet and Ladbrokes are 16/1.

It is very much all about Yarmouth raiders this week with Collswood Hawk making up the last of my four I have focused on. Trained by Nicky Skiggs the July ’16 whelp makes his six bend debut tonight over 575 metres in heat two of the Romford Friday night stayers at 7.51pm. The son of Top Honcho and Swift Lady has experience at Romford with three runs in late April and May over 400 metres. On those three occasions he came second twice and fourth. That distance now looks too short for him and the step up to six bends looks like where his future may lay. He has been running on strong at Yarmouth over 462 metres and in his last race in A1 company won by eight lengths after avoiding first bend trouble.

Trainer Nicky Skiggs on Collswood Hawk said: “He’s had a few runs at Romford but 400 metres is too short for him. He looks ready to stay further. He is only a young dog and I wanted to wait to he is at least two years old before stepping him up. We have been talking about it for a few weeks and now feels the right time. I still feel in time there is a little bit more to come from him.

“He has been running on well and the owners think he will stay as well. I have entered him at Romford as he has experience there and the 575 metres is shorter than the 659 metres at Yarmouth. He runs well at Romford and he seems to like the like the track so thought we would give him a go. If he does stay it opens up plenty of opportunities for him.

“Trap five at Romford is fine. He has experience from running from five at Yarmouth.”

Paddy Power and Skybet make him a 7/2 shot and that is worth considering. He has experience at Romford, looks like he stays and has enough early pace for the opening exchanges.

As is becoming a regular feature in your favourite read, trainer Patrick Janssens was asked last week whom of his five runners he thought could be his best chance of winning.

He suggested Kilmore Lemon. He wasn’t wrong as the sprint star duly obliged over 400 metres in a calculated time of 23.89 by four and a quarter lengths returning an SP of ½. A short price perhaps but once he led the win never looked in doubt. Those who followed all of Patrick’s five runners would have had three winners in total with Seaglass Caesar and Seglass Sparky the other two.