Greyhound racing news: July 17 date for Greyhound Derby Final at Towcester

Evening action at Romford

Check out the latest snippets from the world of Greyhound racing including a new date of July 17 for the Derby Final.

July 17 date for Towcester Final

The Greyhound Derby Final has a new date of Saturday, July 17.

Back at Towcester this year, the £175,000 to the winner showpiece will form part of a ‘festival’ weekend of major racing and entertainment with on-site accommodation made available at the huge Northamptonshire venue.

The Greyhound Derby, to be sponsored by Star Sports and an as-yet unnamed major brewery, will begin with a split first round on Friday, June 11 and Saturday, June 12. The second round will also be across two nights on Friday, June 18 and Saturday, June 19.

The third round then takes on Saturday, June 26, with the quarter-finals on Saturday, July 3 and the semi-finals on Saturday, July 10.

The switch to a later series of dates gives the track every chance to allow crowds in once again and was agreed to by the GBGB’s Open Race Planning Committee.

Amanda Duplock, GBGB Racing Committee Secretary, said: “The Committee appreciates Towcester’s ambition for this year’s Derby and our hope is that this revised schedule, which pushes the start of the competition back by six weeks, will enable more spectators to attend and enjoy the action live.

“Now that the dates have been set for the Derby, the pivotal point of the open-race year, GBGB will move forward with the process for scheduling the full 2021 open race calendar.”

Greyhound of the Year Awards

The GBGB Greyhound of the Year Awards for 2020 will be announced on Sunday, February 14 - which means an even more romantic evening for greyhound fans!

They will be hosted in London by Darrell Williams and Jonathan Hobbs and will be staged virtually given these Covid-19 times.

And with the race to succeed last year’s winner Ice On Fire as Greyhound of the Year wide open, they will be eagerly anticipated.

A panel will meeting shortly to decide the various categories and compile a list of nominations before the main event next month.

Meanwhile, greyhound racing continues at GBGB tracks behind closed doors, albeit with the Board’s managing director Mark Bird warning against complacency.

He said: “We believe that through having raced over the past six months, as a sport, we have clearly and responsibly demonstrated our commitment to work within all government advice and through our comprehensive and well-tested Covid-19 Operational Policy.

“We cannot be complacent in terms of us continuing to race and I would implore everyone involved in the sport to play their part to ensure that social distancing measures, the wearing of appropriate PPE and communication at all levels is maintained.”

The GBGB also reports that Ukas accreditation has been maintained, allowing the Board to license and inspect its own racecourses and trainers’ residential kennels. This guarantees the high standards of greyhound welfare in the sport.

Nominate your Kennelhand of the Year

Still on a GBGB Awards theme, nominations are also now required for Kennelhand of the Year.

The GBGB wants to hear from owners and trainers, or anyone connected to a kennel, about an outstanding kennelhand who shows impressive commitment to their work and who goes above and beyond to provide the highest standards of care to the greyhounds in their charge.

The winning kennelhand will win £500 and a special trophy in recognition of their dedication and exceptional efforts.

To submit a nomination for this year’s award, the name of nominees accompanied by a brief description why they should win, should be sent to awards@gbgb.org.uk with the subject line ‘Kennelhand of the Year 2020’.

The deadline for nominations is Monday, January 18, after which a panel comprising several industry experts will meet remotely to discuss each nomination and decide the winner.

Commenting on this honour, and the Greyhound of the Year Awards themselves, the GBGB’s Mark Bird added: “Whilst the current Covid-19 restrictions prevent greyhound racing fans and supporters of the sport coming together to celebrate its stars in person, the 2020 GBGB Awards will still go ahead this year as part of an exciting virtual event.

“The stars of the sport on and off the track will again be honoured and the Kennelhand of the Year Award is our annual opportunity to thank the kennelhands of our sport for their hard work and dedication to their role.

“Each day across our trainers’ residential kennels, our kennelhands are working tirelessly to care for their greyhounds, ensuring they bring out the best in them both on and off the track.

“This year, in particular, kennelhands have played an invaluable role within trainers’ teams to keep owners updated and kennels running smoothly. I know how difficult this period has been for everyone, so kennelhands across our sport should be proud of everything they have done in support of our greyhounds.”

Coral Essex Vase taking shape

Smallmead set the pace as the Coral Essex Vase kicked off at Romford on Friday.

Winner of the RPGTV St Leger at Perry Barr in November, John Mullins’s bitch continued her fine record at the Essex venue with an all-the-way success in heat four of the 575m competition - clocking 34.84sec to set the standard.

First-round training honours went to Mark Wallis after his Drumcrow Brent (35.39sec), Antigua Rum (35.23sec) and, particularly, Aayamza Lexie (34.93sec) landed a treble for the 11-time champion trainer.

The other heats went to Kevin Hutton’s Droopys Mansion (35.40sec) and the Patrick Janssens-trained Doolin Princess (35.40sec).

The Janssens team were also delighted to see Desperado Dan qualify from heat one, while Sparta Master finished third in his heat which means the track record holder for Romford’s six bends is still in the mix.

The Coral Essex Vase continues with three semi-finals at Romford on Friday.

Trap draw for Friday’s semis...

First semi: 1 Antigua Romeo, 2 Seaglass Tiger, 3 Smallmead, 4 Antigua Boy, 5 View King (m), 6 Newinn Liz (w).

Second semi: 1 Aayamza Lexie, 2 Piemans Noelle, 3 Sheldan, 4 Doolin Princess, 5 Sparta Master (m), 6 Antigua Rum (w).

Third semi: 1 Droopys Aoife, 2 Perrys Choice, 3 Ivy Hill Skyhigh, 4 Desperado Dan, 5 Droopys Mansion (m), 6 Drumcrow Brent (w).

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