Jonathan Hobbs is back with his latest greyhounds column, with a special tribute paid to the brilliant Bockos Doomie.
What a rollercoaster week in the world of greyhound racing - but twas ever thus!
Some great performances on the track and some positive announcements off it was tempered by the loss of Bockos Doomie and thoughts were certainly with Patrick Janssens and the team this week.
What a dog Doomie was.
A real champion and magnificent stamp of a greyhound, last year’s Coral Sussex Cup champion was one of the most eye-catching runners to have graced the track. A strapping white and black, he could also run. Boy, he could run.
A precocious youngster, he ran in the 2019 Derby in only his third race and, while Nottingham was never a track that played to his strengths, he made the third round, finishing behind two Derby winners in Braveheart Bobby and Dorotas Wildcat.
Lofty company for this raw pup, but he never looked out of place and a later victory in the Henlow Puppy Derby underlined the class that connections - Team Janssens, plus owners Bev Lochead, Graham Box and Austin Whelan - always knew he had.
He dined at the top table throughout his career, with a surge of pace to the bend invariably winning his races, although his back-straight pace was the real joy to behold. And at Hove he was unbeatable - literally.
Bockos Doomie raced 14 times at the Sussex venue, winning each and every time to maintain a brilliant overall strike-rate which ultimately saw him victorious in 22 of his 31 starts. Sorry, Wednesday does not count for his career stats.
And in such a tight year when it comes to Greyhound of the Year, a slight setback after winning his semi-final of the Coral Olympic at Hove at the back-end of last year which resulted him missing the final could have proved decisive.
Victory in that final - and please don’t take this as an affront to winner Newinn Jacko - would have given Bockos Doomie the second GBGB Category One success of the year and he would have been right in the mix. He was a hot favourite for the Hove final.
That of course is now conjecture and not on the minds of those at the Janssens kennel. The boss himself, champion trainer it should be remembered, admitted lots of tears had been shed by all his team and that he wasn't able to talk to anyone for a good while.
That is hardly a surprise. Doomie was the kennel’s flag-bearer and best wishes go all at their Thetford base.
It's all change this week at RPGTV with a new studio and new schedule following a five-year deal with SIS.
The seven-nights-a-week channel begins tomorrow with Doncaster and Harlow kicking off a new schedule which features the likes of Monmore and Hove on the service, along with the other SIS regulars such as Crayford, Romford, Henlow and Central Park.
Romford and Crayford will also feature as part of a new Saturday morning show, beginning on February 6. Superbly, the new morning show coincides with the heats of the Ladbrokes Golden Jacket - one of greyhound racing’s most famous events.
From Monday, RPGTV can be SportyStuff on Sky channel 437 and will be a full HD service.
It’s all change at Sky Sports Racing this week, too, with those tracks which had built up a real following on RPGTV switching to Sky channel 415, with Newcastle and Nottingham set to be included in the Stateside Live programmes this week.
So well done to Ben Keith, the boss of Star Sports Bookmakers, who this week was named the GWA Services to Greyhound Racing Award.
Sponsor or joint-sponsor of the Greyhound Derby for five years now, Ben carries the sport wherever he goes. He is a GBGB Ambassador and his love of the sport shines through not just in terms of his company’s backing of the sport but his social media profile. Greyhound racing is never far from the surface where Ben is concerned.
But the Derby is where that passion manifests itself most. Putting your name to the world’s most famous race is one thing, but going above and beyond that is clearly what inspired members of the Greyhound Writers’ Association to vote for Ben.
He is hugely popular with owners and trainers, who note his unwavering support for the game - support which doesn’t just come with the Derby sponsorship but also in organising the traditional Derby lunch, the most memorable of occasions for connections of the finalists.
Ask any owner fortunate enough to have a Derby finalist and the build-up to the big race is everything - and Ben has made it more special than ever in recent years. From Soho House to the Ritz, only Ben and his team could pull that off.
Ben will be honoured along with all the other stars of the track at the GBGB Greyhound of the Year Awards, which is held virtually this year on Sunday, February 14.
Still on a Derby theme, good luck to Nathan Corden in his latest venture since a parting of the ways with Nottingham.
Now a consultant for Towcester, home once again of the Greyhound Derby, Corden has also launched a new greyhound sales auction company with his son James.
Called greyhoundtrader.com, the company’s first sale will be at Towcester on April 21.