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Sheffield finals day for BAGS Track Championship

Bookmakers’ Afternoon Greyhound Services (BAGS) today unveiled its third Track Championship, the sport’s biggest team event. Total prize money, including trophies and travel allowances, will be in the region of £200,000, up from £160,000 last year. SIS will for the first time are joint-sponsors.

This year’s renewal will see six groups take on each other in a series of regional events with the winner in each group going through to the Grand Finals at Sheffield on Monday, 23 December.

Greyhound racing will again take centre stage two days in front of Christmas on a day when there is no UK horseracing.

There is a change to the competition’s format this year in that the tracks will each stage one qualifying match consisting of 10 races, up from six last year, supplying two runners in every race. There will be five groups of three tracks, and a three-fixture match between Yarmouth and Peterborough, the track with the highest points going through. Each track will supply two runners per race at each of the qualifying matches, with Yarmouth and Peterborough supplying three.

Each qualifying event will comprise of a sprint, two standard races for dogs, bitches and two unrestricted, a standard puppy race, plus two stayers.

“It’s game on,” said Scott Harvey, BAGS’ race programme controller. “Racing managers are already in deep discussion with their trainers about putting their track’s best possible team together. And they will need to, as you can again expect the rivalry to be fierce, the action to be fast and the team spirit which the Track Championship generates, unmatched.”

Yarmouth is one of the most isolated tracks on the BAGS service, with Peterborough its closest neighbour 100 miles away. “Matching them in one group makes geographical sense,” added Harvey. “It also avoids dogs from others tracks travelling long distances for trials, thereby putting pressure on racing offices and their graded strengths.”

Competing greyhounds must have had at least five graded races at their home tracks but different to last year, they can have won one open race before the start of the event at Kinsley on 20th October, when the track plays host to Newcastle and Sunderland. Runners are also eligible if they win a maximum of one open after the event kicks off.

The last qualifier before the final will take place at Swindon on Friday, 6 December. At the end of the group stage, the highest points-scoring team will go through to compete in the Grand Finals.

Similar to last year, and mirroring each regional match, Finals Day will comprise 10 events, two staying races, and two each of the standard unrestricted, dogs and bitches, plus one sprint and one puppy race.

Points are scored 10, 7, 5, 3, 2 and 1 in order of finish. Heats are worth £200 to the winner, runner-up £100, others £75. Winners of the Track Championship Finals get £500, second £200 and others £100.

Another added bonus this year is that the Group winners prize money has increased to £2,000, with runners-up receiving £1,000, third £500. Team purses are split among trainers at the discretion of the racing manager. Travel allowances for the tracks will be £1,000 paid per team.

And in a new move, the overall winner’s prize of £12,500 will be split between the winning trainers and the track (to be added to BAGS prize-money in the following period), with £7,500 to the runner-up and £5,000 for third.

For further information, contact Scott Harvey at BAGS on 020 7434 0123.