It is 13 months since the first owner trainer runner went to traps at Shawfield. On Thursday morning, owner trainers, Stacy Smith and Grant Carney will proudly parade their runners before the re-run of the Cat 2 Bunny Bookmakers Gold Cup at Henlow.
The original final was made void by a snapped hare cable and although it was held on a Sunday, the final is way too important to let something like a ‘working day’ get in the way of a self-employed enthusiast.
Stacy’s runner Swift Casey is already a star on social media after cutting across the circuit and running straight into a pond in the centre of the Henlow circuit. Her owner wasn’t too surprised.
He said: “To begin with, I just thought she had been knocked over. But jumping into the pond would be entirely within character, she is a bit wild. Thankfully she came out of it none the worse for her experience”
Stacy had spent time working for Wayne Wrighting, Gemma Davidson and Ricky Holloway, when he first heard about the owner trainer licence. He was among the first to apply f0r a licence and believes he had the first owner trainer winner when Thousand Oaks won at Harlow on March 11 last year.
Oaks has since been re-homed and Stacy has since bought Swift Casey unraced for £1,750 and September ’16 youngster, Swift Muzzle from breeder Ian Greaves.. He also has another ex-racer in retirement.
He said: “Ask anybody who has been a kennelhand and they all want to be a trainer. I am 25, and who at my age can afford to buy a house, let along a kennel. I can manage three dogs, and they live in a conservatory attached to the house.
“In my opinion, the owner trainer licence has to be the best thing the GBGB have ever done. There must be so many people out there who would love to train themselves. My message to them is – give it a go, you won’t regret it.”
Grant Carney was been in and around the dog scene for years and was an owner with with various trainers including Kim Taylor and Pete Henman at Henlow. He owns and trains semi final winner Always A King.
He said: “Always A King was given to me. He was a decent dog who won five in a row at Henlow for Maurice Newman who wanted to run him at Mildenhall. King didn’t take to the tight bends and Maurice, took a view that he knew the dog would always have a good home with Pete and myself, and gave him away for free. That would be the sort of thing that Maurice has done many times, always putting the dog first.”
Although the Sep’14 whelp would have appeared totally exposed with a steady slot in A3, within the first month, his novice trainer sent him out to record the fastest time of his career (27.40 – 460m), which he followed up by winning an S1 and then landing a semi final of the Gold Cup.
Grant said: “I loved being an owner with Pete, and would go and see the dog on a Sunday before we went to the pub and watched football. I always fancied having a go myself but I had no idea it would be so enjoyable. I am self employed and the way I work is flexible so I can spend time with King, and my other runner Brannew Bailey. It is incredible how much you pick up when you are around the dogs all the time.
“I think he has a decent chance in the final, and is way overpriced. He has only ever been picked up once when he led and that was over 750 at Romford which was a bit too far for him.
“Whatever the result, I am loving the involvement, being in a final alongside trainers of the calibre of Mark Wallis and Hazel Kemp who has done so well and taking on a fantastic bitch like Slippy Maggie. What a star she could turn out to be! To beat her in the final would really be something.”