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BAGS/SIS Track Championship Final - Perry Barr - Various distances

TOWCESTER are the 2016 BAGS/SIS Track Champions and life just couldn’t be better for the sport’s newest venue, which in 2017 will take over from Wimbledon as the host track of the English Greyhound Derby.

So much as happened in the 24 months since the ambitious project to mix greyhound racing with horse racing at the expansive Northampton estate owned by Lord Hesketh was launched.

In that short time, we have seen the Towcester land two BAGS/SIS Track Championship titles, host the TV Trophy and introduce races such as the Lowther Stakes, amongst others. The right to stage the Derby is the icing on the cake. It has been an amazing achievement.

So too was Towcester’s success at Perry Barr in the Track Championship, and Kevin Ackerman, the track’s CEO, said: “All our success at Towcester is down to hard work and a great team spirit. We are lucky to have great supporters and most all of Lord Hesketh at the helm.”

Lord Hesketh wasn’t at Perry Barr for the BAGS/SIS Track Championship due to ill health. We wish him a speedy recovery.

For the record the final scores were – 56 pts Towcester, 54 Romford, 54 Sheffield, 44       Peterborough, 40 Newcastle, 32 Nottingham.

 

Here’s how the title was won.

LEG 1 - BAGS/SIS Track Championship FinalYoungsters (480m)

“He’s more of a Derby dog,” said trainer Philip Simmonds of Sneezys Martin after he had secured maximum points for Romford. “He’s much better suited by a big track like Towcester and a 500-metre trip,” he added after watching the home-bred October 2014 whelp reel-in early leader Headford Sky to score by a shade under three lengths in 28.79sec (0.20sec slow).

Points after Leg 1

10       Romford

7          Newcastle

5          Sheffield

3          Towcester

2          Nottingham

1          Peterborough

 

LEG 2 - BAGS/SIS Track Championship FinalDogs B (480m)

Sonny Da Boy continued the tremendous start made by Romford. The Ernie Gaskin-trained dog wasn’t quickly away but he made up for that by railing closely around the first and second turns. He passed early leader Hinbos Lad entering the back straight and went on to win by a length and a half in 28.68sec (0.20sec slow). Representing trainer Gaskin, Dave Lee said afterwards: “He (Sonny Da Boy) is all about the rails. You could see him sitting next to the fence approaching the first bend, just waiting for the gap to appear – and it did.” Of Romford’s good start, Lee added: “We thought we had a chance to get a quick break and the dogs have performed well.”

Points after Leg 2

20       Romford

10       Sheffield

9          Newcastle

9          Nottingham

6          Towcester

5          Peterborough

 

 

 

LEG 3 - BAGS/SIS Track Championship Final – Bitches B (480m)

Nottingham raider Windswept Elm led off the second turn and, despite losing ground at every bend by running wide, kept on well enough to hold a fast-finish from Garryglass Pixie. The winner, appropriately named given the wild conditions, scored by a short-head in 28.79sec (0.20sec slow). Garryglass Pixie was slowly away but she railed closely around the opening couple of bends and moved into second along the far side. She closed late on but Windswept Elm, a half-sister of Swindon Produce Stakes winner Bansha Rooskey and the youngest dog in the race, just had the edge. Gary Taylor, her owner, said: “She needs two or three runs to get used to a track.” Nottingham’s Dave Baldwin said: “We wanted a winner for the owners and trainers that have supported the event and now we have one.”

Points after Leg 3

21       Romford

19       Nottingham

14       Newcastle

13       Towcester

12       Sheffield

5          Peterborough

 

LEG 4 - BAGS/SIS Track Championship Final – Stayers B (660m)

 

Vera Vang set off like a scalded cat and was up to six lengths ahead of her field before tiring in the closing stages. Princess Freya, the Peterborough representative, got herself into second place after a moderate break and she came through to score by a length from the Sheffield bitch in 40.71sec. Afterwards owner Ian Polson revealed Princess Freya, who is named after his granddaughter, is his first greyhound. “It’s the first time I’ve been able to afford one,” he joked.

 

 

 

 

 

Points after Leg 4

26       Romford

20       Nottingham

19       Sheffield

17       Newcastle

15       Towcester

15       Peterborough

 

LEG 5 - BAGS/SIS Track Championship Final – Standard (480m)

 

Milesian Mecca got the better of Far Bank Frank after a tremendous buckle, probably the best of the meeting. The dog trained at Newcastle by Jimmy Wright recorded his third straight success by edging ahead at the third turn from Kevin Hutton’s runner and then held off a renewed challenge from the Towcester runner to score by a neck in 28.93sec (0.30sec slow). Owner Paul Railton said: “I’m absolutely delighted. It’s like our Derby final. This competition generates great comradery. It’s outstanding.”

 

Points after Leg 5

31       Romford

27       Newcastle

22       Sheffield

22       Towcester

21       Nottingham

17       Peterborough

 

LEG 6 - BAGS/SIS Track Championship Final – Sprint (275m)

 

Geelo Gaga ran a cracker to give a start and beating to the very talented and inform Hunter Ben. The Sheffield tracker showed the best early pace to take the bend ahead after being out trapped by Ernie Gaskin’s dog and then pressed home his advantage to score by a length in 16.47sec (0.15sec slow). Paul Hector, representing trainer Carl Perry, said: “This was important for us. We fancied him a bit. He’s such a strong dog over sprint trips.”

 

Points after Leg 6

38       Romford

32       Sheffield

29       Newcastle

25       Towcester

22       Nottingham

22       Peterborough

 

LEG 7 - BAGS/SIS Track Championship Final – Dogs A (480m)

 

Macs On Storm won his fourth race from four starts in this year’s BAGS/SIS Track Championship when registering a first leg win in the finals for defending champions Towcester. That was something not lost on trainer Mark Wallis, who said: “I thought it was never going to happen. We’ve been a touch unlucky up to now but this is a great little dog. He’s actually much better away from Towcester.” There was never any doubt from the start who was going to win as Macs On Storm went clear at trap-rise and scored by more than five lengths from Romford’s Chilli Squid in 28.55sec (0.30sec slow). The Towcester success in the seventh leg meant every team competition in the finals had had the winner of a leg.

 

Points after Leg 7

45       Romford

35       Towcester

29       Newcastle

33       Sheffield

25       Nottingham

24       Peterborough

 

LEG 8 - BAGS/SIS Track Championship Final – Bitches A (480)

Having got the first winner under their belt, Towcester were now beginning to hit fifth gear. But even they were slightly surprised when Steponitstacey, who was brought in when Mossrich Mirage, herself a reserve, went off colour, secured the ten points. By now the rain was chucking it down as Perry Barr began to feel in the imminent arrival of the much-heralded Storm Barbara. That didn’t bother Stepitonstacey who trapped well, pressed ahead on the run to the first turn, and stayed strongly to win by four and three quarter lengths in 28.78sec. The track was now rated 0.40sec slow as conditions worsened under the pressure of heavy rain.  

Points after Leg 8

46       Romford

45       Towcester

40       Sheffield

36       Newcastle

29       Peterborough

28       Nottingham

 

LEG 9 - BAGS/SIS Track Championship Final – Stayers A (660m)

It’s no wonder Matt Chapman, the Sky Sports presenter, exclaimed “God loves Towcester” after the performance of Slick Strauss. For the Patrick Janssen-trained runner to get up to beat Geelo Bullet after a series of setbacks was nothing short of a miracle. He did it, though, and the defending champions were, for the first time at the top of the points table. Keith Allsop, the owner of Slick Strauss, said: “It was an amazing performance. This dog has got so much heart. Any other dog would have packed in it with the trouble he got.” For the record, Slick Strauss defeated Sheffield’s Geelo Bullet by a length in 40.75sec (0.60sec slow).

Points after Leg 9

55       Towcester

49       Romford

47       Sheffield

37       Newcastle

34       Peterborough

30       Nottingham

 

LEG 10 - BAGS/SIS Track Championship Final – Elite (480m)

Three teams were still in with a chance of landing the Championship as we arrived at the final leg. They were Romford, Sheffield and Towcester. The bookmakers were pretty sure Towcester were going to become the first to win the competition back-to-back. They bet 2-7 Towcester, 5 Romford and 13-2 Sheffield. But it was all to play for. I won’t attempt to explain what needed to happen for each of those teams to prevail but in a race won by Kooga Klammer for Peterborough by fourth lengths in 28.57sec (0.30sec slow), Sheffield’s Fault Finder was second and Romford’s Ajlo Legalbeagle was third. Sadly, Ballymac Shirley, the Towcester representative, failed to finish after going lame but still earned a point for her team. The good news is that Ballymac Shirley will recover to retire to the breeding paddocks. After what seemed like an eternity it was announced that Towcester had won. It didn’t take as long for the celebrations to begin.

 

The final points totals

56       Towcester

54       Romford

54       Sheffield

44       Peterborough

40       Newcastle

32       Nottingham