Top-class open racing is well and truly back.
This week sees the start of the RPGTV All England Cup at Newcastle on Thursday and the Coral Sussex Cup and Regency at Hove on Thursday. In between, Romford hosts its usual Friday fare, while on Sunday the Colossus Bets Silver Salver Final takes place at Central Park.
And what a fantastic event that has proved to be. A real bonus, literally.
Rescheduled from March, big-race backer Bernard Marantelli has certainly spiced things up by offering a £10,000 bonus on top of the first prize of £3,000 - so good luck to the three unbeaten runners going for a £13,000 windfall on Sunday.
Marantelli promises some fun in the run-up to the weekend by offering connections of each a cash-out option ahead of their hat-trick bid - albeit he will be presumably hoping one of the other three runners could spoil the party!
For the record Shrewd Call (David Mullins), King Drake (Liz McNair) and Ballynabee Lucky (Samantha West) are the three unbeaten runners heading into Sunday’s live-on-RPGTV final at the Kent track.
However, Coolavanny Dylan, Druids Brazona and Grays Cup Winner will no pushovers. It’s a cracking final and should be a good watch.
Before then, attention turns to an All England Cup without longtime Derby favourite and defending champion Ice On Fire, who was injured in a home gallop last week and has since travelled to Ireland and back for specialised treatment.
His career remains in doubt, but connections have not given up hope.
The entry for the Newcastle event remains top-class, however, and will certainly have an impact on the Derby betting - as will the Sussex Cup, so it was encouraging for supporters of Bockos Doomie to see him bolt home in a trial stakes at Hove last weekend.
Patrick Janssens’ powerhouse is towards the top of the Derby market, but will have the 515m annual on his radar first - on what should be a brilliant Sussex Cup given the likes of Smallmead, King Sheeran and Sparta Master among the opposition.
The Regency heats share centre-stage with the Sussex Cup on a quite outstanding card on the south coast this weekend. It will again be a great watch, albeit behind closed doors as tracks continue to negotiate with local councils on any reopening.
It seems some councils will and some won’t when it comes to relaxing restrictions, with reports that stock car racing in East Anglia might go ahead with a crowd. Hopefully that bodes well for Yarmouth in the coming weeks - especially given the holiday period!
Nottingham is another track with a keen eye on the current situation given it stages the rescheduled Star Sports & ARC Greyhound Derby in October.
Either way, it was fantastic to hear that trial stakes for the Classic will start again from August 10. Of course, before lockdown the Colwick Park track had staged a few prep races for the Derby - so it’s deja vu at Nottingham on Mondays from next month!
It is also encouraging to learn that the Select Stakes and Eclipse, two of Nottingham’s great events, have not yet completely been shelved for 2020.
Time restraints will make things difficult given the Greyhound Derby final is now Saturday October 31, but an early November Select Stakes and an Eclipse in late November/early December might still work - fingers crossed. They are two superb and historic competitions.
Talking of historic competitions, the Oaks could be next on the agenda when it comes to arranging the remaining big-race fixtures for 2020.
The bitches’ Classic has been staged at Swindon for the past two years and hopes remain that it will be hosted again at the Blunsdon circuit this year. However, nothing is certain as yet, especially given the current behind-closed-doors situation and the failure of sister track Poole to reopen post-lockdown.
However, trainers of the leading bitches are keen for something to be worked out. A lack of major events forced the hand of a few trainers to send their top-class bitches to Ireland for opportunities there. It is hoped an end-of-season Oaks can be added to the GBGB Calendar - albeit sponsorship remains key.
Linked to the above is Kevin Hutton, who sent a few racers to Ireland for their major competitions including his brilliant Headford Ranger. It was therefore desperately sad to learn of the Steel City Cup winner’s passing after he suffered a pulmonary embolism. Thoughts with Kevin and part-owner Tony Brealey.
Finally, contact details for the GOSH two-day golf extravaganza at Stapleford Abbots, Essex, on September 16-17.
Staged to support the Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity, the event has been once again organised by Maurice Newman who has promised the usual array of sporting personalities will be attending.
Maurice is looking for sponsorship as well as teams to compete across the two days. Individual hole sponsorship is available at £500, with teams wanted at £50 a head which includes coffee and bacon rolls for breakfast, plus lunch.
Anyone wanting to play needs to contact Beth at Stapleford Abbots on 01708 381108, with further sponsorship details from Maurice or John Fox, a GOSH Ambassador, via firstname.lastname@example.org.
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