Betdaq Race Of Champions tops the bill

IT is difficult to imagine a better setting for a great night’s racing than Tralee in the heart of County Kerry and that’s why greyhound fans from all over will flock to the Kingdom tonight for the Betdaq Race Of Champions meeting.

Kerry is the hotbed of the greyhound breeding industry over yonder and the boyos out there in the west of Ireland will be out in numbers for a feast of racing while owners and trainers will relish the prospect of chasing prizemoney in excess of  Euros40,000, such has been the response to the big night.

The meeting is live on Sky Sports 3 from 8pm with the Race Of Champions  feature event bringing the curtain down on the coverage at 10.10pm and, with a British challenger in the line-up, there will be considerable interest on this side of the pond.

The sole Brit – okay he is Irish-bred – is Paul Young’s Bubbly Phoenix, who was far from disgraced in chasing home Razldazl Rioga in a prep race here last week and has a peach of a draw on the outside.

However, as so many British trainers have discovered down the years, going to the Emerald Isle and taking on the Irish, and the cream of the Irish at that, in their own backyard is a daunting prospect and Dolores Ruth’s Rioga dog should confirm the form with Young’s runner from an equally perfect pitch in trap one.

Comes out running does Razldazl Rioga, bear witness his three hits in the Derby qualifying rounds at Wimbledon last month, and if he goes round what is a comparatively friendly first bend at Tralee he will take plenty of pegging back.

But this is far from a two-dog race, a case could be made for all of them and a guide to the competitive nature of the event is that Power Of Gold, winner of the Produce Stakes at Clonmel this year no less, is likely to go off an outsider of the party along with Ballymac Vic, who shares this doubtful distinction with Owen McKenna’s runner.

Yep, you pays your money and takes your pick at Tralee but whatever the outcome rest assured that you will witness some outstanding performances over in the Kingdom tonight. Taxi!
 
 
William Hill Festival kicks in tonight

ARMCHAIR greyhound fans are spoilt for choice tonight, not only is the big Tralee meeting going out live on Sky Sports 3 but the commencement of the William Hill Festival of Racing at Sunderland can also be seen on Racing Post Greyhounds TV (Sky channel 231 but switching to channel 212 on July 5).

The opening round of the William Hill Classic (450 metres, final worth £25,000 to the winner) and the opening round of the same sponsor’s Grand Prix (640 metres, winner £15,000) take up the entire card at Sunderland with six heats apiece and there will be plenty to cheer up racegoers following the monsoon season in the north-east this week.

Mark Wallis sends out last year’s Grand Prix winner, Blonde Fletch, to begin the defence of his title in heat four where, from trap two, he should enjoy a solo to the corner against the fence with the one box vacant.

In the Classic, Dolores Ruth will be having one eye on her Razldazl Bugatti but the other on Tralee, where her Rioga runs in the Race Of Champions. Bugatti, an Irish Derby finalist last year and an English Derby semi-finalist this year, meets Dean Childs’ Droopys Loner here and she too reached the penultimate stage at Plough Lane last month.   

No room for error here, especially with Mill Bling Bling also in the line-up, but this is a race where the dogs drawn in red, white and blue should dominate, although not necessarily in that order.

So much to see tonight, thank heavens for Sky Plus!  

 
 
THE number of new greyhounds registered with the GBGB so far this year reveals a decline on 2011 but in keeping with the trend of recent years.

 An overall fall of 25% from 20007 to 2012 is clear indication that breeders are cutting back, the main reason being that they are on a downward curve in terms of selling on pups and saplings.

One of our leading breeders, Dave Wood of the Questhouse kennels at Berwick, is on record as saying that he will not be breeding any more litters due in part to the fact that that there is a lack of buyers out there.

“I don’t think the biggest problem facing the industry is a lack of greyhounds but a lack of owners prepared to buy dogs and that will inevitably lead to a lack of greyhounds in the future,” he said.

Getting back to this year’s GBGB figures as they stand, dividing the number of tracks into the number of registrations shows that there is now an average of fewer than 300 dogs per track, compare that to the 700-plus greyhounds Walthamstow regularly maintained!

 
 
IN REPLY TO CRAZY JOE’S POST ON GREYHOUNDSCENE STATING THAT HE HAS BEEN INFORMED THAT GOBATA, IN OUR MEETINGS WITH GBGB/BGRF, HAVE CALLED FOR CENTRAL CONTRACTS FOR THE TOP SIX TRAINERS, ALL I CAN SAY IS THAT AS GOBATA CHAIRMAN THIS IS NEWS TO ME AND SMACKS OF A CONTINUED CAMPAIGN TO DIVIDE TRAINERS BY CLAIMING THAT GOBATA ARE ELITIST. WE CALL ON ALL TRAINERS TO MAINTAIN THE SEEDS OF UNITY THAT HAVE BEEN EVIDENT BOTH DURING THE INAUGRAL TRAINERS’ PREMIER LEAGUE AND AT RECENT
GOBATA MEETINGS AND BACK RICKY HOLLOWAY IN HIS CAMPAIGN TO BE CHAIRMAN OF THE GTA AND ARREST THE CONTINUED DECLINE IN OUR SPORT.

AS HAS BEEN WELL DOCUMENTED, DESPITE NUMEROUS REQUESTS THE GBGB HAS REFUSED TO MEET WITH ANY REPRESENTATIVES OF TRAINERS WHO ARE OUTSIDE THE CURRENT COSY SET-UP OF WHICH MR SIMPSON IS PART. IT TOOK THE THREAT OF A BOYCOTT OF THE BETFAIR TRAINERS’ CHAMPIONSHIP PROPOSED BY THE LEADING FIGURES IN THE GAME TO SECURE A MEETING WITH TOM KELLY AND MARGARET WOODRUFF OF THE BGRF. THESE TRAINERS FELT THAT THEY COULDN’T CALL ON THEIR GRADED COLLEAGUES TO RISK THEIR LIVELIHOODS AND CONTRACTS BY ACTING SO DELIBERATELY CHOSE A MEETING AT WHICH THEY WERE THE SOLE LOSERS FINANCIALLY TO PRESENT A CASE TO TRY TO ARREST THE DECLINE IN OUR SPORT AND THE FINANCIAL VIABILITY OF GREYHOUND TRAINERS.

 
 
"GTA will not be represented by a person who is not an owner nor a trainer and is paid by the GBGB" 

THE recent GOBATA annual general meeting unanimously endorsed the candidature of Ricky Holloway for the position of Chairman of the Greyhound Trainers’ Association.

We would urge all trainers to take part in the upcoming election and to fully get behind Ricky in his bid to bring meaningful representation of trainers’ views and issues.

Despite the fact that the GBGB are bound under their own Articles of Association to develop a commercial strategy for the sport they have signally failed to do so and the exodus continues. It is vitally important that Ricky is returned in this election with unequivocal support of the majority of trainers.

The GTA has disenfranchised its own members by refusing to hold annual general meetings. Ricky’s election will begin the process of legitimising our position as stakeholders in the industry. Please take the time to make the effort and vote for him.

 
 
KINSLEY makes a rare appearance on Sky tonight thanks to the renewal of the Betfred Gymcrack Stakes final, a race in which Blazing Ruso will be bidding to land a second big-race prize within a week for his dam, Miss Shauna.

At Oxford seven days ago the Frank Taylor-trained You Mind Me, from an earlier litter out of Miss Shauna, led all the way to win the £8,000 Pall Mall final and tonight the Pat Rosney-trained Blazing Ruso will be out to add the £6,000 purse to the brood's progeny earnings.

Blazing Ruso is almost a year younger than You Mind Me but he has all the early-pace attributes of his sibling, if he breaks he is hard to pull back. His career record to date is five wins from seven races, two in the qualifiers at Kinsley and three from four at Clonmel.

“He’s a lovely dog,” said Rosney, “and has settled in very well for me. He behaves like a coursing dog, not highly strung like a lot of track dogs, he’s a great kenneller and a great traveller, and those qualities make life a lot easier for all concerned.”

Blazing Ruso is a monster of a dog, tipping the scales at 81lb and his size has almost certainly been handed down from Miss Shauna, who comes from coursing stock.

Rosney says he is the best value for money dog he has had in a long time and without going into details the Leyland-based trainer got him for a comparative song. “He was recommended to me by a couple of people and I did a deal, he ran for his previous owner when winning a valuable unraced stakes at Clonmel and has delighted me at Kinsley,” enthused Rosney.

“He will need to do everything right in tonight’s final as there is a lot of early pace in the race but if our fella comes away as he did in the in the semi-finals he’d have a great chance. He has experience of racing under lights so I am hopeful rather than confident, it’s all down to him from now on.”

*You can follow Blazing Ruso’s fortunes by tuning in to Sky Sports 2 at 7.30.

 
 
Picture
CAPTAIN SCOLARI with trainer Gerry Holian at Drumbo Park last night. Presenting the trophy is Bettor.com’s PR Director, Jayne Clarke (blue dress), while there were momentos too for Ruthless Man (right) and Lolos Joe (left)


THE deluge that hit Northern Ireland last week did little to dampen the enthusiasm at Drumbo Park on Saturday where the £25,000 Bettor.com Northern Irish Derby card went ahead despite fears the day before that the big meeting was in jeopardy.


“It rained incessantly for four full days before the meeting, so much so that Friday’s meeting was postponed until next week,” said Drumbo’s assistant RM Ryan Rossborough.


But determined that final night went ahead it was all hands to the pump first thing Saturday morning when trackstaff were called in at 7.30am for a major baling out operation, the upside of which was that racing was possible, albeit on a spongy track.


And there were no signs that County Antrim’s monsoon season had caused a serious deterioration to the running surface, the meeting was completed  without incident and nobody was more pleased than Gerry Holian, whose Captain Scolari took up the running at the second bend in the big race from fast-starting Ruthless Man.


John (Hit The Lid) McGee’s Ruthless man pestered the leader for the last half of the race but without ever looking likely to pull back Captain Scolari, who stayed on strongly and who was two lengths to the good from the McGee dog at the line in 29.67sec., an excellent time for this 550 yards bearing in mind conditions.


Captain Scolari has now won six of his 17 races for Holian and looks a natural for the Irish Derby at Shelbourne, as does third-placed Lolos Joe, who chose the wrong night to walk out of the boxes. Youngest finalist, Devilacare, took a step right out of the boxes from trap four, took an inevitable bump and that was his chance gone.


The Derby final was reduced to a five-dog race following the withdrawal of the Ollie Bray-trained Royal Patrol. “Ollie phoned us Saturday morning to say that the dog was off-colour, so much so that he wouldn’t get off his bed,” said Rossborough.

 
 
Fun, thrills and frolicking at Drumbo on Derby night tomorrow

THE lads and lassies will be sporting their finery at Drumbo Park tomorrow night, entering the spirit of the occasion in dressing up to the nines in the hope of winning one of the many prizes put up by the evening’s sponsors,  Bettor.com, who are backing the Northern Irish Derby for a third consecutive year. 

The betting firm sure know how to put on a glitzy show under the guidance of their innovative PR director Jayne Clarke, who tells us that there will be best dressed competitions for both the girls and the boys and with tempting prizes aplenty for the winners.

“The ladies will be presented with an amazing prize from the Galgorm Resort & Spa’s new boudoir and the winner, and up to 14 of her friends, will enjoy a half-day time out treat,” enthused Miss Clarke.

“There will be a welcome ritual which will include a number of treats,” she added and these include manicures or pedicures for the ladies, private use of the boudoir, a thermal spa experience, a sweet treat with a glass of bubbly, on top of which lunch will be thrown in.

The lucky lad will be presented with a Jason Shankey shave box, a bottle of champers and a voucher for a VIP table for four at Drumbo. “Other things I’m doing is giving out medals and presenting trophies to the winner and two runner-ups in the Derby final, rather Olympics style,” added Miss Clarke.

“I feel that it’s such an achievement just to get to the final that the first three should get the recognition and not just the one like in other sports, the first three will be on stage to receive their trophies.”

There will be a video up today on www.bettor.comNIderby.com featuring trainers in the Derby final. “All the trainers are getting very excited about the night, and so are we,” she added.

Oh, and the racing won’t be bad either at Drumbo if, that is, you have the time not time to blink. The Derby final is supported by opens over all distances and eight of these can be seen on Sky Sports 2, where coverage begins at 7.30pm.

The only downside of the night is that there will be no pig race a la Peterborough at Drumbo tomorrow, the swines are reported off-colour. We are joking of course!

 
 
Graded also rans earning more than open race counterparts

COST cutting at Hove has seen a £25 drop in win prizemoney in open races, now down to £150 from £175, while the five beaten dogs in the opens there all pick up just £25 for their troubles.

There were nine opens on last night’s Hove card but in all those races the also-rans picked up less than each of the 15 losers in the three graded races. Is the Hove management telling us that the graded also-rans are entitled to more than the open race dogs?

Bearing in mind that a good number of the visiting trainers at Hove had longer and more costly journeys to the track than the local lads, the prizemoney distribution there does prompt some serious head scratching.

Open race owners and trainers would say that Hove have their priorities in the wrong order while no doubt Hove’s defence would be that they are looking after their own. Hove is not the only track in the land where prizemoney distribution is awry, although they would claim that win money in the opens there is infinitely better than win prizemoney in graded races. We should think so too!

But our take on this is that the system/s is wrong, how could anyone justify, such as last night, an unplaced A5 dog rewarded with more prizemoney than the unplaced open racers, all of whom got just a pony!

The graded dogs are, of course, the bread and butter of tracks but it borders on insulting when you consider, for instance, that Matt Dartnall’s Blue Bee, who ran in a Hove open last night but earned just the £25 for finishing second, a far cry from the £15,000 she picked up when winning the Ladbroke Golden Jacket final at Crayford four months ago!

Even more curious is the fact that the three runners who finished behind Blue Bee picked up precisely the same amount.
 
 
DEVILACARE, not particularly well drawn in four in this Saturday’s £25,000 Bettor.com Northern Irish Derby final at Drumbo Park (550 yards), could pay back plenty for new owner, Larry O’Rourke of Berkshire, who purchased the dog over the weekend.

The September 10 puppy is by far the least experienced of the finalists but he was forward enough to win his opening two rounds of the competition though the sequence was halted last weekend when he ran second in the semi-finals, three lengths adrift of Captain Scolari.

A big race win for Devilacare would be nothing new for O’Rourke, who enjoyed much success in Britain in partnership with Eddie Costello in the 70s when they were among the leading owners for many years.

Hurry On Bran, who was around in the Indian Joe era, was one of their best and chased home the Indian in the 1980 English Derby final at White City. Thirty-odd years on and this time it could be a Derby celebration for O’Rourke in County Antrim.

The meeting is live on Sky and features a top class supporting card with races over all distance. The shortest, a two-bender, could go to John (Ginger) McGee’s Bulmers Baby, described by Drumbo’s assistant RM Ryan Rossborough, as “just about the best sprinter in Ireland.”

Castlegore Star, who won the marathon on this card twelve months ago in record time, is back for another pop while former IGB chairman, Paschal Taggart, will be hoping trainer Fraser Black can work the oracle with his Coolavanny Shine in the 575.