Jonathan Hobbs looks back on the weekend which saw Bower Luke take a starring role, while he also welcomes the return of racing to Yarmouth.
A fantastic weekend’s racing saw four GBGB Category One events concluded, so it’s well done to Bower Luke, Bockos Doomie, Zascandil and Swift Loki - all of whom hit top form quickly - and successfully - given open-racing only resumed post-lockdown on July 1.
Thursday’s victory for Bower Luke in the £8,000 RPGTV All England Cup Final at Newcastle was superb for owner Tommy Smith, but even better for the dog’s handler Pat Rosney as he landed his second ‘North East Derby’ after Newinn Yolo’s win in 2014.
Rosney is steeped in Belle Vue history, so the loss of the Manchester track would have been felt more at this Leyland kennels than most - he was passionate about the place. Rosney has since switched his strength to Perry Barr and is getting his share of winners.
As for Bower Luke, the Derby is very much on the agenda, as it is for Bockos Doomie as the Patrick Janssens-trained star racked up a 12th successive victory at Hove as he maintained his unbeaten record there with a cracking win in the £10,000 final.
Bockos Doomie has now won 19 of his 24 career starts, with success in last year’s Henlow Puppy Derby also on his CV. And those defeats? He was second to Forest Alan in the Kent Derby Final, beaten a whisker, with his other four losses all at Nottingham.
However, it should be remembered three of those defeats came in the first three rounds of last year’s Derby as a raw, inexperienced but extremely talented pup. Bev Lochhead and Austin Whelan’s dog later finished fourth in the Puppy Classic heats there - but what a heat!
The ill-fated Headford Ranger won that race, subsequent Greyhound of the Year Ice On Fire was second and the talented Droopys Cannon was third. Bockos Doomie, who was crowded out, finished fourth - but he surely opens his Notts account soon.
However, don’t expect Bockos Doomie in one of the early Star Sports & Arc Greyhound Derby Trial Stakes, starting on Monday (yes, another batch of trial stakes after March’s series), given Janssens is heading to Monmore for the Ladbrokes Gold Cup with him.
Also Monmore-bound is Zascandil as owner-trainer Kevin Boon made it eight GBGB Category One wins in eight years of training when winning a thrilling Coral Regency Final at Hove on Saturday as part of a terrific big-race double header on the south coast.
Zascandil, a litter brother of another Regency finalist in Southfield Code, had looked the part in beating Golden Jacket heroine Swift Sandie at Hove in March, but really came of age in the £10,000 Hove final as he came again strongly to deny the game Affleck Lady.
Swift Loki’s career started inauspiciously when he was disqualified in his first race at Yarmouth, but having come through clearing trials for Barry O’Sullivan - before becoming the latest star to be schooled over hurdles by him - Swift Loki never looked back.
Bought out of O’Sullivan’s kennels by trainer James Turner and part-owner Patrick Rugg following the handler’s move from Perry Barr to Crayford, where they commendably encourage trainers to supply hurdlers as well as flat dogs, Swift Loki progressed to win Sunday’s RPGTV Champion Hurdle.
Lockdown has been tough for a huge number of people who have suffered personal and tragic loss - and the training ranks has suffered its fair amount of devastating loss, human and canine, during this time. Turner is one of those, having lost his mother.
Swift Loki’s victory over Droopys Trawler and the gallant Billericay Blue was understandably well received therefore and Central Park can expect him to be in the Grand National line-up later this year. Plans for that competition will be finalised soon.
Next Shrewd move being considered
Still with Central Park, the recent Colossus Bets Kent Silver Salver remained talk of the track and training circles given the £10,000 bonus paid by the sponsor to the owner of winner Shrewd Call after his unbeaten run through the GBGB Category Two event.
The David Mullins-trained, Kelly Searle-owned runner has since won heat and final of the sprint competition at Hove supporting the Sussex Cup and Regency and various high-profile events such as the Night of Stars at Shelbourne Park are now being targeted.
He is proving a real money-spinner for backers, as well as connections, with trainer Mullins also picking up an additional £450 from Colossus, who pledged to pay the winning handler 15 per cent on top of the original £3,000 first prize.
Best wishes on reopening night
Good luck to Yarmouth on its low-key reopening tonight.
Monday’s original date was shelved due to updated government guidelines, but the go-ahead was given by the local council to reopen the popular east coast track to a number of paying customers who have pre-booked in the restaurant and executive boxes.
August and September are Yarmouth’s most important months in terms of revenue with the seaside resort full of holidaymakers and the income is crucial to its future.
The owning Franklin family have been in regular contact with the local council and could pave the way for other tracks to return to some sort of normality for their businesses - in a move which will be welcomed by owners especially.
Young guns blazing
There was a good reaction to the footage sent by Steve Katz of a batch of Magical Bale pups playing in the paddock.
The Towcester TV man - yes it’s back soon! - reports the litter in good form. The eight pups, by Magical Bale out of his own Lemming Boleyn, are now 13 weeks old and are being reared by Sean Conway in Ireland.
Incidentally, Katz reports that Lemming Boleyn’s first litter by Droopys Sydney are now approaching racing age and are with trainers Matt Dartnall, Jason Bloomfield, Michelle Brown and Ernie Upton.
Finally, talking of pups, good news that two brand-new events are in the latest edition of the GBGB Calendar.
They are both named The Brinkleys Poet At Stud Young Guns - sponsored by the former Gymcrack and Select Stakes winner’s owner Nic Jeal - and will be staged in September at Sheffield and Central Park (October final).
Both are worth £3,000 to the winner and are GBGB Category Two events, helping trainers both in the north and south with above-average youngsters looking ahead to the major events of 2021.