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Towcester Greyhound Welfare Graded Derby - Towcester 480m - £10,000

TOWCESTER racing manager Chris Page expressed himself “absolutely delighted, but also quite relieved” as the TGW Graded Derby, a unique event on the GBGB Calendar, kicked off over 480m at the Northamptonshire venue on Tuesday.


Page was delighted given the competitive nature of the racing amongst the 48-strong entry, with not a huge amount between the eight heat winners on the clock, after what had been a painstaking process of assembling a field to produce an event he and the race’s sponsor wanted.


“We wanted this to be a genuine Graded Derby, where a fully-fledged graded runner’s connections took home £10,000 - and we’ve started well in that case,” said Page, who explained that only after deliberation between himself and his racing office staff that the ‘grade’ of the event was determined.


“We studied all grades and times of the greyhounds we had on the strength, to see what was the strongest area to cope with the demands of the event, and came to the conclusion that 28.80sec had to be the benchmark time - or the limit. Every runner had to have at least five graded races and not ever clocked a faster time.”


Some 75 entries were received by the track and the best 48 runners selected. “That was the toughest part,” he said. “We had to check all the runners hadn’t done that time, plus made sure that as many trainers were represented. We still have 13 trainers represented in the quarter-finals.


“All things being equal, we’re really pleased,” he added. “It’s been one of the toughest competitions to assemble but it’s started well and we can look forward to the quarter-finals now. There’s a ten-day gap between them, which allows us to kick off the Lowther Stakes. It’s a busy time.”


Page paid tribute to Peter Keeble, whose Stress Relief UK company is backing the event. “I’ve known Peter since the Walthamstow dogs where he owned dogs, and he’s a great supporter of the game, particularly when it comes to retired greyhounds and welfare - hence the race’s title.”


Plans for final night on Saturday, September 2 are progressing, with the races on a gala evening to include all-sponsored, all-nominated races which will mirror the famous IJF nights at Walthamstow. “Towcester Greyhound Welfare will be the real winners on the night,” said Page.


On the racing front, the Graham Holford-trained Shreyas Spyfall and Paul Philpott’s Getcallmyreg were joint-fastest with 28.89sec returns. Next best was the 28.91sec posted by Hazel Kemp’s Bodell Rossie, while Heather Dimmock’s Night Time So clocked 28.93sec.


The other heats were won by Jim Reynolds’ pair of Oscars Hurricane (29.09sec) and Sebs Scolari (29.20sec), Mark Wallis’s Swift Kaylee (29.12sec), Richard Yeates’s Ballyblack Bolt (29.02sec). The quarter-finals take place at Towcester on Saturday, August 19.