Our columnist returns with news of the Golden Jacket and this weekend's awards ceremony
Jonathan Hobbs is back with more from the world of greyhound racing

Jonathan Hobbs on greyhound racing including Towcester, Greyhound of the Month award and more

Brand new heavyweights

Towcester stages the next major final in the greyhound calendar with next week’s TRC Health and Hygiene Northamptonshire Sprint, live on SportyStuffTV/RPGTV, set to be a cracker.

Bockos Jon Jo was again impressive in Tuesday’s semis and now eyes a big-race double after landing the Coral Golden Sprint last month at Romford.

His trainer Patrick Janssens is now back at Towcester, so Bockos Jon Jo carries local hopes, and takes on, among others, the GBGB Sprinter of the Year in Shrewd Call in what looks a classy Category One decider - for what is a brand new event.

Greyhounds Tips & Selections | Romford | Friday 9th April

Towcester rightly received the plaudits when it rolled out details of numerous major Category One competitions it has planned in 2021, an exciting list of events which includes the Star Sports Greyhound Derby, of course.

Add to those last week’s three-way marathon ‘Shootout’, an innovation management are keen to repeat should the desire be there among connections and greyhound enthusiasts - as well as racegoers when they return to the picturesque venue.

On that, Towcester has joined Sheffield in announcing that owners will be allowed to see their greyhounds in person at the track next week - well ahead of the general relaxing of restrictions on May 17. Both tracks should be commended for their efforts.

Others will follow, which is great, and owners should get in touch with their trainers to book places at their track.

Incidentally, look out for another high-profile addition to the training ranks at Towcester. Mark Wallis and Patrick Janssens rejoined the Northamptonshire venue when it reopened and they could be joined soon by a familiar adversary!

Bonus hunting

Still with Towcester, GAIN Greyhound Nutrition are supporting new sales auction company Greyhound Trader with a special bonus for greyhounds bought at their sales.

Any greyhound who wins either the Derby, St Leger or Oaks will receive a £10,000 bonus.

Nathan Corden of Greyhound Trader said: “It’s a fantastic bonus and we are extremely grateful for the support shown by GAIN Greyhound Nutrition. I’m sure there will be a few interested vendors sending greyhounds for our Pre-Derby Sale at Towcester on April 21.”

Sean Traynor, UK business manager, GAIN Greyhound Nutrition, commented: “We’re delighted to support this initiative in association with Greyhound Trader. The bonus will see both vendor and owner recognised and be in with a chance of winning £5,000 each.”

Prize money problems

Super Tuesday this week saw the action at Towcester on SportyStuffTV/RPGTV coincide with four heats of the Arena Racing Company Grand Prix at Sunderland, live on Sky Sports Racing, which has been reintroduced to the schedule as a Category Two event.

It forms part of a comprehensive list of major events for 2021 across the Arc tracks - and the return of the Grand Prix is certainly a welcome addition to the schedule.

Sunderland’s former owners William Hill had backed what became a night second only to the Derby in terms of prize-money on offer when it hosted the Classic/Grand Prix double-headers at Sunderland - huge nights on Sky Sports.

We are not at that level, clearly, but open-race action at Sunderland is most certainly welcome and hopefully can be expanded on. However, Mark Keightley is keen for things to be improved - especially when it comes to prize-money for three-round events.

After seeing the kennel’s Ballydoyle Bee produce a stunning off-the-pace effort after crowding to win her heat on Tuesday, Keightley, husband of trainer Hayley, said while he was thrilled with the performance he had other concerns.

“Look, we are always grateful for any sponsorship, of course,” he said, “but I can’t help thinking the industry needs a wake-up call when it comes to open racing.

“I find it very worrying - and quite disturbing - that connections are asked to attend Sunderland a minimum of three times to try and win this now Category Two event and be awarded with £100 should they finish either third, fourth, fifth or sixth in the final.

“On that basis we might be best to grade her on somewhere soon, perhaps to complete with A5 dogs where she’d pick up pretty similar money - much closer to home, too.

“And don’t think I’m singling out Sunderland or Arc here, I’m not. I see this happening at a lot of tracks, too many if I’m being truthful, and open racing needs to be looked at and encouraged - and supported with decent prize-money.”

On Ballydoyle Bee’s performance, he said: “Bee had been sidelined and kept ticking over waiting for the six-bend comps to ramp up again.

“I thought she performed tenaciously, albeit in a winning timing considerably slower than other heats. However I’m not too concerned about that because given a clear path she’ll compete with anything in the competition given the chance.

“She will always grab victory given the opportunity and, even more importantly, can grab victory from the jaws of defeat!

“That basically was her look round to familiarise herself with Sunderland and will stand her in good stead for next week.”

Award nominees revealed

Well done to the connections of the following five greyhounds who have earned nominations for the RPGTV/GWA Greyhound of the Month for March.

They are:

  • Bockos Jon Jo for Patrick Janssens and Bev Lochead.
  • Desperado Dan for Patrick Janssens and Evan Herbert.
  • Frainey Forever for Belinda Green and owners Gary and Lee Whittington, Terry Green and Belinda herself.
  • King Louis for trainer Liz McNair and the KSS Syndicate.
  • Jaguar Macie for trainer Graham Rankin and Tony Armstrong.

The winner, decided by the GWA membership, will be announced next week.

Grand National news!

Central Park will introduce a consolation final for this year’s RPGTV Grand National.

The hurdlers’ Classic closes to entries on Wednesday, April 21, with heats on Sunday, April 25. A first prize of £7,500 will be won on final night on Sunday, May 9, and all the action will be SportyStuffTV/RPGTV.

Announcing this boost for owners and trainers of hurdlers, Central Park promoter Roger Cearns said: “We had a fantastic Springbok and a final where the result was in doubt right to the end. Well done to David and Julie Mullins - and Droopys Rex!

“I’m sure Rex and the Mullins team will be back for the RPGTV Grand National and their attempt to win the second leg of the jumps’ triple crown - and they might decide to prepare him for that with a run in a trial stakes here if that suits their plans.

“I thought this year’s Springbok was a good competition in terms of quality of jumping and competitive racing. Given we had no outside sponsor this year it was very much Central Park’s and thanks to all my team in difficult circumstances.

“But we’re always looking at things and take constructive opinion on board and something that might have improved the final night card even more would have been a Springbok consolation - Seamus Cahill (trainer) said as such, and he’s right.

“We’ll look to introduce one for RPGTV Grand National 2021 Final night on Sunday, May 9, plus we’re also planning to stage Grand National trial stakes.”

Lots to like in Laurels

Before then top-class racing continues on Thursday (tonight) with the start of the Arena Racing Company Laurels at Perry Barr.

It’s a top-class entry for this famous competition, which has a long history dating back to Wimbledon, so once again well done to Arc and Perry Barr for returning the event back to the schedule.

This is a Category One competition with a host of top-notch performers across six heats, so catch the action on Sky Sports Racing tonight.

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