Incentives in any sport are much sought after. They generate interest and competition - not to mention a cash reward! - so last week’s offer from the backers of the Colossus Bets Kent Silver Salver at Central Park was top notch.
The firm is offering a £10,000 bonus to any greyhound who completes an unbeaten run through the longstanding sprint event, which equates to an extra £3,333.33 per victory on top of the £3,000 first prize in the three-round comp. The winner could take home £13,000.
Of course, remaining unbeaten is key to copping the loot. So step forward Ballynabee Lucky, Coolavanny Dylan, Druids Brazona, King Drake, Lightfoot Rio and Shrewd Call, who all won their heats on Sunday and run in this weekend’s semis.
Joint-fastest were Samantha West’s Ballynabee Lucky and the Dave Mullins-trained Shrewd Call, who both stopped the clock in 16.16sec.
However, respect is also due to other heats winners - Jason Bloomfield’s Druids Brazona (16.42sec), Liz McNair’s King Drake (16.23sec), Michelle Brown’s Lightfoot Rio (16.54sec) and the Kirsty Grayson-trained Coolavanny Dylan (16.35sec).
Of course, the latter is the reigning BresMed Northern Sprint champion so has Category One ‘black type’ on his CV and the Sheffield raider looked to be coming back to his best when winning on Sunday and will come forward again.
Romford runner Shrewd Call was magnificent to the eye and threw his hat into the ring big-time, as did King Drake given his powerhouse performance. The local star was stepping down in distance and ran powerfully throughout, running away late on.
Bernard Marantelli, boss of Colossus Bets, has never been shy coming forward. He spiced up the Sky Sports cards at Towcester memorably on TV Trophy night with cash-out tipping competitions for punters on the night and has always enjoyed his dogs.
His company’s support for the Silver Salver, first run at Southend in 1933, and renamed the Kent Silver Salver following a spell at Canterbury and then its move to Central Park, Sittingbourne, in 2002, is Colossus’s first sponsorship since the TV Trophy.
The firm is a jackpot pool operator and well known for its cash-out options and Marantelli has promised to test the nerve of connections on final night should any of them be in line for the bonus - there could be three sets going for gold if the results work out.
He plans to offer them a ‘take the money and run’ amount - albeit still having the opportunity to scoop the £3,000 prize for the GBGB Category Two event. It could make for some lively ‘remote’ exchanges on the night if the meeting is behind closed doors.
Either way, stay-at-home punters - and we’re all that just now - can bet on whether the bonus will be won. A simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ exchange has been launched on Betdaq, as have individual markets on the six heat winners going through the event unbeaten.
On the subject of behind-closed-doors action, owners’ groups are pressing for UK tracks to open their doors to owners at least to see their greyhounds run - and a decision is expected soon given restrictions have been relaxed to allow bars and restaurants to open.
Horse racing has begun to allow owners into racecourses and greyhound tracks are hoping to follow suit, although it’s the local licensing authorities who will ultimately decide when much needed paid-for custom can be allowed back in.
Sad news on the racing front given the retirement through injury of Trickys Dumbo and the passing from a non-racing related condition of Droopys Verve.
Robert Holt’s Trickys Dumbo was a precocious talent, winning the RPGTV Select Stakes at Nottingham last year in just his fourth start having also won the puppy competition on Derby final night - in the process becoming one of the few greyhounds to beat Ice On Fire.
Holt only entered the then lightly raced Trickys Dumbo after a suggestion from Nottingham. Named as a reserve, he was then drafted in as a replacement following a trio of withdrawals and took his chance. He made all impressively.
Holt deserves great credit for his ambition when later taking Trickys Dumbo to compete in the Irish Derby at Shelbourne. Too few UK handlers make the trip.
Stud duties are now an option for Trickys Dumbo, but were devastatingly denied to Droopys Verve who died from a twisted lung recently. Sincere condolences to his training team of Angela Harrison and Jimmy Wright and owners the Conlon family.
Droopys Verve was a star.
Famously as a young dog he ran-up to Dorotas Wildcat in the 2018 Star Sports Derby at Towcester, later winning the All England Cup for his proud local connections. In between he scored a track record-breaking win in the Dundalk International.
Still a major force on the open-race scene last year, Droopys Verve made the Scottish Derby Final at Shawfield and was one of the most popular and prolific winners on the open-race scene. He had been moving well in comeback trials this year.
Finally, open-race fans are in for a real treat from Thursday onwards.
Newcastle stages trial stakes for the RPGTV All England Cup that day and some superb contests feature on the card. Then the bandwagon rolls to Romford on Friday for two finals on an all-open card, before the weekend action kicks in, and how!
Hove’s Saturday meeting is surely the best meeting of this truncated year so far. It features trial stakes for the Coral Sussex Cup and the Coral Regency and is littered with stars. A fabulous advert for the sport.
And if you don't believe me, just take a glimpse here - it’s outstanding.
All the action can be seen on RPGTV, as can Central Park’s Sunday programme featuring the Silver Salver semis.