Get the latest news from the world of Greyhound racing, including the upcoming Essex Vase Final at Romford and a brand new RPGTV schedule.
Friday's Coral Essex Vase Final at Romford kick-starts the big-race season in greyhound racing. The first Category One competition of the year, it will feature a host of major race winners plus the track record holder.
Last week’s three semi-finals of the £10,000 comp were won by Sharon Thompson’s Sparta Master (34.77sec), Mark Wallis’s Antigua Romeo (35.32sec) and Ernie Gaskin’s Droopys Aoife (35.09sec).
It means the 2019 Essex Vase champion (Droopys Aoife) bids to regain the title, while Desperado Dan aims to complete the full set of Romford 575m titles having won the Coronation Cup and Champion Stakes during his career.
Desperado Dan is trained by champion trainer Patrick Janssens, who is doubly handed given 2019 Monmore Gold Cup winner Seaglass Tiger is also in the decider.
Mark Wallis has two chances with last year’s Coronation Cup winner Antigua Rum and kennelmate Antigua Romeo, while track record holder Sparta Master completes the field in what will be his third Essex Vase final bid.
Towcester's go-it-alone stance with the upcoming Blue Riband - heats take place on Saturday - will coincide with the launch of Towcester TV.
Not broadcast on either SIS or RPGTV, some owners had suggested they would run their greyhounds in the Blue Riband for no prize-money or would happily pay entry fee, but the Northamptonshire venue have confirmed that all prize-money for the heats of the Blue Riband will be paid to owners.
Promoter Kevin Boothby said: “I have been bowled over my the calls and texts I have received from owners showing their support for Towcester by offering not to take the heat prize-money. There is no chance of that happening though - they pay good money for their dogs and should receive all prize-money.”
Towcester plans to stream the heats and semi-finals of the Blue Riband on Saturday - January 23 and January 30 on Towcester TV - with viewers able to subscribe for £5 per night.
Boothby added: “We have no media contract currently in place for these Saturday nights so are going to give it a go.
“We have all the infrastructure in place to trial this for the heats and semis. It’s our intention to hold top-class open racing every Saturday night and I’ve brought in Nathan Corden to help with that side of things.
“It’s clear he loves his open racing and has already got a few sponsors lined up, so if there are any other sponsors out there who are interested in coming on board then they can contact Nathan via email@example.com and help make Towcester the home of open racing in the UK.”
Still on Towcester, a number of hopefuls for the Blue Riband warmed up for the Category One event on Sunday.
Fastest was the Richard Yeates-trained Faughan Rebel (29.95sec) ahead of Diane Henry’s Savana Darn Hot (29.99sec) and Mark Wallis’s Sober Express (30.06).
Others to note were Savana Cody’s 30.10sec, while Irish Derby finalist Kilara Icon posted 30.17sec. That time was matched by Black Eyed Molly and Sharp Darcy.
TV Trophy champion Aayamza Royale was also put through her paces over 500m, clocking 30.38sec.
A brand new RPGTV schedule will be introduced on February 1 following a media rights deal struck with SIS.
It means a return to the service of Henlow and Doncaster, along with other SIS staples Harlow, Central Park, Towcester (Fridays) and the four LadbrokesCoral tracks of Hove, Monmore, Romford and Crayford.
It means the likes of Nottingham, Yarmouth, Perry Barr, Sheffield, Newcastle, Swindon and Sunderland will leave the service at the end of the month, although will remain part of the TRP online and betting shop schedule.
Talk of a rival Arc-backed ‘TV product’ continues with Sky Sports Racing having recently successfully trialled Swindon meetings on Thursday nights.
Kinsley is to stage a sponsored meeting in support of the family of one of their trainers Ron Harwood, who sadly died on Saturday.
The meeting is intended to raise funds towards funeral arrangements and a fundraising page has also been set up.