But it is well served for the flapping man

GREYHOUND fans in  Scotland have had little to smile about in recent years and things are no better  these days with Billy King’s Glasgow Shawfield the only GBGB track across the  border still in business.

But there was once  a time when Glasgow was well catered for with tracks, not only at Shawfield but  also Glasgow White City and Carntyne but these went off the radar yonks ago, as  did the only track in the capital, Powderhall in Edinburgh, home of the  prestigious Edinburgh Cup.

Quite how many  trainers down the years have been lost to NGRC racing, as it was in those days,  goodness knows, many quit the sport completely while others turned their attention to the independent scene, aka flapping.

Now we hear of  another Scottish-based GBGB trainer switching codes. Andy Johnston, whose  kennels are at Sanquhar in Dumfriesshire, says he has had enough of travelling  to and from Pelaw, his nearest ‘under rules track’ to which he was attached  until just a few days ago, and “getting home at three in the  morning.”

Johnston has  dozens of greyhounds throughout the UK and Ireland but says he can’t get his  runners on the card at Shawfield and while Pelaw served a purpose he is no  longer attached there and is unlikely to be in the future.

He says in today’s Racing Post “ . . . it seems the big trainers get everything and no one  wants to help the little fellows.” Quite what “everything” is for the big  trainers we’d dearly like to know for ask the likes of Paul Young and Mark  Wallis et al who would tell you that the game is floundering just now for  trainers no matter what their
denomination.

“Racing under rules has all become too much and there’s just no fun in it,” says Johnston, who  is now a free agent to run his dogs just where and when he wants to on the  flaps, although even the independents circuits have diminished in recent  years.

Perhaps one or two ‘up the straight tracks’ may stage a reconnaissance, the late, lamented likes of  Edgware, Loudwater and Aylesbury, now they were good and the panacea for  virtually trouble-free racing!

Johnston has half a dozen flaps within reasonable distance of his kennels, Gretna and Wheatley Hill to name but two. “I’ve got far more scope up here for racing my dogs on the flapping circuit than I have GBGB tracks, there is no red tape and it’s far more fun,” he concluded.



  



  



  



 

 
 
The first AGM of the GTA under the new chairman Ricky Holloway took place last night, Wednesday 29th August 2012, at Coventry Stadium at a well-attended meeting.

The meeting unanimously expressed a vote of no confidence in the current Practitioner Director of the GBGB, Mr John Haynes and instructed Holloway to write to the Board withdrawing support for Mr Haynes. There was also a unanimous view that grants to promoters for use in commercial upkeep and capital expenditure should cease and all such funding should be confined to improvements on track safety and welfare of the dogs and, any monies left over should be put to prize money. In another Holloway initiative and as per his manifesto the meeting agreed to open membership of the GTA to all greyhound trainers.

Holloway said: “This was a huge step forward for the industry. The members made it clear to me that they were determined to get an adequate commercial return for their product. We supply this industry with a product and we have never been adequately recompensed nor is there any negotiation process which protects the welfare of the racing greyhound.”

 
 
NEW Greyhound  Trainers’ Association (GTA) chairman, Ricky Holloway, today sends out an  impassioned plea to trainers of all denominations everywhere to attend this  Wednesday’s first ‘proper’ AGM at Coventry Stadium
for a 7pm  start.

Writing in the Racing Post Holloway says: “If trainers are happy with your lot then  fine, carry on. But if you feel, as the majority do in this country, that we  need a change of direction then make sure you’re at Coventry Stadium, your  industry needs you!”

The chairman  pledges that “I will battle for you, your prizemoney and your pay conditions but  in return you should display unity by showing your face, unlike before you will  be able to make a difference. The GTA must be a strong union which stands  together, I can’t do this alone.”

Strong stuff from  the new Wimbledon trainer but he gets the message across. There has been too  much apathy amongst trainers down the years but if Holloway delivers then things  could change for the better, surely they can’t get much  worse.

So get to Coventry  if you possibly can, get there, make a few noises and rattle a few cages.  However if, as in previous years, there is a poor turnout and subsequently ‘your  lot’ does not improve, as Holloway warns you will have only yourselves to  blame!

Under the new GTA  regime you guys and dolls have the chance to make things happen, it might prove  to be a long haul but you have a fighter at the helm and what he needs now are a  few good seconds in his corner. Stand up
and be counted, unlike Lady Godiva who  was sent to Coventry you should be
champing at the bit to get there under your  own steam.

 
 
BARRIE DRAPER’S  domination of major puppy events looks set to continue at Nottingham tonight  when he sends out Ballymac Eske for the final of the Caffreys Puppy Classic over  500 metres.

Runner-up to his  equally good, if not better, kennel companion Farloe Warhawk in the Wimbledon  Puppy Derby final, Ballymac Eske has bolted up  in his two qualifying races and  will go off a red-hot favourite, he is a general 1-5 shot with most of the  leading firms.

That he and  Warhawk have been starting at Ballyregan Bob-type prices is testament to this  talented pair of pups, Eske has won eight of his thirteen starts for Draper and  the Warhawk ten from twelve - and just wait for the day when Eske goes  staying!

Nothing is ever a  walk in the park in this game but galloping Nottingham seems ideal for Ballymac  Eske, who has not been turning right out of the boxes here as he did at  Wimbledon in the Puppy Derby.

On the clock he  has a ton in hand and it would be the turn up of the year should he be beaten  and an equally big surprise if Draper’s other finalist, Farley Seymour, were to  win. 

He is a February  2011 whelp and by far the baby of the race. The trainer feels he will make his  mark over a trip - the dam, Liaise With Lisa, got eight bends - and while he has  got this far it is nevertheless a surprise to his trainer, who is absolutely  delighted with is progress.

Dean Childs’ Droopys Ed Moses is also a finisher and would make a very decent hurdler if  taking after his namesake, a winner of two Olympic Golds in 1976 and 1984 and no  fewer than 107 consecutive finals!

Droopys English  runs for Tony Gifkins, Garlyn Rocky for Gerry Ballantine while Whittle Murtagh  hails from the in-form kennels of Kim Billingham but they all have it to do  against the Ballymac dog, what a year the Rotherham clan are  having!

 
 
NEWCASTLE trainer  Harry Williams won’t mind scoffing down the humble pie following the all-the-way  victory by his Mags Gamble in yesterday’s £10,000 Ladbrokes Gold Cup final at  Monmore, a race in which he had earlier stated the dog “has no  chance!”

But Williams’ prediction clearly fell on deaf ears as far as Mags Gamble was concerned as he  proceeded to romp home in the final, coming in almost seven lengths clear of Bit  View Mick and never seeing another rival.

The winning time  was 28.34sec. on going described as normal, an opinion which Charlie Lister did  not subscribe to. His two runners, Taylors Sky and Silverview Perky, occupied  the last two places and Lister said afterwards that it “was on the slow and  loose side and I reckon it gave an outside edge and I’m disappointed.” The  results overall, however, did not suggest a bias one way or  tother.

Williams didn’t  get to Monmore but did plenty of work on Mags Gamble in the five days leading up  to the final. “We worked him very hard and fairly threw the book at him so it  was very pleasing to see him win,” said the trainer.

Gamble’s next big  race objective will be the All England Cup at Newcastle in October. “We’ll leave  him off for a couple of weeks now and give him one or two one-off races before  Newcastle,” Williams concluded.

The strong-running  Granard Bound had the £5,000 August Festival 630 final sewn up for Stuart Mason  before the field had reached the first bend and he went on to make all in  beating Forest Bonjo by almost three lengths in 38.25sec.

There was a rare  early-pace buckle between Farloe Warhawk and Bittles Bar in the puppy open, the  two clear market leaders looking sure to stay at the head of affairs  throughout.

But Warhawk  started to waver approaching the third bend while Bittles Bar appeared to be  clipped from behind between the last two corners and his chance had gone.

Meanwhile, Kim  Billingham’s Final McCoy was closing in from the third corner and got up to beat  Barrie Draper’s Puppy Derby winner by a neck in 28.70sec. with Valentia Tango  staying on for third.

Lil Risky  continued to be as reliable as a pension in the sprint final, typically leading  all the way for Mark Wallis and holding on from Manilla Flash by half a  length.
 
 
We wouldn’t encourage folk to pop into their local betting shop on a regular basis but would today given that the best of the greyhound action takes place at Monmore’s BAGS meeting this afternoon.
 
It’s the finale there of the August Festival of racing and what a race it promises to be for the £10,000 to the winner Ladbrokes Gold Cup final (480 metres) in which last year’s Derby champion, Taylors Sky, may prove once more that there is life, and plenty of it, in the old dog yet.

Now well into his third year he could hardly be considered a veteran and certainly his two wins in the qualifying rounds suggest he is as good as he was last year when winning this competition by a comfortable near four lengths from Longwood Fantasy.

Taylors Sky is the only unbeaten runner in the competition this time round and in fact is also unbeaten in five races at the Wolverhampton track! Enough said probably but there is slight concern in the Charlie Lister camp over the presence of Farloe Ironman on the immediate inside of his dog in trap one.
 
The Matt Dartnall-trained runner has been breaking well here but been picked up, after leading, in both rounds. Taylors Sky is the stronger hound and if he avoids a collision with the Ironman then the race could be in safe keeping, but don’t dismiss the chances of Lister’s other finalist, Oaks winner Silverview Perky.

She briefly led her kennelmate in the semis but was soon brushed aside and chased home the Lister champion. Trouble inside would almost certainly play to her advantage and the Select Stakes winner is no forlorn hope, far from it.

The other big race on the card is the August Festival 630 final and here the Paul Sallis-trained Mark My Words may avenge his heat defeat by Farloe Mysterio in the heats, a race in which the Sallis runner missed the up and was always
fighting a losing battle. Far better drawn in one this afternoon Mark My Words should be much closer this time.

In the final of the race for puppies few will care to look beyond Puppy Derby winner Farloe Warhawk, who hails from a kennel which can do no wrong at present. Barrie Draper’s dog is in magnificent form and may get the better of an  early-paced battle with Bittles Bar, who was only six spots behind the Warhawk when both won their heats in times superior to the other finalists.
 
The sprint final over 416 metres may be best left to that standing order in these type of races, Lil Risky. He is an earlybird out of the top drawer and can atone for a costly defeat heat defeat and make this seven wins from his latest nine  races. 

 
 
WEDNESDAY’S Committee meeting of GOBATA members heard that negotiations had begun on the Sky contract and there was instant unanimous fury and frustration expressed by members that yet again the negotiations with SKY TV
for broadcasting greyhound racing were being conducted by a track promoter and not the supposed industry body, the GBGB.

In light of the promoter’s reported views, as highlighted in Item 3 of the minutes of the GOBATA meeting last night, this was seen as highly unsatisfactory.

The GOBATA committee felt that this yet again demonstrated that the governing body of the sport had no real authority and was further proof that it is the promoters who make the decisions and that the GBGB was merely a
vehicle for the promoters to continue their control over the industry at the expense of the practitioners. 
  
 
 
BOHERDUFF EMMO wouldn’t appear to be many people’s idea of a greyhound to follow because the August 08 whelp appeared to have had not a single supporter when she ran in an A7 graded event over 420 metres at Peterborough last night.
 
Whether Peterborough are short of dogs generally or just short in the A7 department we are unsure but to say that the Emmo was friendless in the market would be the understatement of the year!

Drifting further than the Kon-Tiki, Boherduff Emmo went off a 500-1 (yes, 500-1) chance and that, to the best of our knowledge, is the biggest ever graded runner price of all time!

Where did Emmo finish you might well ask, answer is that she didn’t exactly pull up trees, coming home fifth and more than eleven lengths off the winner, Ramspur Maxie, the 11-10 favourite, who beat 5-4 chance Dream Classic.

What comes next for Emmo, a drop in grade (if that’s possible?) or thoughts of retirement by her trainer, Pauline Spragg, who has kennels near Coventry. 
 
Whatever she decides, fact is that her old timer has given her plenty of fun down the years and we’re sure that Mrs Spragg wouldn’t have given a hoot about the SP, embarrassing though it was, particularly for the racing office!

Deanridge Woody boasts the doubtful distinction of finishing behind Emmo (bumped first bend) in last place . . . and that was with a clear run!

 
 
“No option but to put him out of his misery,”Savva

GREYHOUND racing is full of its ups and downs and for Nick Savva at Sittingbourne last night it was sadly the worst moment he has “ever experienced in the sport.”

Less than 20 minutes after Westmead Maldini ran the race of his life for the Dunstable trainer in winning the Cearns Memorial Invitation race out on parade came Savva’s Westmead Adonis in his bid to win the Kent St Leger.
 
A red hot favourite to take the title, Adonis’s race lasted no more than a few seconds after he was baulked at the first bend and then knocked over at the quarter, a collision which left the Wimbledon Derby finalist with a shattered
off foreleg.
 
It was soon clear that this was an irreparable injury and Savva was compelled to agree with the track vet to put Adonis to sleep. “I have never seen an injury like it in all my time in the game,” said a clearly shaken Savva this morning.
 
“It was too bad to try and save him, it was hopeless, and the vet and I decided that the kindest thing to do was to put Adonis out of his misery. I couldn’t really see how it all happened, I had two dogs in the final and was over by the pick-up and miles away from where the accident occurred.”
 
While the Savva camp were left shell-shocked, connections of Ballycowen Dave were celebrating the dog’s victory in the Derby final. On-holiday winning trainer Chris Allsopp wasn’t there to see the race but would have been impressed with his runner, who flew out of the traps and never saw another rival. 

The loss of Westmead Adonis was a tragic end to what was an otherwise satisfactory night for Savva who, having seen the nothing if not game Westmead Maldini win the Invitation, would have been impressed by his potential marathon star, Bubbly Swallow, who cut down a five-lengths start to Blonde Fletch to less than a length at the line, the pair finishing clear of the pack in the six-bender.

Hove trainer Derek Knight was missing for most of the night at Sittingbourne, it was rumoured he went into town for a meal, but he nevertheless quickly appeared on the scene to see his Baran Bally Hi romp home in the Cearnsport Grand National final.

While the usually quick starters in the big race missed the kick, no such problem for the Knight runner, who showed pace up, jumped well and cruised home to a near five-length win from Faithful Ranger with the slowly away Olivers Twist running on for third.

It wasn’t the time for favourite Lenson Teddy to slip into a coma in the boxes, Tony Collett’s dog led all the way in his heat and semi-final of the National but absolutely walked out of the traps and was never seen with a chance. He
brought home the milk!

In a Sky interview with Gary Newbon, Sittingbourne promoter Roger Cearns took the opportunity to have a snipe at the GBGB. After stating that the crowds at Sittingbourne have been good at the track this year he was critical of the near
£100,000 his track forks out to the ruling body in special licence fees to the ruling body.

These are fees due to the GBGB for the ‘privilege’ of staging BAGS meetings and other televised racing, including Sky, but it occurs to us that the boot should be on the other foot with the GBGB paying the tracks on Sky for showcasing the sport.
  
“I said to GBGB chairman Maurice Watkins that the special licence fees are clearly too much,”said Cearns. It will be interesting to see if a response is forthcoming from Watkins, but we are not holding our breath!


 
 
 
Oh, and the Grand National decider is also on the Sittingbourne card
 
SITTINGBOURNE are well prepared for what should be their biggest night of the year this evening when the Medway track features the finals of both the John Smiths Kent St Leger and the Cearnsport Grand National (see other Sittingbourne story on here).
 
Though you won’t, at this stage, get a seat in the restaurant (the house full signs went up a few of days ago) there will be plenty of room for all on the terraces at the expansive Central Park Stadium, one of the best race-viewing tracks in
the country.
 
Last year‘s Kent Derby champion, the Mark Wallis-trained Jazz Apollo, was unlucky to go out in the semi-finals this time around but what a race he and the ill-fated Local Dee Jay provided in the final 12 months ago when the Apollo got to grips with the Dee Jay close home. The Wallis dog, incidentally, runs in the Cearns Memorial Invitation, which precedes the big one tonight.
 
Wallis, just for once, is not represented in the final but Kelly Findlay, trainer of  Local Dee Jay, most certainly is. She runs Helenas Sailor, a semi-final winner, but who has a bit to find on the clock if he is to repeat the dose.
 
The form students will agonise over the eventual outcome of this and while the bookies would have you believe that it’s a cinch for Westmead Adonis, who is accompanied in the final by his Savva-trained kennelmate Westmead Shaw, it
could go any way.
 
Like  Savva, Chris Allsopp is also doubly represented, by Rusheen Major and Ballycowen Dave, and the Monmore trainer is a dab hand when it comes to big race finals, so dismiss his chances at your peril.
 
The nine-day gap between the semis and the final will hopefully set a precedent to other tracks, some of whom we feel can’t wait to get this business of open  racing over and done with quickly enough.

So who will win the Kent Derby? A good question and we wish we had the answer but we are siding with Westmead Adonis in trap one. Success here would be some consolation for his defeat in Blonde Snapper’s Derby final at Wimbledon when he was stopped in his tracks at the first bend as Coolavanny Bert and Taylors Sky had a big time coming together.
 
Get the pin out is the advice in the Grand National final but the layers see the race as a match between Olivers Twist and Lenson Teddy, but when was there ever a time when a race for hurdlers was predictable?

The local lad, Tony Collett, bears the burden of our selection with Lenson Teddy, a quick starter drawn in six and with a kipper on his inside in the shape of Faithful Ranger, sluggish or what at the start! Teddy puts his head down and
gets on with things, he did not see another rival in his heat and semi-final!

Fair play to all at Sittingbourne in staging a fascinating not to mention top class programme, and talking of programmes if, for some unearthly reason, you won’t be going to Sittingbourne, the meeting is on Sky.
 
We’re on our way to Kent.