Kevin overdue some good four-tune?

Owner, trainer, breeder Kevin Ferguson doesn’t mince his words when viewing tonight’s BGBF British Breeders Stakes FInal. “Jimmy has a chance and a bit of a chance. I’ve got four, half chances.” – writes Floyd Amphlett

Coppice Gracie has been imperious on her way to the final, but no one would surely deny the ‘Acomb man’ a win in a competition in which he has serially hit the bar – and post – and at least one ballboy.

Acomb Alfie finished last in the 2023 decider. Acombs ‘Winston’, ‘Jenny’ and ‘Lilian’ from the Aug ’18 Hiya Butt/Acomb Ruby litter finished third, second and third in the previous three years respectively.

All five of that first mating went on to win open races. All six of the repeat, which includes Acombs Jasper and Mabel, also achieved the feat.

Bearing in mind that Alfie and Felix finished runners-up in the 2022 and 2023 British Bred Derbys at Sheffield, you can understand the sentiment when Kevin says, “I will die a happy man if I can win a Category One final.”

So, realistically, how does he see his chances this evening?

He said: “Coppice Gracie is a very good bitch with time in hand. She goes up fast and then cuts across to rail. If one of mine was to break at their best, they could stop her cutting across.”

So which of the four Acombs stands the most chance?

Kevin said: “If she was absolutely right, Irene is the best of them, certainly over a slightly shorter distance. On calculated times, she had the quickest run over the 480 at Sheffield last year and I think was second quickest over the 500. Obviously going allowances come into that.

“She is only 14 weeks out of season and last time it took her probably five or six races to find her best form. So she could improve. Felix and Johnny both have decent sprint form though with Johnny, he developed a habit of having a bit of a go at the dog on his outside when he came out of the traps. So I kept him to sprinting and he grew out of it.

“I’m happy to have all four through though I am also a realist. If Rab had entered some of his, we might not have managed it. What greyhounds he has there. But Jimmy and his wife are also nice people and we have always got on well.

“There are some people that you wouldn’t want to lose to. But not them.”

Semi final reminder:   Acomb Johnny  Coppice Gracie

Betting: 4/7 Coppice Gracie, 11/2 Acomb Felix, 7/1 Acomb Alfie, Acomb Irene, 17/2 Acomb Johnny, 33/1 Tickets Bullet

The main event is supported by the BGBF British Bred Midlands Sprint Final where there was only six spots separating semi final winners Keefill George and Fabulous Tempo.

Betting: 4/6 Keefil George, 7/2 Fabulous Tempo, 5/1 Rowington Star, 5/1 Watchall Sid, 12/1 Coppice Ebby, 25/1 Hinault Mcrow

Full card

GBGB ‘likely’ to suspend forfeit rule

It seems likely that GBGB will suspend its use of Rule 173 (ii) while it carries out an urgent review of drug testing.

The high profile ‘cocaine positives’ for Winter Derby winner Churchfield Syd and Oaks winner No Rush have sent shockwaves through the industry.

Peter Harnden, the trainers representative on GBGB has warned that his colleagues are becoming increasingly concerned about presenting their dogs for drugs tests.

He said: “This has got out of hand and has done huge damage to the reputation of the industry. Drug testing is supposed to demonstrate the integrity of the sport. It is doing the opposite. We look like a sport full of drugs cheats. Even the Greyhound Forum has had to speak up. And I know that even some of the stipes are upset about it.

“I have heard, but not been officially told, that the levels of drug being detected are so small that it would be impossible to see them with the naked eye. In fact, they are probably air bound. It is no good the disciplinary committee fining trainers in circumstances where environment contamination is the only likely explanation for the drug being found.

“I have spoken to connections of both the greyhounds that you have highlighted and they have said that the fear of getting a positive test have taken all the shine off a big race win.

“Also, huge amounts of prize money are being forfeited. Reputations are in danger of being ruined. You can dress it up how you like but once the story is out there that one of your dogs has tested positive for cocaine, nobody is interested that it might be 20 parts per billion.

“Nobody wants cheats to prosper but these people aren’t cheats. In my experience there are very few cheats in this industry. All that this situation does is allow that very small number to hide them among the innocent people.”

“Thankfully, I understand that work has been going on behind the scenes to take account of accidental contamination and I am expecting a statement will be issued by GBGB shortly.

“In the meantime, the only sensible solution is to immediately suspend Rule 173 (ii) which automatically disqualifies the greyhound.

“By all means, if it is ultimately proven that it is a genuine doping, take the race off them at the enquiry. But if the positive is found to be accident contamination, they shouldn’t lose the race.

“That isn’t about being soft on drugs. This is about natural justice.”


Thursday: HoveNewcastleSwindon

Friday: Romford