It is here. After weeks of preparation the inaugural Entain group track championship starts tonight. The four tracks of Crayford, Hove, Monmore and Romford under the stewardship of Entain battle it out for the coveted title of track champion. The twelve race card held at Hove this year with each race worth £750 to the winner has attracted top entries from each track. The night on Racing Post TV promises to be a belter.
The points system is first place takes seven points with second to last taking five to one point(s). With a night like this yours truly has covered this instead of Romford last night as it felt rude not to. I have found out more about a whopping eight greyhounds, two from each track to help you with the interesting entries and get a gauge of the teams.
Let us start with Crayford. Antonella for trainer Dave Lee goes in division two of the sprint over 285 metres at 6.28pm. The August ’18 whelp has had all of her twenty four races bar one at home track Crayford. Of those twenty three at the Kent circuit all of which over 380 metres, the daughter of Ballymac Best and Strawberry Amy has won eight including four in top graded company and one in open class. She clearly has early and showed she can handle herself against sprinters at Romford, her one race away from Crayford when coming second first time up last month. Her time in that race of 13.54 showed she has the early for sprints.
Dave on her said: “She’s doing what she has been doing. She has early to live with sprint types and good dogs. At Romford first time up, she had a big dog on her inside that held her up. Her time of 13.54 wins races.
“I’m not worried about her first time at Hove. Hopefully she will lead up and that will be it. She should run the track. Crayford to Hove is fine. Hove to Crayford first time, maybe not.
“Trap four for her is ideal, that will cause her no problems. Her times out of the boxes are very good. She won her last and is in good form.
“The track championship is a great idea and we are looking forward to the night.”
Ladbrokes and Corals are offering 9/2 for her to take the spoils first time up.
Regular readers of ‘Rob’s Romford Round Up’ will know all about Blue Tick George. Trained by Jim Daly the February 18’ whelp has featured twice previously.
First when he made his race debut back in September 2019 and then for his six bend debut both at Romford a year later. Since his debut at Romford the son of Laughill Duke and Jaytee China has been a regular on the open scene and has flourished since being stepped up to six bends. Over the longer trips he has reached the final of the St Leger at Perry Barr late last year. Only last month he reached the final of the Arc Grand Prix at Sunderland over 640 metres where he finished second. Tonight he runs over 695 at Hove for the first time at 8.54pm and goes into the one off race in fine fettle.
Jim on him said: “The distance is the top end of his range but we were a bit short of options so thought we would help out make him available. It is a good idea and good prize money.
“He is a front running stayer, off the front he will get it. It will take a good dog to lead him. If he breaks poor he will be on the back foot. Trap three is fine for him, it’s how he comes out. He has run from trap five in the past. If he is foot perfect from the boxes trap three will not be a problem.
“His trial was okay. He has been around Hove before over four bends and thought we would give him a reminder of the track. It sets him up for Saturday.
“Of my runners on paper he is the best standout chance. My other runners will give good accounts for themselves.
“It is a tough ask for the team on Saturday If we get a winner or two that will be good.”
Ladbrokes and Corals and are top price 11/10 for the Sunderland track record holder over 640 metres to take seven points for Crayford.
For the outright market William Hills are top price 14/1 for Crayford to lift the trophy.
Piercetown Dove trained by Derek Knight is the first of the two Hove runners to get the round up treatment tonight. The October ’18 whelp attempts her furthest distance to date of 740 metres in Division two of the super stayers at 6.58pm. The daughter of Ballymac Eske and Piercetown Moll has had four races on these shores but is yet to get off the mark. Longer trips are where her future could lay. She has had a race and trial over 695 metres at Hove and tonight makes the next step up.
Derek on her said: “I hope she stays. She wouldn’t be in it if I didn’t think she could get it. In staying races it’s all relative to what you’re up against. I do think she will stay though. She was bought for staying.
“She came into season and it took a long time to get her going afterwards. It took her a while to get over it.
“She will come from behind further down the line with Saturday being a learning curve for her. Last week we tried her over 695 metres and she was cut off early on. She got going after that. She will improve for that run.
“The draw is fine for her [trap 2] as long as she comes away. Either side of her do not have bundles of early and if she shows a bit of early, which she has, she can get in front.”
Those of a vintage age and with very good memories may remember this from Derek: “On Saturday will be the first time I have led a dog at Hove since the early seventies. The last time I did was Chain Gang in the TV Trophy trained by Frank Mellville. That’s almost fifty years ago. Hopefully I get around without collapsing. If she loses I won’t be doing it again anytime soon!”
Ladbrokes and Corals are top price 4/1 for her to win her first race at the fifth time of asking.
Followers of the open scene will know all about Surprising. Trained by Seamus Cahill the January ’19 whelp has only had eight races on these shores but has already won the English puppy derby at Towcester over 500 metres unbeaten. The only race the son of Droopys Sydney and Banabane has participated in this year was the Juvenile last week at Towcester over 500 metres where he finished fourth after early bother. Tonight he goes in division one over 515 metres at 7.56pm, his furthest distance to date. Over 500 metres recently in a trial he clocked an impressive time of 29.05 and has what appears to be his ideal draw of trap one tonight.
Seamus on him said: “Everything seems good with him. He was in the Juvenile recently and that didn’t work out well for him. He ran well at Towcester on Tuesday and came second. That’s another run under his belt.
“I think he will get 515 metres. If he led I’ll be surprised if he got picked up. It’s a nice draw for him [trap 1]. He’s definitely a railer, that’s the best place for him.
“He’s improving all the time. After this we will go back to Towcester for another trial stakes. All being well he should be spot on for the derby.
“We are looking forward to the night. There is good racing and good prize money, no doubt about it.”
Skybet are top price 6/4 for the English puppy derby winner to take gold. For the outright market Ladbrokes are top price 5/4 for home track Hove to keep the trophy down at the south coast.
Ballymac Kiora is the first of the two Monmore raiders to be covered by yours truly. Trained by Kim Billingham, the February ’18 whelp makes her Hove race debut at 6.43pm in division two of the track championship bitches over 500 metres. The daughter of Ballymac Best and Ballymac Kia had a recent spin over C&D clocking a calculated time of 29.80. She will be expected to improve on that time after that initial look. Back at Monmore she has won in top graded company over 480 metres. Interestingly she has also won over 630 metres in an S1 graded affair which suggests the 500 metres tonight will not be a problem for her.
Kim on her said: “She is a lovely bitch in great form and will hopefully do herself justice. We do wish though that she had a better draw [trap 4]. You can’t change it but if she had a pitch closer to the fence I’ll be happier.
“She trapped well at Hove in her trial and went really well. We don’t think she will dive for the rails and can hopefully overcome the draw.
“She certainly gets 500 metres. She gets it all day long. She runs on at Monmore but only just gets 630 metres. Hopefully she gets in a handy position and finishes strongly. Saturday is about scoring points. She runs on well and will do her very best. We are very happy with her and she is full of beans.
“It will be a really exciting night. We are pleased to be part of the team and is great for the owners.”
5/1 is generally available for the Monmore raider to take top points.
Summer Savvy for Monmore trainer Paul Sallis makes his Hove debut in division two of the stayers at 7.36pm over 695 metres. The January ’17 whelp although making his Hove debut is not untested over longer trips. The son of Ballymac Eske and Bartlemy Jules was a St Leger finalist over 710 metres at Perry Barr back in 2019. In that showpiece final he finished fourth after early trouble. Since then, he has winning form over 630 and 680 metres at Monmore and Nottingham. He is the sole wide seed in the race and clearly relishes longer trips.
Paul on him said: “He was a St Leger finalist a couple of years ago. After that he had an injury and with a lot of perseverance he came back.
“He goes in the race blind but Hove is not the hardest track first time up. The track should suit him. He will stay 695 metres easy. No problem at all.
“He is not in the race because he is the fastest but because he stays. We are not expecting him to pull up any trees but he will do his best for the team. He has been running well but is not the dog he was.
“Trap six for him is ideal. He is a wide runner and it’s best to be on the outside first time up at a track.”
There is a difference of opinion with the ‘bookies’ over the 2019 St Leger finalist. Skybet are top price 9/1 while others are as short as 4/1 for him to turn back the clock and win tonight.
For the Track Championship outright team Monmore are 10/1 with William Hills and Coral.
Now on to the Romford two. Ballyard Ricki for trainer Nathan Hunt will be looking to score big points for team Romford in only his second race this year. The April ’18 whelp has only had the one race at Monmore this year after being withdrawn from the Derby Plate semi-finals at Nottingham last October with an injury. Tonight, the son of Droopys Sydney and Coolavanny Sella is making his Hove race debut in division two over 500 metres at 7.18pm. In a recent trial over C&D he is showing signs of his old self with a good calculated time of 29.43 and will be expected to improve on that.
Nathan on him said: “He is a really nice dog. We bought him for the derby last year. He has been off for a while after picking up an injury in the Derby Plate last year. We kept him off longer than he needed to as we wanted to take our time with him.
“He has come back well; he did a good trial at Hove. It was a good first look around the track with a nice split. He has had a recent four bend race at Monmore and with the trial is getting fitter with every run. If he gets out like he did in his trial that could be enough to get him around in front.
“He has a good draw in trap five with four railers on his inside and expect him to come on for the trial. Fully fit we think he can clock low twenty nine seconds at Hove.
“Of my three runners he is my best chance I’ll say”.
Skybet are top price 2/1 for ‘Ricki’ to win at Hove after his recent trial.
Romford handler Michelle Brown has Lemming Fly in the ‘lucky last’ at 9.28pm which could prove pivotal in the race for the track championship trophy. The super stayers division one over 740 metres concludes the event and the May ’19 whelp will be looking to have a big say in it. The son of Kinloch Brae and Slippy Articfire is not only up against other tracks but his sister as well. Slippy Eva in trap one who is representing Hove is also his sister. Sibling rivalry as well as track rivalry. He showed 740 metres should not be a problem when winning over 750 metres at home track Romford last month by a whopping 10 ¾ lengths.
Michelle on him said: “He will definitely get 740 metres. He took to the track in his trial but is a trap one runner. His sister is on her inside and looks similar in her running style. It looks like they will be hustling for the first bend and comes down to who breaks best.
“He is all about the early. He has won an A1 at Romford and has got the speed when he needs it but is a proper tight railer. He’s a promising dog with a big future in the St Leger and competitions like that. 714 metres at Crayford could be ideal for him.
“If he gets get loose, he will be looking over his shoulder in the latter stages as Angel [Bubbly] will be finishing like a train. It’s all about the points, so this time we won’t mind if we get picked up by her!”
Several companies are offering 13/2 for Lemming Fly to beat his sister and his opponents in the ‘lucky last’.
Paddy Power are top price 6/4 for Romford to win the inaugural running of the Entain track championship.