The Alconex All England Cup – Newcastle 480m – £8,000
ICE ON FIRE threw down a possible Greyhound of the Year challenge when producing, in the words of his proud trainer, a “sensational run” to win the Alconex All England Cup Final at Newcastle on Thursday.
The Jimmy Fenwick-trained winner of Nottingham’s Puppy Classic will now return to the Colwick Park track for the upcoming Eclipse, although Fenwick knows time constraints means he goes there without a trial.
“He’s been there before so we don’t have any obvious concerns in that regard, but we know he’s in great shape. We’ve not come down after Thursday! That was some run and the pace he showed was sensational.
“He just screwed on coming out the traps but then flew to the bend. He just has a brilliant burst of pace to the bend and then really opens up down the back. For his first all-aged competition we couldn’t be more pleased.
“We knew trap one probably wasn’t ideal, but Newcastle and Nottingham are different tracks and, to be fair, he kept a straight line into the turn, his pace just took him clear. It’s probably why I wasn’t nervous – all he had to do was break with them.”
Trapping well but to the right, Ice On Fire straightened up to lead into the bend and ran on strongly to win by six lengths in a brilliant 28.16sec for the 480m distance, with Roxholme Jim (Hayley Keightley) keeping on well for second.
“Once he broke level with them, his pace won him the race, although fair play to Hayley’s dog who came from out of the pack. He’s a really solid dog, so we know Ice On Fire’s performance was special and I’m delighted for Dave Spraggon (owner).”
Former trainer Spraggon said: “Jimmy and Melanie (wife) have done a terrific job with him and I thought he was special tonight. We’ll be aiming him at all the major races because, while I’ve been offered good money for him, I’ve waited 45 years for one like him!”
Fenwick paid tribute to Newcastle and the sponsors, with a particular mention to Steve Anderson, his training colleague at the Byker venue who helped bring together the All England Cup festival with a series of sponsorships.
“Arc (Newcastle’s owners) are supporting us here, which is great, and Steve (Anderson) should be congratulated for his work in getting this race sponsored. It’s important for the north east that events like this are staged and that sponsors are brought in.
“Steve has helped ensure that and has secured the All England Cup and the supporting competitions until next year also, which is absolute fantastic. Greyhound racing is all about these major nights and it’s important we work together to put them on.”
Steve Anderson, who was a winner on the night with Bramble Reggie (28.30sec), said: “Thursday was a great night and exactly what the greyhound people of Newcastle deserve – having a local winner was the icing on the cake and well done to Jimmy and Melanie.
“I’m just delighted to have the support of friends of mine who run these companies – Colin Wilkinson, MD of Alconex, was here on the night to present the trophy for the main event and Colin and his colleagues thoroughly enjoyed the evening.”
Anderson also revealed that another company he has contacts with are preparing to step into greyhound sponsorship. “They also enjoyed their night at Newcastle and are ready to put up a £10,000 competition, which will be separate to the All England Cup.
“I’ve asked Newcastle to have a look at the dates next year and see what sort of event and when the competition could be staged.”
Incidentally, Thursday’s all-open race card at Newcastle was brought to a close with the Bob Eltringham Memorial Winner Of One Trophy, which appropriately went to Irenes Hope (28.77sec), a sister of Ice On Fire, and also trained by Jimmy Fenwick.
Bob Eltringham is the late father of Sunderland trainer Yvonne Bell and grandfather of Melanie Fenwick, so victory for Irenes Hope was particular welcome.
“Bob was a quiet man but absolutely loved his dogs – it could not have been a better result for all of us,” added Jimmy Fenwick.