WE often get a laugh out of Muttley’s column in the Racing Post on Saturdays but this weekend we didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. 

The author, whoever he was, referred to the surprise £2m extra the sport will receive this year and went on to suggest that it is invested in giving a huge facelift to Wimbledon. Honest he did! 

In years gone by we could have invested in other GRA tracks, like West Ham, Clapton, White City, Harringay, Catford, Kings Heath, the list goes on and on... 

“Give us a stadium fit to stage a Greyhound Derby,” said Muttley. Nowt wrong with that but the first priority is surely to give us a
promoter who is fit to stage the Derby, and that rules out the GRA, who have long since lost the promoter plot.

And just in case you’re wondering, Saturday wasn’t April Fools Day!
 
 
TOMORROW’S bettor.com Northern Ireland Derby final at Drumbo Park looks guaranteed to attract the fledgling track’s biggest ever crowd and if you can’t get there to watch the event live then Sky Sport’s coverage of the meeting is the next best thing. 

It will be the third major greyhound competition bettor.com have sponsored this year, following on from the Scottish Derby at Shawfield and the Peterborough Puppy Derby. 

In prizemoney alone, the company have invested more than £116,000 in little more than three months and the good news is that they will be coming back for more next year.

“We have been thrilled with our greyhound sponsorship and will definitely be doing the same at Shawfield and Peterborough in 2012,” said bettor.com’s PR and marketing director, Jayne Clarke.

“And chances are we will revisit Drumbo Park too as, from what I can gather, the Northern Ireland Derby has gone down a treat there with football-like crowd support and the enthusiasm that goes with it. “
 
 
GOBATA is encouraged by the response for investment in our Premier League project with chairman Martin White and Chris Page each reporting a positive feedback from investors. 

"We are indeed encouraged, the Premier League is a huge undertaking and it is most satisfying to see so many greyhound supporters expressing an interest and wishing the competition well," said Martin. 

The chairman was accompanied on Monday by Chris on a visit to the GBGB headquarters in London for a formal meeting to discuss the Premier League and met with Senior Stipendiary Steward, Paul Illingworth, and Amanda Duplock of the GBGB Calendar Department. 

"Mr Illingworth was satisfied that our proposals were permissible in relation to the GBGB Rules of Racing," Martin added. 
 
 
GOBATA has received various questions about the Premier League raised by members of the public. Below is our response to one which was posted on our website yesterday and encapsulates some of the concerns circulating. We believe this is an important initiative and it is proper to address all questions raised. 
___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Question: 
“With this latest premier league initiative, where on earth is a plan for the good of greyhound racing in general? A premier league inspires the great but the majority are lower league where is the plan for them? They represent 80% of your membership so what are you doing for them? Please do not say that the GBGB will not speak to us. 

We need a greater debate and plan of action can we get one arranged?

A reply would be great.”
___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Reply from Martin White (Chairman):
The mission statement of GOBATA is as follows:

To give an effective voice to all greyhound practitioners, owners, breeders, trainers, and ancillary staff with the aim of assisting the GBGB to:

(A) Develop a commercial strategy for the greyhound industry that will halt its
continuing decline and be capable of sustaining the long term success of the sport
(B) Formulate policy on welfare and common issue interest

Point 1: With this latest premier league initiative, where on earth is a plan for the good of greyhound racing in general?

It is a known fact that greyhound racing is losing its popularity and facing many challenges, not least threats of track closures, lack of prize money and practitioners leaving the sport.

There is no magic wand which will make all of these problems disappear nor do we have any financial resource available to us to do so.
 
 
The entire competition went off with military precision... 

WE’VE not heard a bad word said about the Derby final meeting on Saturday, on the contrary, all those we have spoken to about the big night were full of praise for Wimbledon, and all those who sail in her! 

Will all the dogs turn up, and even if they did would the hare break down, will there be delays to the off times, and will there be the a lunatic attempting a drunken 100 metres dash across the infield?

None of it! And before you can say bowser, yes that was a regrettable mistake in the third round, but other than that the entire competition went like clockwork and most agree that to a man.
 
 
...yet not Taylor-made for Shelbourne says Charlie... 

SO that’s it for another year, Charlie is the Derby darling for a record sixth time, Taylors Sky demonstrated yet again that he is the very epitome of consistency and there was a welcome return of the feel good factor at Wimbledon on Saturday! 

All in all it was one of the most successful Derbys of recent years - the bowser farce during the quarter-finals notwithstanding that is - and Wimbledon will reflect on the success of the last four weeks with no small degree of satisfaction. 

No quibbling over seeding, no fighters or biters that we noticed and, above all, no injuries of any significance, the entire industry has enjoyed a Derby to be proud of. The only lingering concern is whether or not Wimbledon will be there for an encore next year.
 
 
It’s jangled nerves time at Plough lane... 

AFTER four long weeks of anticipation, expectation and, more than anything else, frayed nerves, owners and trainers of the six William Hill.com Derby finalists will at long last know their fate at around 10.15 tonight. 

The agony and the ecstasy of getting your dog through to an English Derby final is part and parcel of it all but what those owners and trainers will enjoy tonight is the sheer pride in the knowledge that they have got there and they will cherish the moment for as long as they live. 

Charlie Lister has been there, read the book and got the T-shirt, more times than we can remember but even Cool Hand Charlie will be on edge as his runner, the track record-holder Taylors Sky, is led to trap one for the main event.
 
 
“I am really struggling to survive,” says Ten Large Down’s trainer... 

AS one trainer will wallow in Derby glory at Wimbledon on Saturday so another is contemplating her future in greyhound racing, such is the current state of the industry. 

Like many of her counterparts, Diane Henry is, and has been for some time, struggling with the increasing costs of running a kennel with precious little income from anywhere else, least of all, or rather none at all, from the industry.

“Word is going around that I’m quitting the game straight away, but that’s not the case. I will stick around for a while yet and take stock at the end of the year before considering whether or not to renew my licence,” she said.
 
 
...and the Sky menu will include seven more finals! 

DRUMBO PARK hope to stage an international race at their big bettor.com Northern Ireland Derby final meeting on June 25 which will be broadcast live on Sky Sports. 

The main event, run over a testing 550 yards, got under last Saturday and the County Antrim track have ambitious plans for final night when, subject to the events filling, the Derby decider will be supported by no fewer than seven other finals. 

“That’s the plan,” said assistant racing manager, Ryan Rossborough. “The races will be over various distances while the international event will be over 525 yards. The intention is to have two runners apiece from Britain, Southern Ireland and Northern Ireland.”
 
 
Kilkenny trainer aims for third time lucky at Wimbledon... 

PAUL HENNESSY has been knocking on the English Derby for a while now and on Saturday at Wimbledon will send out his fourth finalist in five years courtesy of Barefoot Bullet. 

The man from Kilkenny, whose kennels are a stone’s throw from Gowran Park racecourse, has won an Irish Derby with Tyru Rhino and two Scottish Derbys with Priceless Rebel and Tyrur Kieran, but the English equivalent has so far eluded him. 

“But it’s great to be back again, the English Derby is the race everyone wants to win and the owners and I have been justified in laying the Bullet off since last year’s Irish Derby final,” said Hennessy.