There are reckoned to be around 400 disused coal pits in the North East- more than enough to hide the bodies of the entire membership of the Greyhound Writers Association (which numbers in the dozens) should Ice On Fire not be awarded the Greyhound of the Year title in London on Sunday January 26 – writes Floyd Amphlett.

Thursday night’s Newcastle card was a ‘Cat 1 & 2’ double header and on this occasion, it was the lower category final that understandably on this occasion attracted the most interest.

This is how the 2019 O’Toole’s Gym Byker Laurels Final unfolded (click on result).

ICE ON FIRE Winner Of The O’toole’s Gym Byker Laurels Final Trained By James Fenwick Owned By Mr D. Spraggon Photograph by Grossick Racing Photography 0771 046 1723

It was a win worthy of the former Wimbledon classic and once again demonstrated that Dave Spraggon’s young greyhound is the complete package. Although a length and a half down on his regular sectional, the strapping son of Crash showed once again that he is far from a ‘bang and gone’ operator.

It was his 16th win in 19 races which include the Cat One: All England Cup, Puppy Classic and the Eclipse. But it is possible that one leg of the brilliance is being forgotten.

Prior to the race, the runner-up trainer Pat Rosney, who knows what is like to train a Greyhound of the Year said: “I think Jimmy’s (Fenwick) part in this has been completely overlooked. Yes, Ice On Fire is the best greyhound I have seen in a number of years, but Jimmy could not possibly have done a better job. The great Charlie Lister could not have done any better in preparing the dog.

“Jimmy is a top man with a dog and has been given the chance to prove it with the best dog he has ever laid a hand on. It has been an exceptional training performance.”


The main event – the Alconex Puppy Derby Final, might have been a little overshadowed but that was hardly the fault of Levante Beach who, to use the old cliche, ‘could only beat what was put in front of him.’

To see how he did it, click on the result.

LEVANTE BEACH Winner Of The Alconex Northern Puppy Derby Final Trained By Angela Harrison Owned By Mr T. Camsell, Mr F.G.W. Ellison, Mr R. Lindsay & Mr J. Wright Photograph by Grossick Racing Photography 0771 046 1723

Although clearly at the end of his stamina range on a wet track, the 4-5f made it six wins from a dozen outings. Whether or not Levante Beach will develop into a 500 metre Derby dog, as mentioned by Jimmy Wright, remains to be seen.

Following the race Jimmy said: “They watered the track just before the race and we were a wee bit concerned that it would slow it down a bit. But the way he came away was like sprinters pace. He went maybe four or five clear down the back and Jimmy Fenwick‘s dog came on the scene and it looked as though he was going to give him a real good race on the run in, which it did. It was a great race to watch and only the right result.”


The meeting included an open race treble for Angela Harrison and a double for Jimmy Fenwick to take the local open race trainers table down to the final open race meeting on Saturday 28th.

The Harrison treble was led off by the country’s fastest female sprinter in Droopys Reel who won at a facile 1-14 in 16.88 (-10). It compares well with the best times recorded by former kennel favourite Walshes Hill (16.74).

There was also a highly promising staying debut for Velvet Juliet with a 39.17 (-20) run. Pond Natalya’s fastest time of the year was clocked at 38.82 (N).

The other notable run on the night by Julie Bateson’s Tasty Treat who clocked 28.67 (-20) in a supporting 480.


General manager Ian Walton said: It was a great night. We would have had double or treble our normal Thursday attendance, and it would have been less than a good Saturday, they were proper greyhound people here to see good dogs competing.

“I thought the winners of the two races were exceptional. Levante Beach seemed to be right at the end of his stamina capacity but showed great guts to hold on from Jimmy Fenwick’s pup who might have got up but for bumping earlier in the race.

“Looking back at the year overall, I have to be very satisfied. There were doubts earlier in the year that we would be able to stage all our major competitions, but we managed it.”