THE Racing Post's Bruce Millington is not a one for pulling his punches and in his column today he takes a swipe at those who we know as the 'antis,' those people who seek every opportunity to criticise greyhound racing without the feintest clue about the sport or/and how well racing greyhounds are treated.
Millington writes: "There are many ways one can waste one's time, but few can be more utterly pointless than protesting that greyhound racing is cruel." He goes on to cite Sunday's awards ball in Manchester where around 100 people gathered to shout abuse at the guests, not because they were wearing tuxedos and dickie bows but because they work in or love greyhound racing.
"But in setting their sights on greyhound racing these 'campaigners' are barking up the wrong tree. I had 11 wonderful years working in the sport, first as a track official and then a reporter and a theme of that happy period was the sheer love that shone from human to canine."
"For the vast majority of its four-legged participants greyhound racing means lives filled with love, good food, good health and fun. Those who protest at greyhound tracks or functions like the one on Sunday clearly mean well but their good intentions could be better translated into real help for the dog world by them accepting greyhound racing is not a problem area and finding more deserving causes for their efforts."
And so say all of us Bruce!
RICKY HOLLOWAY'S Airforce General is rated a 25-1 chance by the Racing Post to win tonight's £5,000 Prestige final at Hall Green (live on Sky Sports 4) and, from a tricky trap three draw and as the senior member of the field, the bookmakers may have their assessment close to the mark.
The General goes into the final having been trounced in his heat a week ago and a change of scenery at Crayford at the weekend where he was crowded throughout in an untidy race, suggest the odds on offer tonight tend to reflect his chances - slim say many pundits!
Yes, it is hard to make a case for him and the race looks very much a match between the Belle Vue-trained Senior Cup and Blonde Razor, who will be out to pile on more points for Mark Wallis in the trainers' championship table, for which he is favourite to successfully defend his crown this year.
And we are sticking with the Wallis dog, despite the fact that a trap five draw will have a good few punters prepared to take him on, and they may well be right! Much will depend on the break but Blonde Razor, although not the fastest starter on the planet, nevertheless has a good turn of early foot and he is fancied to be ahead of the bunch at the first bend - and to stay there!
NO change at the top of the Ladbrokes Greyhound Trainers' table from last week with Mark Wallis (see below) running away with the lead on 92 points for£8525 in prizemoney at this early stage.
Ernie Gaskin sits in second spot with 27 points (£2800) with Heather Dimmock third on 14 and the rest of the pack bunching up behind and seemingly with a mountain to climb if they are to chip into Wallis's lead.
MARK WALLIS has been very fast away in defence of his 2013 Trainer of the Year title and is already clear of the pack this time around on 84 points, due in no small part to firing home the first four in last week's Coronation Cup final at Romford, some performance that!
Wallis, who will be presented with the champion trainers' crown at the big GBGB annual awards bash in Manchester on Sunday, is as thirsty for winners as ever he was and probably could do with a mortgage to help cover the travelling expenses incurred in his relentless pursuit of open race winners.
Ernie Gaskin jnr, well schooled was he, sits in second spot with 59 points while the fairer sex, in the form of Heather Dimmock and Maxine Lock, are chasing the boys in third and fourth respectively.
But as far as Ladbrokes are concerned it's almost a formality that Wallis will retain his title, the magic sign rate him a 4-6 chance (from 4-5) and we've still got 11 months to go before we turn over the 2014 leaf!
FORMER Oxford racIng manager Mick Wheble could talk the hind legs off a donkey and he was in fine form at a meeting of Oxford City Council on Wednesday where plans to develop the Blackbird Lees track in favour
of a housing development were rejected.
Proposals were put forward for a 220 homes development of the track site where racing was discontinued in
December 2012 and which has been dormant ever since.
But the 'new' owners of Oxford, Risk Capital and Galliard Homes, who purchased the track from the GRA, would hardly have been heartened by the fact that their plans were unanimously rejected while Wheble was cockahoop with the outcome of the meeting.
Whichever way the future of Oxford Stadium goes, greyhound fans already owe a big vote of thanks to Wheble for his passionate opposition to the development.
However, the fight to save Oxford could still prove to be a long, drawn out battle but Wheble and his troops are giving their all and will hardly go down without a fight!
NO joy at Belle Vue last night for both Eden Star and Droopys Loner whose attempts to go out of racing in a blaze of glory were thwarted.
Both greyhounds were running their final races but Barry Draper's Eden Star had to settle for second behind Pat Rosney's Mileheight Alba in the Laurels final while Dean Childs' Droopys Loner, running in her third Oaks final, ran fifth behind Droopys Danneel.
The meeting was sponsored by Irish-based P J Fahey and in a nice touch by Belle Vue all greyhounds wore green parade jackets. It was a splendid night's racing so hopefully Fahey might be tempted to come back for more of the
same next year.
TONIGHT'S big double-header meeting at Belle Vue will be tinged with sadness as it will mark the last for Bob Rowe in his capacity as group racing manager for the GRA.
He retires at the end of next month, having completed 50 years service with the country's largest track owning
company, and his expertise will be a loss to the sport.
That said, we are reasonably sure that he will be on hand to assist fellow racing managers, should the need be, with any intricacies they may run up against in the day job.
Helpful, affable and a gentleman to boot we wish Bob a long and happy retirement, no doubt which much of his 'spare' time will be spent on the fairways at his local golf course - he's not bad at that either!
THE Dunham greyhound centre run by Jane and Dave Houfton expects to be back in business this weekend after a week off due to last week's storm which caused extensive damage nationwide.
"It was the worst storm I've ever known, it even tried to rip the roof off our barn but, hopefully, we should be back by Saturday," said Jane.
"The storm put us out of business for a week but, all being well, we should be up and running again by the weekend and one blessing was that the judges' box stayed intact!" she added from the kennels at Darlton Newark in
MARK WALLIS, who weighed in with open race winners at Nottingham and Romford last night, has drawn 22 points clear of Charlie Lister in the Ladbrokes Trainer Of The Year table and is on course to land the title with just three scoring weeks remaining this year.
The Yarmouth attached trainer is on 898 points thanks to his 201 winners so far this year while Lister in turn is 35 points clear of Paul Young, who looks assured of finishing 'in the frame' and who also looks a good thing to take third spot ahead of Keith Allsopp. The chasing pack appear to have little chance of dislodging the leaders.
Have dogs will travel Young has sent out 200 winners (841 points) and still counting while the rest of the 'field' are comparatively tailed off despite their gallant pursuit of winners.
JUST one significant move in the Ladbrokes Greyhound Trainers' Championship table last week and it saw previous champion Mark Wallis leapfrog Chris Allsopp into third place on 781 points, 24 points ahead of Allsopp. Wallis
was the highest scorer last week with 55 points and he has sent out the most open race winners this year, 193.
But it is as you were at the top of table with Charlie Lister leading the field with 839 points for his 141 wins with Paul Young still churning out the winners in second spot and just 22 points behind pacemaking Charlie OBE but Young has not given up the chase, the Romford trainer has a powerful team of runners and will travel far and wide in his effort to pull back Lister.
There was a total of 68 opens last week (including three finals) carrying a total of 245 points but it is difficult to envisage any major changes in the table, even though it is getting tough at the top - can Lister hang on?