Yarmouth could have the first kennel complex set-up since the days of GRA’s Northaw kennels if they were able to purchase the neighbouring heliport site writes Floyd Amphlett.
With so many track managements currently paying repair and improvement costs to trainer’s ageing kennels, as well as subsidising home finding ranges, Yarmouth promoter Simon Franklin has expressed an interest in the defunct 60 acre site.
He said: “It is on the market, but at a silly price of £2m with options for ‘industrial or housing’. They are clearly dreaming at that price, particularly because there is such bad access.
“The Highways Department object to everything off this main road, they even objected to us expanding our restaurant. Their access from the main road is around a car and half wide, which makes it an absolute impossibility for either option in my opinion.
“But we have considered what we might do with it if we could get it at the right price. We could build four or five new kennel blocks and rent them to local trainers.
“There would be room for a gallop, a full vets surgery, and our own homefinders kennels, all on site. These are very early days but it would be foolish not to consider the possibilities.
“Of course, if planning permission for houses (for the heliport) was passed, it would make this site considerably more valuable too.
“There are a number of greyhound tracks currently vulnerable as housing developments, though realistically, I can’t imagine any building here in my lifetime.”
Yarmouth racing manager Marcus Westgate has embraced the new owner trainer scheme by allowing runners on BAGS.
He said: “We only have four owner trainers so far, but if I know who they are, and can trust them, why wouldn’t I grade them?
“Our first owner trainer Amanda Lee, and her partner Tony Jubb, have been regulars here for years. They have a couple of runners, including Tickle Tap, who was at Crayford has raced several times on BAGS and have already won twice on BAGS.”
At the time of writing, Tap had raced on six occasions, with all times within two and a half lengths of each other.
Westgate said: “We have decided on a policy with all new trainers of asking them along for an interview. We show them how we operate, explain our policy on welfare, and simply ask that if they have an issue, they come and discuss it with us before going onto the forums shouting the odds.”
Westgate has also taken full advantage of the GBGB change of rules which allows racing managers to grade a runner over a longer distance without the need for a distance trial – providing they have four recent races over the standard distance.
He said: “I think it is a great initiative and has definitely helped bring some extra variety to the card. Sometimes it can be very difficult for owners to get here for trials and it is up to me to use my discretion.
“I understand that they are considering the option to allow middle distance runners to go in sprints without a qualifying trial. I hope it is agreed. Part from anything else, it brings a bit of intrigue to the form.”
Eighteen months ago, the Yarmouth racing office were indescribably smug after grading a race 4-1, each of five, 9-2 the other. They were almost as unbearable this week when returning a graded race, 4-1 each of four, 5-1 ‘the two rags’.