Greyhound racing news: Latest updates including 'new' Derby home

Dogs on parade at Towcester

We have the latest greyhound racing news all together in one place - including an update on the Greyhound Derby's return to Towcester.

TOWCESTER is the new home of the 2021 Greyhound Derby, with June 12 pencilled in as the date for the £175,000 - pending approval by the GBGB’s open-race planning committee.

The announcement was made after a remote meeting of a panel chosen to decide between Towcester and Nottingham, which has staged the last two runnings of the Classic. Irish raider Deerjet Sydney’s won last year’s rescheduled Derby at the Colwick Park venue for Pat Buckley.

However, the race is now set to return to Northamptonshire where it was successfully hosted in 2017 and 2018 before the track closed suddenly and was put in administration. It has since been taken over by Henlow promoter Kevin Boothby.

Boothby, also a successful greyhound owner, has secured the support of longtime Derby sponsors Star Sports, with their boss Ben Keith understood to be delighted to see the race return to Towcester after a break of two years.

For his part, Kevin Boothby said: “I am absolutely delighted that Towcester will be hosting the 2021 English Greyhound Derby.

“We have a great team here and I know we will put on a cracking Derby for the sport. It was very important to me to ensure the winner’s prize is significant and £175,000 to the winner ticks that box.”

Nottingham’s Rachel Corden, who is Arc’s Greyhound Operations Manager, said: “We’re exceptionally proud of the Nottingham team for delivering a safe and fantastic Derby over the last two years, and especially this year, during the Covid crisis.

“Without their amazing efforts the industry wouldn’t have had an English Derby in 2019 and 2020 and we commend the whole team for successfully carrying that mantle.

“We would, of course, like to wish the Towcester team all the best in delivering a safe and successful Derby in 2021.”

PATRICK JANSSENS has his sights set on defending his champion trainer title.

Janssens, named 2020 Trainer of the Year for the first time after a brilliant last 12 months for his Norfolk kennel, is targeting the early-season major races - the Coral Essex Vase at Romford, Ladbrokes Golden Jacket at Crayford, plus the Winter Derby at Monmore and revived Blue Riband at Towcester.

He told the GBGB’s website: “I certainly favour quality over quantity and it would be asking a lot to repeat what we did in 2020,” he said. “However we’ll be aiming for the major competitions again and I’m delighted to see the Blue Riband return to the GBGB Calendar at Towcester – it’s important we maintain the tradition of these big races.”

Janssens ended the long run of titles for Mark Wallis, who had won the previous eight Trainer of the Year titles and has won 11 in total. Wallis finished second in 2020 ahead of of Liz McNair, Kevin Hutton, David Mullins and Ernie Gaskin. The top six qualify for the Trainers’ Championship Meeting.

CHRIS BADGER, part-owner of 2009 Derby champion Kinda Ready, died last week after a long illness. He was 72 and had suffered from Parkinson’s disease for many years.

His son-in-law Steve Mandry said: “Chris sadly passed away on December 12 having fought a long battle with Parkinson’s. He was actually hospitalised in March due to his condition, only to contract Covid-19 there.

“But it was typical of Chris, who was such a tough man, that he managed to fight off Covid despite being very weak at one stage. He moved into a nursing home in September, where he was looked after until he passed away.”

Multiple champion trainer Mark Wallis trained Kinda Ready, as well as litter brother Kinda Easy, the St Leger champion, who Chris also part-owned. Wallis added his own tribute.

He said: “Chris was a man who told you straight what he thought - there was no messing about and he was totally honest.

“It’s very sad to hear of his passing. We have some amazing memories and it was great to share the biggest moment in our kennel’s history with him.”

Londoner Chris leaves wife Maggie, son Paul, daughter Cheryl, and their partners Jo and Steve, along with five grandchildren and three great grandchildren.

The funeral takes place on Thursday, January 7.

The family have requested no flowers but instead donations to Parkinson’s UK via this link.

PA FITZGERALD, who with Patsy Byrne formed such a formidable partnership in the late 1980s and 1990s including victory for Ballinderry Ash in the 1991 Greyhound Derby at Wimbledon, died on Wednesday. He was 88.

A fine sportsman as a younger man being part of Kerry’s All-Ireland success in 1955 in Gaelic football, his passion of greyhounds was already well known having trained major winners on the coursing field as a teenager.

His success on the track, however, surpassed that - especially when he moved to England permanently and later linked up with the legendary Byrne, the popular horse racing owner and businessman who, like Pa Fitz, had a love of greyhounds and greyhound racing.

The Kerrymen formed a great partnership and friendship, with businessman Byrne holding the licence but Pa very much the trainer enjoying great success with dogs such as Scottish Derby champion Phantom Flash, Micks Lotto, Ayr Flyer, Dempseys Whisper and Ballinderry Ash.

They will also forever be associated with Druids Johno.

He was the 1990 Derby runner-up, who went off a warm favourite in the final, and provided the sport with some of its best publicity since the days of Scurlogue Champ and Ballyregan Bob a few years earlier given he was part-owned by HRH Prince Edward.

SWINDON and Central Park kick off the open-race year on Sunday (January 3) - with the Blunsdon venue hosting four one-off opens including appearances from Angie Kibble’s British Bred St Leger first and second Zaha and Emotional.

Central Park’s card featured a trial stakes for the novice hurdlers’ championship The Springbok, which actually starts later this year - with heats scheduled for Sunday, March 21. All the action will be live on RPGTV.

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