The Champions league football draw may have taken place yesterday but the only Champions competition I’m interested in is the Champions Stakes final taking place tonight. After two rounds with plenty of thrills and spills along the way, the Champions Stakes concludes at 8.53pm for the final six. Regular readers of this column will be well cognisant with two of the finalists in the form of Clash and Ower Boy Bullet, trained by Hove’s June Harvey.
Tonight’s focus however is away from the final and with several greyhounds either making their Romford debuts or stepping up in trip, I’ve endeavoured to find out more about some of them.
Trainer Spencer Mavrias is back at Romford after his winning exploits with Alright Geezer last week who tonight contests in the Maiden Stayers final. With him he has brought along others and it is Robbies Silver that is the focus of this column.
The April ’16 whelp has had all of his eight runs on these shores at Central Park over 265 metres in D1 graded affairs, winning three. Importantly of the five races he didn’t win he came second in four of them showing he is very consistent. Only finishing outside the top two once in eight races in top grade company shows how consistent the son of Shaneboy Lee and Snowdon Karen is. That consistency from the traps could prove very useful tonight in a sprint open over 225 metres at 7.03pm.
If taking to the track he could be adding to his three wins.
Spencer said: “It is his first time around Romford and is going for a run. He is in good form at Central Park. If he converts his Central Park form he has a chance but the tracks are chalk and cheese.
“He has nice early pace and ability and with a ping break could hold his own. If he takes to the track he will be a big runner.
“When he first started at Central Park he came second three times by a short head, half a length and head. We thought he may not be going through with it but the penny has dropped and he wants to win. He will try his best.”
Coral have made Silver a 6/1 shot and that should be considered. He is a natural sprinter and if taking to Romford first time up is overpriced.
Yarmouth trainer Nicky Skiggs is becoming a bit of a regular to the Essex venue and tonight tries his Rocket Ronnie in a maidens race over 400 metres at 7.17pm for the first time. The August ’16 whelp has had all of his thirteen runs at home track Yarmouth over 462 metres winning only once. His last eight races though have been in top grade and open races and although he has done solid times the 462 metres trip looks a tad to far for him at the moment.The son of Droopys Jet and Madabout Her looks tailor made for 400 metres and the drop from 462 metres could be very beneficial. With his early pace he could cause the others problems and spring a surprise first time up.
Nicky said: “He is a nice dog. I’ve not had him for a massive amount of time since the owners put him with me. They are good guys and play snooker on a Thursday and watch the races on TV hence the name.
“At this stage he should suit 400 metres more than 462 metres. He is a dog that I think will suit Romford. He will get 400 metres nicely and in time should get stronger as he is still only young. He has definitely shown promise and came second in a puppy race behind a good dog and is already contesting in A1s.
“We thought we would try something different. He has lots of early pace from the traps. I’m happy with the draw. He is a middle runner and at Yarmouth he has broke well from trap four twice.”
Paddy Power make the Rocket a 6/1 poke and with his early pace could be worth a dabble. He should be suited to Romford and the drop to 400 metres is ideal for him.
Unattached trainer Gary Vincent knows what it takes to win at Romford as he had with his Jillypops. Tonight he is back, but this time with Clonkeen Ned. Entered in a maiden stayers race over 575 metres at 7.33pm the October ’14 whelp is not making his six bend debut though. The son of Clonkeen Stan and Jodys Revenge ran at Crayford recently in an open over 540 metres finishing third. He also came second in an open over 380 metres by only one and a quarter lengths showing he has a bit of early as well. Although almost touching four years old he has only had eight races on these shores winning two. If taking to Romford he may cause a shock.
Gary said: “I call him Charlie. To me he is a great bargain. I rang Trevor Bryan in Ireland who I have got dogs off of before and he offered him to me for free as he was not suited to Shelbourne.
“He is such a nice a dog and settled in really well. He went to Ian Stevens first to have a few runs at Crayford then I took him to train him myself.
“He’s run 526 metres at Shelbourne and 575 metres will be his limit. He is a strong dog and is a different dog on the bunny. If he leads it will take something special to get passed him. At Crayford he has done a 3.54 split time. If he can do the equivalent at Romford it would take something to lead him.
“I wouldn’t put anyone off having a couple of quid on him each way. He should be a big price.”
Coral and Paddy Power have priced up Ned at 7/1 and if leading he could as suggested by Vincent be worth a each way bet.
Followers of the Romford graded and open scene have been waiting for this moment with baited breath; Aghadown Brae being stepped up to eight bends. Trained by Maxine Locke the May ’16 whelp looks an eight bend stayer in the making. The Romford faithful were waiting for his six bend debut and he didn’t disappoint when winning in S1 graded company after two unsuccessful open attempts. Since then the son of Kinloch Brae and Prima Vera has held his own in open races winning one and reaching the semi-finals of the Champions Stakes. Tonight he goes over 750 metres for the first time at 9.08pm in a maiden affair and everything suggests he can get that and then some.
Doug Coates, co-owner of Aghadown Brae on him said: “We think he will stay and fancy our chances a bit. We have been looking forward to stepping him up. We didn’t think there would be a 750 metres race during the first round of the Champions Stakes so entered him for that. He ran really well and reached the semi-finals.
“We are lucky as if he wasn’t in the semi-finals he may well of run against Aayamza Breeze last week. This week there was a maiden marathon and it is possibly easier than what it could have been. He is against Baroness Bullet though who went off as evens favourite last week.
“If he does stay and we think he can, he could be anything. He has been running against top class dogs over six bends but doesn’t quite have the early. Against eight bend dogs he could be with them earlier than he normally is.
“We are happy with trap four, he likes to be there and is a middle runner.”
Skybet make Brae a 11/2 shot. Anyone who has seen him at Romford will know he needs further and that price should be taken. On course he will not return 11/2 or a bigger price. I’m confident of that.
Regular readers of this column may have had a nice few winners last week courtesy of Alright Geezer, Clash and Ower Boy Bullet. Alright Geezer, trained by Spencer Mavrias done pretty much what the trainer wanted him to do in his first ever six bend race; lead Droopys Gleeson. After that he never looked like being caught. Clocking a calculated time of 35.69 he returned a lovely SP of 8/1. Not bad at all.
In an additional Champions Stakes piece, Clash and OwerBoy Bullet were covered last week and they both obliged at SP returns of 5/4 and ½. All three to win paid 30/1 at their SP returns. All three race again tonight in their respective finals.