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Monmore in the news

Greyhound racing at Monmore Green is now regularly featured in the Express & Star newspaper, with pieces going in every week. You can also find the latest articles in full below...

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Monmore dog is sparkling in the derby

Saturday June 15th 2024

Monmore Green trainer Kim Billingham and owner Mark Beattie have expressed their immense pride in seeing Beatties Sparkle reach the quarter-finals of the Greyhound Derby.

The biggest prize in British greyhound racing, Sparkle has made it through three rounds at Towcester in recent weeks as the £175,000-to-the-winner event has been whittled down from 192 dogs to just 24.

She is the only Monmore-based greyhound still involved and hopes to defy the odds once more this evening as she runs from trap five in quarter-final four against a field that includes competition favourite De Lahdedah.

It is the furthest esteemed trainer Billingham has ever got in the Derby, and she said on Sparkle’s remarkable journey: “She’s given herself a great chance in every race so far by trapping well and getting in the mix early on – not leaving herself too much to do.

“She found a little bit of trouble last weekend but came through it and held on for third, which we were all delighted about.

“We know she may not be the quickest in the competition but it’s all about qualifying and making it through the rounds – and she’s done incredibly to make it to the quarter-finals.

“We’re all so proud of her. She’s exceeded all our expectations. Of course, we were hopeful of getting through one or two rounds, but this journey has been a fantastic experience.

“It’s lovely for Mark as he’s owned greyhounds with us for many years – and the all the other owners in the kennel have been looking out for her. We’re in a group chat and they’ve been sending lots of supportive messages to me and Mark, which is lovely.

“We’re hopeful going into the weekend again but there’s no pressure on her at all, so it’s a nice position to be in.

“She’s been in brilliant shape, done so well, and we’ll see what this weekend brings.”

Kim and Mark had entered both Sparkle and Beatties Electra and while the latter was unable to progress past the first round, Sparkle has gone from strength to strength.

Mark always felt she had the potential to upset the apple cart, too.

“We’ve had dogs 27 years. Me and my brother, Richard always went racing growing up – and we’ve been with Kim for the last 10 years,” he said.

“Sparkle was bought at the Oxford sales in September 22, we got her for a modest price. It took her until her 16th race to get a win, a graded race, but since then she’s never looked back.

“She’s won 14 from 66 now and along the way got to the quarter-finals of the Puppy Oaks, the semi-finals of the 3 Steps to Victory, the Summer Stayers Classic semi-finals and the Empress final.

“We went for the Derby as it’s a strong 500m and with her typically running 630m at Monmore, we thought it might suit her. We’ve been blown away with how she’s done.

“We knew she wouldn’t be the outsider she appeared to be on paper as she’s a real determined runner.

“She may not be the best at one particular thing, but she does everything well and she’s consistent.

“In 27 years of owning greyhounds, we’ve never had a runner get past the first round of the Derby, so we were over the moon to just get through the first round – let alone into the quarter-finals.”

Mark added: “She’s been the outsider in every race, but she doesn’t know that.

“She’s a dream to own and in the form of her life, at her absolute peak.

“The excitement has been off the scale. Having a dog in the quarter-finals of the Derby, considering all the quality Irish dogs who come over as well, shouldn’t be possible for owners like us, but we’ve done it. It’s a dream come true.”

Several Monmore greyhounds head to Towcester this weekend for competitions which will conclude on Derby final night in a few weeks.

Among them is the Richie Taberner-trained Aero Sacundai, who runs in the Hope Jeal Sprint Trophy tomorrow having unofficially broken a track record at Monmore in midweek.

He ran a 210m solo trial in a lightning 12.17 secs on Wednesday, with kennelmate Crossfield Larry – also involved in the Hope Jeal event – having clocked 12.34secs in a race to set a new record last September.

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Sparkle will be flying the flag for Monmore

Saturday June 8th 2024

The Monmore Green-based Beatties Sparkle looks to upset the odds once more and continue her remarkable journey in the English Greyhound Derby tonight.

Sparkle, trained by Kim Billingham and owned by Mark Beattie, has made it through two rounds in the prestigious £175,000 competition at Towcester up to yet.

She is the only one of the nine Monmore greyhounds who entered the 192-strong event still involved, and if she finishes in the top three of her race this evening she will advance to the quarter-finals.

Sparkle is 300/1 with the bookmakers to win the Derby and has much more fancied dogs against her in heat four of the third round at 7.29pm, but Billingham is holding out hope given last weekend’s showing was her ‘best race to date’ – getting through ahead of King Capaldi, the winner of the Ladbrokes Winter Derby at Monmore in February.

“We’re so proud of how she’s run so far in the early rounds,” said Billingham.

“To run so close as she has with this of class dogs is fantastic.

“She seems to be peaking at the right time. To run within two-and-three-quarter lengths to the Derby favourite (De Lahdedah) was I think her best race to date.

“We’re going proud to be there and full of hope that she can continue her great run of form.

“Hopefully, we can sneak through to the quarters which would be a real thrill for us all.”

Back at Monmore tonight, four Category Three finals are taking place along with four one-off Open races.

Billingham has dogs in three of the four finals - veteran Across The Field in the Dual Distance Sprint, Away Jazz in the 480 and Magical Luna in the 684.

The up-and-coming Gas Pedal runs in the night’s final race, a 480 maiden.

Billingham added: “Across The Field will be five next month and he’s doing himself proud to still compete at this level.

“The draw isn’t ideal out in trap four, but with it being 210m, I don’t think it’s that bad if he pings out.

“Gas Pedal in the maiden looks a nice dog who we still hope has improvement to come, so we’re looking forward to seeing how he progresses with us in the coming months.”

The other final taking place at Monmore is a 480 maiden that includes Nathan Hunt trio Rachel You Go, Bang On Edith and Bang On Polly.

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Nathan hunting more success with Rachel tonight

Saturday June 1st 2024

One of Monmore Green's most in-form greyhounds looks to catch the eye as four Category Three Open competitions begin at the track tonight.

Rachel You Go, trained by Nathan Hunt, claimed the track’s Bitch of the Month award for April having won two graded races during the month.

She also tasted victory in early May and looks to keep up her hot streak by grabbing her first Open triumph in heat one of the 480 Maiden this evening.

Kennelmates Finborough Flyer and Bang On Polly are in the same race, with Ballymac Bingley (William Russell, Perry Barr), Longacres Romeo (Pat Doocey) and Crystal Turtle (Trevor Coote, Sheffield/Kinsley) completing the field - the top three advancing to next week’s final.

Rachel You Go will have to contend with running wide from trap six, though, despite usually preferring one of the middle boxes.

The second heat in the Maiden sees Trinity Bestie, trained by Gary Smith, return to Open class after an impressive A3 triumph last time out.

Alien Wildfire (Richie Taberner) is the race’s true wide runner while novice Bang On Edith (Hunt) could be worth keeping an eye on.

The next of the night’s four competitions will be run over the lesser-seen 684m, and Kim Billingham’s Beatties Electra returns to action at Monmore after exiting the Greyhound Derby at Towcester.

The usual six-bend distance at Monmore is 630m but Electra and kennelmate Magical Luna may appreciate the opportunity to stretch their legs slightly further.

Longacres Porto – trained by Pat Doocey – is in heat two and could be one to go all the way in the competition having recently reached the Ladbrokes Kent St Leger showpiece at Crayford.

Winterfield Mary, trained by Chris Jones, has long been a reliable performer, too, and should get a clear run from trap six.

Alan Jenkins’ Tabule has been performing brilliantly as of late and is in the third heat.

The Dual Distance Sprint takes place over the standard two-bend trip of 264m, with next week’s final then being held over the shorter 210m.

Monmore’s track record-holder over 210m, Crossfield Larry (Taberner) looks to advance tonight and have a crack at beating it.

Patricia Cowdrill has one in each heat, with Trubbys Swift and Dhustone Carmel both hoping to impress.

The final competition is the 480 and Greyhound Board of Great Britain (GBGB) champion trainer Mark Wallis has Ballymac John involved.

Taberner’s Aero Arran is in action as well after several strong graded runs in recent weeks.

Away Jazz win

Kim’s delight at Away Jazz consistency

Saturday May 25th 2024

Monmore Green trainer Kim Billingham has expressed her delight over how ‘consistent’ Away Jazz has become as he looks to win an Open race tonight.

Jazz has been in top form in the graded ranks as of late for Billingham - winning two A1s on the bounce – and boasts a strong strike rate of 37.04 per cent having won 10 of 27 his career runs.

Tonight sees him return to Open class over four bends to take on a field that includes kennelmate Swift Maria and the Sheffield and Kinsley-based trainer Trevor Coote’s Whitings New Era.

It would be a first Open triumph at Monmore for the two-year-old, and Billingham said: “We’re really pleased with how he’s progressed.

“Jazz has become really consistent around Monmore and has a fantastic strike rate – he’s doing very well.

“He’s got trap two for this one and should have every chance of winning if he traps well, which he has been doing recently.

“He ran brilliantly to win an A1 last weekend and if he repeats that, he’s got every chance.

“Swift Maria is in the race as well and she’s been doing great, winning a Category Three Open heat the other week.

“She’s a bit wider than she’d like to be in this race, coming in from trap six, but she’s been doing us proud as of late.”

The 480 featuring Jazz and Maria is race nine on tonight’s card at the Wolverhampton track, with two other Open races taking place.

An interesting sprint, the 264 is race seven and has Crossfield Larry (Richie Taberner) looking to get back to winning ways after a second-place finish in last weekend’s Category Three final.

He has been drawn in trap three, though, and kennelmate Coologue Pest could be worth keeping an eye on in trap one.

A 630m stayers’ race also takes place in race five and contains the Nathan Hunt-trained Droopys Flotilla – fresh from a run in the Category One Ladbrokes Kent St Leger final at Crayford.

Billingham also has a greyhound competing away from Monmore tonight in the prestigious Greyhound Derby at Towcester.

The competition got underway on Thursday evening and Beatties Sparkle is one of the nine Monmore-based greyhounds to have been involved in the first-round heats, competing in race four this evening.

Also in Category One action, Monmore trainer Chris Fereday has a chance of landing the £10,000 prize in the Time Greyhound Nutrition 3 Steps to Victory final at Sheffield with Millridge Tanic.

He runs from trap six at 5.01pm tomorrow afternoon after finishing third and second in first-round heats and semi-finals respectively.

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Sahara is hoping to heat up Derby bid

Saturday May 18th 2024

Noduff Sahara looks to continue the road to Britain’s most lucrative event by winning a competition final at Monmore Green tonight.

Two-year-old pup Sahara, trained by the Walsall-based Chris Fereday, is one of nine Monmore dogs to have been put forward for the £175,000-to-the-winner Greyhound Derby which begins next week at Towcester.

Before then, though, comes the Category Three 480 event at the Wolverhampton track and the Fereday prospect goes into it having won his heat in impressive fashion last weekend.

“He’s getting better with each run he’s having at the minute,” said Fereday.

“He had a bit of a break in March but since we’ve brought him back, he’s been running well and won three in a row recently – two graded races and then last week’s Open race.

“The quality in tonight’s final may just be a bit too much for him but if he runs like he did last week, he’s got every chance.

“We’re then taking him along to Towcester for the Greyhound Derby which should be a great experience for him along with Droopys Request.

“Should he get knocked out of the Derby early on, there’s the Stakes he’s eligible for at Towcester as well, so hopefully he goes well at Monmore in the final and we can look forward to those.”

The 480 Final is race nine on tonight’s card at Monmore and features Kim Billingham duo Swift Maria – another eye-catching heat winner last weekend – and Barnfield Barra.

Richie Taberner’s Bangon Jeremy, Newinn Sharky (Carol Weatherall, Unattached) and Coolavanny Mercy (Angela Harrison, Newcastle) complete the field.

In the other final, the 264, Crossfield Larry looks to follow up a strong victory for Taberner in the heats last week.

Kennelmate Becky The Boo also won well in heats, though, with Taberner’s third dog in the final being Sporty Jaxx.

Across The Field (Billingham), Teaboy Brownie (Nathan Hunt) and Magical Bluebear (William Russell, Perry Barr) are the others vying for glory in the sprint final this evening.

Due to fly the flag for Monmore at the Derby along with Fereday pair Noduff Sahara and Droopys Request are Billingham duo Beatties Electa and Beatties Sparkle.

Hunt takes Untold Paanga and Zebedee Fourteen, Brian Thompson travels with Vixons Filofax and Vixons Bagheera while Craig Marston’s sole entry is Whisky Champ.


Record-breaker is back on track

Saturday May 11th 2024

Monmore Green’s record-breaking sprinter looks to prove he can still mix it with the best as two Category Three competitions begin at the track tonight.

With Open racing returning to Saturday nights in Wolverhampton, Crossfield Larry – who set a new 210m record for trainer Richie Taberner last September – competes in the 264 event which sees two six-dog heats take place and three advance from each to next week’s final.

Boasting a remarkable record of 30 victories and 14 seconds from 75 runs, Larry turns four next month and is entering the twilight of his racing career given most greyhounds retire before they reach five.

Taberner, though, believes his trusted companion still has the speed needed to win this competition and add to his already stellar record.
“Larry is as good as ever and will tell me when it’s time to retire,” said Taberner.

“He’s crazy keen still and so excited when he’s out on parade for a race.

“We’ve recently purchased a dog called Maughera Ace who reminds me of Larry while we also have Limerick sprint record holder Cree Jo Jo coming into the kennels soon.

“I’m hoping Larry can earn himself a place in Monmore’s Hall of Fame when he retires, and I fancy him strongly to win this competition.

“We do also have Becky The Boo in it, though, and she’s a class act, while the up-and-coming Zilzal and ever-consistent Sparty Jaxx could also do well for us.

It’s nice to have Open competitions back at Monmore after a couple of months and we wish everyone involved all the best.”

Larry is in Heat Two of the 264 with another proven sprinter, Kim Billingham’s Across The Field and Chris Fereday’s Ballymac Cline also in the race.

Heat one of the sprint event features Craig Marston’s Kilwest Monty while William Russell brings over Magical Bluebear from Perry Barr.

The other Category Three competition is the 480 with three heats taking place and two dogs advancing from each to the final.

Monmore’s Greyhound of the Year for 2023, Barnfield Barra is going for glory for Billingham while Taberner has multiple entries, with Aero Arran the one he just fancies the most.

“There’s not much between them but Arran is a class act. He’s had two runs since a break over the winter and can only improve,” added Taberner.

“Bangon Jeremy is still a relative novice but has some good times behind him while Coologue Pest has lightning early pace and is an experienced campaigner.

Aero Fish is a youngster who can only improve, and Alien Wildfire has pace out wide, but I’d just say Arran has the best chance of our entries with his proven class.”

The final Open race on tonight’s card is a one-off 630m race which features Alan Jenkins’ Tabule, who has enjoyed a stunning return to form after an enforced seasonal break.

She has won two S1 races recently and makes her return to Open class in her preferred box, trap two.

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Monmore planning some special nights

Friday May 3rd 2024

Monmore Green’s elite Open competitions are returning to Saturday nights with several warm-up events coming before both the Ladbrokes Gold Cup and Summer Stayers Classic.

The two Category One events so far this year at the Wolverhampton track saw both the Ladbrokes Winter Derby and Premier Greyhound Racing Puppy Derby take place during Saturday lunchtimes in February and March respectively.

But now Saturday nights will be spiced up ahead of the Gold Cup and Summer Stayers, which run concurrently with the finals on August 24th.

The first of four sets of Category Three competitions over the next few months are being advertised for next Saturday, May 11 in the aim of attracting the country’s best greyhounds for healthy crowds to enjoy with the lighter nights coming in.

Two further Category Three events are also planned for June, and then another in July, before the Gold Cup and Summer Stayers - both worth £10,000 to the winner - begin on August 10.

Monmore racing manager Tony Williamson: “We’re looking forward to the return of Open racing on Saturday nights here at Monmore in the form of several Category Three competitions.

“Fingers crossed, we’ll attract the best greyhounds in preparation for our two remaining Category One competitions, the Gold Cup and Summer Stayers Classic.

“It should all make for some exciting Saturday nights for racegoers to enjoy at the track over the next few months.”

Meanwhile, Monmore trainer Brian Thompson and owners Vixon Contracts Ltd are looking to have a crack at Britain’s most prestigious event with prized pup Vixons Filofax.

The youngster made the semi-finals of the Puppy Derby at Monmore and has continued to go from strength to strength - also making the semi-finals of the Premier Greyhound Racing Oaks at Perry Barr – with getting into the English Greyhound Derby now the aim.

Beginning on May 29th at Towcester, a whopping £175,000 prize is on offer for the eventual winner and Filofax is due to head to the track for a trial on Tuesday.

It comes after he ran a quick 15.47secs in a solo sprint trial at Monmore on Thursday night and owner Matt Povey – who runs contracting firm Vixon Contracts Ltd – said: “He won an Open at Perry Barr last weekend and ran well in his trial at Monmore on Thursday.

“We’re really pleased with how he’s progressing and looking forward to seeing how he takes to Towcester as we feel he’s got the talent to be involved in the Derby.”

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Billingham taking her dogs to Limits

Friday April 19th 2024

Monmore Green’s most prolific greyhound so far this year looks to continue his hot streak at the track tomorrow.

Outer Limits, trained by Kim Billingham and owned by Mr M.L Sweeney, has six graded victories to his name in 2024 and has also won his last three outings.

The two-year-old originally raced over the standard four-bend trip but having switched to the 264m sprint distance, he has not looked back and runs again at 11.47am on Monmore’s Saturday lunchtime card.

“He’d won over 480m, but we thought we’d try him over the sprint distance as he’s always trapped really well,” said Billingham, whose kennels are in Swindon in South Staffordshire.

“It’s paid off as he’s won six sprints this year, moving up from D3 to D1. He’s hit a very good vein of form.

“I must say, he’s a lovely dog to have at the kennels. As well as coming into his own at the track, he’s a lovely, affectionate dog and a pleasure to have around.

“Greyhounds mature at different rates, and it perhaps took him a little longer to really find his feet, but he’s been very consistent as of late.

“He’s timing it just right and trapping very well, which you have to do as a sprinter, so we’re really pleased.

“And on top of that, again, he’s a lovely dog temperament-wise.”

Outer Limits’ kennelmate Barnfield Barra had the most graded wins at Monmore throughout 2023, racking up 14 successes for Billingham.

She has also been delighted with the form of Across The Field, who has won three Open races from his last four outings at both Doncaster and Oxford, while Beatties Sparkle has won two six-bend outings in succession at Oxford.

Meanwhile, Monmore trainer Chris Fereday could land a Category One trophy this Sunday as No Better Feelin runs in the £17,500 Gymcrack final at Sheffield.

The September ’22 pup finished second in his semi-final last weekend to advance to the showpiece, although he has a tough draw from trap three having ran from the one box in each of his previous four British outings.

Over at Perry Barr tomorrow night, Vixons Filofax is in another Category One semi-final for Monmore trainer Brian Thompson and owners Vixon Contracts Ltd.

Having impressed in last month’s Puppy Derby at Monmore, he now looks to make the final of The Laurels which is worth £12,500 to the eventual winner.


Sheffield success would leave Fereday with No Better Feelin

Friday April 12th 2024

Monmore Green trainer Chris Fereday is feeling optimistic as he has a crack at Category One glory with an exciting new pup.

Fereday, whose kennels are in Walsall, saw last month's £20,000 Premier Greyhound Racing Puppy Derby at Monmore come a touch too soon for No Better Feelin.

However, the Gymcrack at Sheffield has arrived at an ideal time for the 19-month-old railer, who finished second in his heat last week to advance to this Sunday's semi-finals.

No Better Feelin runs from trap one at 3.17pm as Fereday looks to become Monmore's second Category One finalist of 2024 - after Richie Taberner and Sacundai got to the Ladbrokes Winter Derby showpiece at their home track in February.

"By the time we'd got him here at the kennels, the Puppy Derby was just that bit too soon," said Fereday.

"He had some good trials, though, and then we put him in a graded race, an A4, which he won convincingly.

"After that, we put him in a puppy open and he finished second behind Vixons Filofax (Brian Thompson) which was a good achievement as he found a bit of trouble at the bend but ran on well.

"We've gone for the Gymcrack and thought that may be a little bit early, but he did well to finish second in his heat last week. He's got a good draw for the semi-final, trap one, and I think we may have the slightly easier of the semis, so we're very optimistic.

"He's still a baby, very young, but he's got a good make-up that's for sure.

"We'll see how it goes but he's a very exciting prospect."

In the graded ranks at Monmore, Fereday is fifth in the trainers' table for wins.

He admits he has been enjoying the Open scene a little more so far this year, though, with one of the highlights being the form of Sugar Boy Franky in marathon races.

"It's been really enjoyable seeing Sugar Boy Franky do well over the longer distances," added Fereday.

"He's won twice over 847m at Oxford and then finished third in a 900m marathon at Monmore a couple of weeks ago against some really high-class dogs.

"There's not many marathon races about but we're willing to travel - there's a 942m race at Towcester or 955m at Hove that'd probably suit him.

"He's in a 660m at Sheffield on Sunday. He definitely wants a longer trip, the further the better really.

"He likes to go from last to first, stay out of the way and then pick his spot, so his running style really excites me."

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Jenkins has a top dog for the future

Friday April 5th 2024

Monmore Green trainer Alan Jenkins believes Ivy Hill George could have a bright future as a stayer after making a top final at the track.

George, who has only just turned two, has successfully made the step up to the 630m race distance in recent weeks having got to the Jim Woods Memorial Trophy showpiece last weekend.

The wide runner finished fifth against a classy field after a second-place finish in heats a couple of weeks ago.

Tomorrow night sees him take on the six-bend trip once more, and Jenkins said: “George has done very well for us so far.

“He couldn’t really get going in the Jim Woods final as the two dogs inside him, in both trap four and five, were also wide runners, so they came across and he couldn’t really get through.

“He was very slow out of the traps in the semi-finals but made up a lot of ground to finish second which was quite the feat as he seemed to miss the break.

“It was his first time coming out of the boxes on that side of the track, so it’s all a bit new to him. He’s still a bit green as he’s only just turned two.

“He’s having another go at six bends on Saturday night and fingers crossed, he does well, and we can start looking at some more Open races with him as we think he wants the longer distance.

“If he doesn’t take to it, we can always go back to the standard 480m but, hopefully, he’ll continue the way he has been and do well over six bends.”

Ivy Hill George is one of the many dogs who have been impressing for Jenkins as of late.

The Bishops Wood-based handler topped the win percentage standings for the track’s trainers in March at 24.65 per cent – 18 of 73 runners during the month victorious.

He hopes to have top performer Swift Battery – recently voted Bitch of the Year for 2023 by the Monmore Green Owners’ Association – back from season by the end of the month as well.

“The dogs have been running well recently. We had Adams Anvil win three out of four races in March,” added Jenkins.

“His last win was at 28/1 as well, which was nice, while we should have a couple of dogs back soon.

“Swift Reassure is back trialling and Tabule is also running in a 480m race on Saturday night, while Swift Battery should be back later this month.

“Hopefully, they can all be back running with the sun on their backs over the coming weeks and months.”

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Dollar cashes in at Monmore to win Puppy Derby

Tuesday 2nd April 2024

The aptly named Untold Dollar put in a stunning performance to win the £20,000 Premier Greyhound Racing Puppy Derby final at Monmore Green.

Having been the quickest in the semi-finals, Dollar went into the Saturday lunchtime showpiece as the 2/1 favourite and duly delivered for unattached trainer Carol Weatherall and owners Callum and John Purdy.

He clocked a time of 28.21secs, seeing off the challenge of a game Barntick Bear (Patrick Janssens, Towcester) to win this year’s staging of the prestigious event dating back to 1943.

The August ’22 pup – whose three races in Britain so far have all come in the Puppy Derby – typically shot out of the boxes from trap two and just beat Droopys Eunice (Maxine Locke, Romford) and Getup Me Champ (Belinda Green, Hove) to the front of the queue at the first bend.

Bear, having also trapped slowly before making up a lot of ground in the semi-finals, kicked into gear on the back straight but Dollar was not to be caught and prevailed by half a length.

Clona Curly (Diane Henry, Towcester) finished in third and Omuircheartaigh (Tom Heilbron, Newcastle) fourth, while Eunice and Champ came fifth and sixth respectively in a thrilling affair.

The other big final on the card was the Category Three Jim Woods Memorial Trophy run in tribute to Monmore’s former racing manager, with Green’s Baywatch Bullet landing the £1,500 winners’ purse in emphatic fashion.

Bullet very much lived up to his name as he triumphed by seven-and-a-half lengths in the 630m race, leaving the rest of field trailing his wake.

Also on the card, Heilbron superstar Links Maverick – who won the Ladbrokes Gold Cup at the track last August – managed another sub-28secs time at Monmore as he won the 480 Division One race in 27.96.

The not-often-seen 900m Marathon race saw Henry’s Savana Heross come flying out before kennelmate Savana Jazz showed the stamina required to eventually win over eight bends.

The other Opens saw Droopys Doughnut (Janssens), Gary The Arb (Green) and Vixons Filofax (Brian Thompson) each claim impressive victories.

Filofax could be one to keep a close eye on in the coming months for Monmore trainer Thompson having looked a class apart in his latest success.

Omuircheartaigh winner

Pup for the cup in the richest race in Monmore calendar

Friday 29th March 2024

Monmore Green’s most lucrative competition comes to a head tomorrow as six of the best compete for the £20,000 Premier Greyhound Racing Puppy Derby crown.

Race nine on tomorrow’s lunchtime card sees Droopys Eunice (Maxine Locke, Romford), Untold Dollar (Carol Weatherall), Barntick Bear (Patrick Janssens, Towcester), Getup Me Champ (Belinda Green, Hove), Omuircheartaigh (Tom Heilbron, Newcastle) and Clona Curly (Diane Henry, Towcester) battle it out in the prestigious event, dating back to 1943.

Green hopes to win it for the second year running after Bradys Bullet’s success in 2023, although Getup Me Champ has the longest odds this time around at 16/1.

Clona Curly and Untold Dollar are both at 5/2 while Omuircheartaigh – the only greyhound to win both heats on way to the final – is at 4/1 alongside Barntick Bear, with Droopys Eunice at 6/1.

Monmore racing manager Tony Williamson said: “It’s a fantastic final with all of the greyhounds thoroughly deserving of their place in it.

“Droopys Eunice finished second in each of her heats while Untold Dollar was the quickest in last week’s semi-finals.

“Barntick Bear had a superb last-to-first triumph for Patrick Janssens in the semis while Getup Me Champ has two strong second-place finishes to his name.

“Omuircheartaigh has probably been the standout so far with two victories in the build-up to the final, but Clona Curly was the competition favourite coming into it and remains heavily fancied by the bookmakers.

“All of them have a chance and we wish the very best of luck to all connections for what should be a cracking race.”

Admission to the racing at Monmore tomorrow is free with doors opening at 10am and the Puppy Derby final supported by several other Open races.

The Jim Woods Memorial Trophy – in its second year and ran in tribute to the track’s former racing manager – also concludes following three semi-finals last weekend.

Mark Wallis has two wide runners in the 630m £1,500 final, with Jacktavern Magic and Ballymac Johnjo running from trap four and five respectively.

Home trainer Alan Jenkins may fancy his chances with Ivy Hill George in trap six while fellow Monmore handler Richie Taberner has Ravenswell Bob going for glory from two.

Among the other Open races is a rarely seen 900m marathon which includes Chris Fereday pair Tommys Dove and Sugar Boy Franky.

The last race on the card, meanwhile, sees last year’s Ladbrokes Gold Cup champion Links Maverick (Heilbron) look to add to his stellar record.

Untold Dollar winner

Price-d out – but Dollar looks quids in after a stormer

Tuesday March 26th 2024

The darts superstar Gerwyn Price-owned Icemans Girl fell just short in her quest to make the Premier Greyhound Racing Puppy Derby final at Monmore Green.

The three-time Grand Slam of Darts champion’s recent purchase, trained by Nathan Hunt, won in the initial heats and put in another strong showing in this past weekend’s semi-finals, but having finished third in her race she did not advance to this Saturday’s £20,000 showpiece.

Fellow home greyhound Vixons Filofax, trained by Brian Thompson and owned by Vixon Contracts Ltd, also exited the competition.

It was the Carol Weatherall-trained Untold Dollar who enjoyed the most emphatic victory of the meeting.

Running from trap two in semi-final two on Saturday lunchtime, the August ’22 dog pinged the lids and shot clear to avoid trouble at the first bend, going on to win by seven-and-three-quarter lengths.

Untold Dollar’s 28.27secs winning time was also the quickest of the three semi-finals, with Belinda Green (Hove) flyer Getup Me Champ showing the necessary stamina to take second place while Filofax finished sixth.

Semi-final one was won by Tom Heilbron (Newcastle) star Omuircheartaigh, following up a strong triumph in the first-round heats with another commanding display – a couple of lengths ahead of Droopys Eunice (Maxine Locke, Romford). Price’s Girl followed just behind in third.

Barntick Bear (Patrick Janssens, Towcester), despite being slowest to the first bend, then went through the gears to take the spoils in semi-final three while competition favourite Clona Curly (Diane Henry, Towcester) also moved a step closer to the trophy.

Semi-final one, race seven on the lunchtime card, was delayed by 15 minutes due to traffic affecting the second kennelling at Monmore – the rest of the races on the card also having revised off times.

Lots of eyes were on Omuircheartaigh and the Heilbron flyer did not disappoint, refusing to let some crowding at the first bend knock him off his stride and winning in 28.41.

Untold Dollar stormed through the second semi-final but three dogs were in a photo-finish for second, with Getup Me Champ just beating Bramble Tango (Steven Anderson, Newcastle) and Droopys Supply (Janssens) to the punch.

Hove-based trainer Green will hope Champ can go all the way next week and retain the Puppy Derby crown for her kennels after Bradys Bullet’s success last year.

Northern Puppy Derby winner Clona Curly had to settle for second place once more but did the job to make it to the final behind Barntick Bear, who burst into action on the back straight and flew around the final two bends to emerge victorious in 28.29.

The finalists for the Jim Woods Memorial Trophy were also set with Mark Wallis duo Ballymac Johnjo and Jacktavern Magic each victorious while Baywatch Bullet (Green) won the other heat.

Monmore trainers Richie Taberner and Alan Jenkins saw Ravenswell Bob and Ivy Hill George respectively advance with second-place finishes. Kilara Show (Richard Rees, Hove) completes the field for the £1,500 final run in tribute to Monmore’s long-serving former racing manager.

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Filofax aims to make rivals take note in race for final place

Friday March 22nd 2024

Surprise package Vixons Filofax looks to make another major statement for trainer Brian Thompson in tomorrow’s Premier Greyhound Racing Puppy Derby semi-finals at Monmore Green.

Last weekend saw the field in the top-tier event halved from 36 greyhounds to 18, with Filofax putting in a commanding display to win one of the day’s six heats.

A similar performance from the young dog – who boasts two wins from seven outings – could well be enough to see him into the £20,000 final.

He does, however, run from trap one in semi-final two at 12.47pm when his ideal box would either be three or four – while the much-fancied Untold Dollar (Carol Weatherall) is in trap two.

Filofax did burst out of the boxes in victory last week, and Thompson said: “If he traps well, I think he’ll win.

“He’s not a dog to come from behind, really, but if he traps he’s got a really good chance.

“He’s getting fitter each time he runs. He’s the star in the kennel at the moment. He’s the fastest dog we’ve got, there’s no denying that.

“If he improves another couple of lengths, then we’ve got a major star on our hands.

“He’s only seven races and not many trials either. But since we brought him back in Febrary, he’s steadily improved each week.

“He’s improved each time, so hopefully he can do that again this weekend and make the final.”

Filofax is owned by Vixon Contracts Ltd, a Wolverhampton-based contracting firm headed up by Matt Povey.

He has been a major owner with Thompson and a loyal supporter of greyhounds at Monmore, with this being his first Category One semi-finalist.

“We’re excited to see how he does. Filofax has not had many races for his age so should improve with each run he gets,” added Povey.

“It would be nice to win again but the main thing is to try to qualify for the final.

“Another big run will be needed to finish in the top two. Fingers crossed he can do it.”

Also in the semi-finals, superstar darts player Gerwyn Pryce remains in the hunt for Puppy Derby glory with Icemans Girl. The Nathan Hunt-trained bitch runs from her preferred box, trap one in semi-final one having won her heat last weekend.

She does, however, go up against Omuircheartaigh (Tom Heilbron, Newcastle) – the quickest greyhound in the first round and the bookmakers’ second-favourite to win the competition – and well-fancied duo Droopys Eunice (Maxine Locke, Romford) and Gary The Arb (Belinda Green Hove).

In the third semi-final, 3/1 competition favourite Clona Curly (Diane Henry, Towcester) is in trap five while Patrick Janssens (Towcester) pair Deelish Nora and Barntick Bear both have the potential to go all the way.

The Puppy Derby semis will be supported by three heats in Category Three event, the Jim Woods Memorial Trophy.

Named in tribute to Monmore’s long-serving former racing manager, this is the second instalment of the annual 630m competition.

Two dogs will advance from each of the three heats to next week’s final, with home trainers Kim Billingham, Richie Taberner, Chris Fereday, Nathan Hunt and Alan Jenkins all having entries.

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Icemans Girl coolly through to semis

Monday March 18th 2024

The darts superstar Gerwyn Price-owned Icemans Girl won her British debut to make it through to the Premier Greyhound Racing semi-finals at Monmore Green.

Having shown strong form in Ireland as Epic Bella and trialled well in front of a watching Price at the Wolverhampton track last week, the July 22 pup – trained by Nathan Hunt – stormed home in a time of 28.78secs to triumph in one of six first-round heats.

She has also been drawn in her preferred box, trap one for this coming weekend’s semi-finals which will no doubt excite the three-time grand slam champion, although he was unable to see her victory in person on Saturday afternoon.

Icemans Girl is joined in the semis by fellow ‘home’ dog Vixons Filofax, who moved closer to the £20,000 winners’ prize with a convincing success in heat three for Monmore trainer Brian Thompson and owners Vixon Contracts Ltd.

Omuircheartaigh, trained by Newcastle’s Tom Heilbron, had the quickest time of the meeting while none of the favourites won on the day.

Heilbron’s middle seed ran an impressive 28.16secs, with last month’s Northern Puppy Derby victor Clona Curly (Diane Henry, Towcester) having to settle for second in that race.

Clona Curly was the 4/7 favourite but at least got through to the semi-finals. Ricky Holloway’s Miss Syd from Crayford, a 7/4F in race seven, and the Maxine Locke-trained Droopys Display from Romford, 6/4F in race 10, failed to advance having finished sixth and fourth respectively.

The first heat saw Patrick Janssens (Towcester) dog Droopys Supply finish well and take the spoils ahead of Getup Me Champ (Belinda Green, Hove) and wide runner Bramble Tango (Steven Anderson, Newcastle).

Union Rebel (Kevin Hutton, Oxford) then burst out of the traps and led all the way to run out victorious in race eight – Deelish Nora (Janssens) and another British debutant in Untold Dollar (Carol Weatherall) in a dead-heat for second place.

Vixons Filofax was a 6/1 winner in the next heat, victorious by fourth lengths ahead of Clona Kody (Richard Rees, Hove) and Gary The Arb (Green), a convincing display in 28.37secs.

Icemans Girl (Hunt) managed to best Droopys Eunice (Locke) and Madabout Peck (Heilbron) in a hotly-contested race 10, while Hutton’s Coppice Ella finished third behind Clona Curly (Henry) and Omuircheartaigh (Heilbron) in heat five.

Hutton had his second winner in the final race as Ballymac Zari went home in 28.47 – Barntick Bear (Janssens) second and Droopys Auntie (Paul Young, Romford) third.

Omuircheartaigh runs from trap five once more in the first of three semi-finals next weekend. Vixons Filofax, who tends to prefer trap three or four, faces a tough job from trap one in the second semi while competition favourite Clona Curly has trap five in semi-final three.

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Darts' Iceman price targets cool £20k in Puppy Derby

Friday March 15th 2024

Darts superstar Gerwyn Price is going for glory with a promising new recruit as the Premier Greyhound Racing Puppy Derby begins at Monmore Green tomorrow.

Price, world champion in 2021, visited the Wolverhampton stadium this past Tuesday to see his aptly-named Icemans Girl run in a trial, clocking a healthy 28.42secs in her first look at the track.

Now she is competing for a £20,000 prize in the Puppy Derby and runs from trap one in race 10 tomorrow - one of six first-round heats that will see three dogs advance from each.

Icemans Girl was purchased by Price having previously raced as Epic Bella in Ireland and is now trained by fellow Welshman Nathan Hunt, who is dual-attached to both Monmore and Romford.

She is one of two greyhounds taking part in the 36-dog event for Hunt, with the other being Seaview Sydney who runs from trap five in the same race.

"Bella is the first greyhound Gerwyn has had with us although he's been involved in the sport for a while," said Hunt.

"He had her from John Kennedy in Ireland and she's had a couple of trials since coming over to us.

"To do that trial time this week was impressive considering she's only been in the kennel for a few weeks.

"Ideally going into the Puppy Derby she'd have been with us for a couple of months, so to do that time after such a short space of time is promising.

"She's got trap one which will suit her but Maxine Locke's pair, Droopys Eunice and Droopys Display have a chance of going deep into the competition as they both got to the Northern Puppy Derby final at Newcastle last month.

"We've been a bit unlucky to have Bella and Sydney drawn together in the same race.

"Sydney's had a couple of setbacks and a bit of a stop-start career up to yet.

"He's got ability but just needs that race experience.

"If the competition was next month and we'd had a bit more time, I'd perhaps be a bit more confident.

"Whatever happens on Saturday though, we're excited to see how they both do and I'm sure they have bright futures."

Bella and Sydney are two of five 'home' dogs involved in the Puppy Derby, with most of the entries coming from trainers based away from Monmore.

Vixons Filofax, trained by Brian Thompson, and Kim Billingham's New To Me find themselves in race nine.

Ian Langford's Cor Blimey runs in race 12 after an eye-catching triumph last weekend.

Clona Curly, trained by Towcester's Diane Henry, goes into the competition having won the prestigious Northern Puppy Derby at Newcastle last month.

Maxine Locke (Romford) pair Droopys Eunice and Droopys Display came second and fourth respectively in that final, and they are also competing in this event.

Kevin Hutton (Oxford) had Coppice Ella finish third in the North East showpiece and she goes from trap six in race 11 tomorrow.

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Barra makes grade to be crowned top dog at Monmore

Friday March 8th 2024

Trainer Kim Billingham is full of pride after having Barnfield Barra crowned Monmore Green’s graded greyhound of the year.

Barra, a three-year-old black dog owned by Mr N Parkes, was the star performer in the graded ranks at the Wolverhampton track throughout 2023.

His stellar record of 14 victories from 37 outings meant he topped the list for wins, starting at A4 and rising to A1 while he also enjoyed an Open race triumph in June.

“He’s been an exceptional performer for us and very consistent as well,” said Billingham.

“He’s exceeded at the top level and carried that form into 2024, so we’re absolutely delighted with him and glad he’s been recognised.

“He’s won four of eight races this year, meaning he’s still winning half of his races.

“He’s still going strong. You couldn’t ask for much more. He’s an absolute joy to train.”

While Barra claimed both the graded greyhound of the year and most wins gongs, the honour of most runs throughout goes to the Chris Jones-trained Winterfield Kell.

The June 2020 wide runner stayed in top-top shape throughout the year and had 61 races, winning nine.

He began the year in sprints before moving up to the standard 480m trip and competing as high as A3. Kell has won two A6 races this year as well.

Tomorrow at Monmore, preparations for the Premier Greyhound Racing Puppy Derby continue with five Open races on the lunchtime card.

Barra’s kennelmate New To Me looks to impress for Billingham in race 10 and seal his spot in the Puppy Derby field, with the competition beginning next week and the £20,000 final taking place on March 30th.

He finished fifth last time out in a race won by Patrick Janssens’ Deelish Nora, who he faces again this time around.

Most of the greyhounds competing in the Opens are from away trainers but one more Monmore-based handler is going for glory, with Ian Langford’s Cor Blimey running from trap six in race 12 and chasing a first Open triumph.

Langford and fellow Monmore trainer Craig Marston then each have runners in the Category Two Queen Mother Memorial Cup final at Sheffield on Sunday afternoon.

Fridays Eske runs from trap four for Langford while Marston’s Dubai Kid is in five and vying for the £3,000 winners’ purse.

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Billingham's young charge chasing another victory

Friday March 1st 2024

Kim Billingham pup New To Me looks to continue his charge towards Monmore’s Premier Greyhound Racing Puppy Derby in one of several Open races tomorrow.

The £20,000 event begins at the Wolverhampton track on March 16, with the lunchtime action tomorrow acting as a warm-up for the greyhounds likely to be put forward for the prestigious competition.

New To Me, born in June 2022, goes from trap six in race seven – the first of six one-off Opens – after a career-best 28.46secs in victory last time out.

The wide runner boasts an impressive four wins and two seconds from eight starts in his young career, and Billingham said on the bright prospect: “We hope to have some exciting times ahead with him.

“Together with Bill Skidmore, we picked him out at 12 weeks old over in Ireland from the litter reared by Damian Matthews.

“His mother, Million Dreams raced for us, and we’re delighted with how New To Me has started his racing career at Monmore.

“For such a young dog, he has sensational early pace and to date that’s been his main weapon.

“He’s a straightforward dog with a wonderful temperament and been an absolute pleasure to train so far.”

New To Me lines up against a strong field including Salacres Tipster, trained by Towcester’s Peter Harnden, who was a surprise winner in Open action last weekend at Monmore having been priced at 33/1.

Fellow Monmore-based dog Drumdoit Finn, trained by Ian Langford and owned by the Gafa Syndicate, runs in race eight.

Vixons Filofax – who grabbed a maiden career triumph for Brian Thompson and owners Vixon Contracts Ltd last weekend – looks to make it back-to-back successes in race nine.

The strongest of the races on paper is the 1.02pm affair featuring Belinda Green (Hove) flyer Gary The Arb, Union Rebel (Kevin Hutton, Oxford) and Droopys Display (Maxine Locke, Romford).

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Filofax eyes quick start in search of maiden victory

Friday February 23rd 2024

Trainer Brian Thompson hopes the ‘tremendous early pace’ of Vixons Filofax gives him a shot at glory in Open race action at Monmore Green tomorrow.

With the £10,000 Ladbrokes Winter Derby coming to a head last week and Churchfield Syd sensationally clinching the prize for Hove handler Richard Rees, attention now turns to greyhounds born in or after April 2022 with the Premier Greyhound Racing Puppy Derby starting on March 16.

Tomorrow sees three one-off Opens take place with dogs eligible for that competition, and Filofax runs from trap five in the 12th and final race on the lunchtime card.

The April ’22 pup – formerly known as Easy King – is looking to register his first British victory having had four races since being purchased at auction at the Wolverhampton track last summer.

Assessing his chances, Thompson said: “He’s got tremendous early pace. He does 15.40secs regularly in sprints so he’s got every chance of leading if he traps.

“If he doesn’t trap, he won’t win, but he’s got every chance with that early pace.

“It’s worth a shot going in it. He wasn’t staying when we first got him, but he did a decent trial over four bends last week in 28.64secs.

“It’ll be interesting to see how he goes. We’re giving it our best shot.”

Filofax is one of seven runners tomorrow lunchtime for Thompson, whose dogs have also been running well in the graded ranks at Monmore. He was second in the trainers’ standings for win percentage heading into this weekend.

Filofax’s owner Matt Povey, who runs local contracting firm Vixon Contracts and names all of his greyhounds with the ‘Vixons’ prefix, added: “He’s on his journey back to fitness and we’re looking forward to seeing how he goes.

“His last competitive run was in November so, hopefully, he traps well and can keep building momentum over the next several weeks.”

The other two Opens tomorrow are mainly made up of visiting trainers’ dogs and race 10 should be an interesting affair.

Belinda Green (Hove) flyer Gary The Arb runs from trap four after a blistering 28.18secs in victory last weekend.

Mark Wallis’ Vis A Vis – also victorious at Monmore last weekend – is among those competing in race 11.

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It’s derby delight for Syd and his owners as Monmore hosts an epic winter final

Tuesday February 20th 2024

There were tears of joy at the winners’ podium as Churchfield Syd ran a remarkable race to clinch the Ladbrokes Winter Derby crown at Monmore Green.

An epic back-and-forth battle at the Wolverhampton track saw superstar Syd – trained by Hove’s Richard Rees – get the better of Elizabeth McNair’s King Capaldi to grab the £10,000 prize.

It was a case of third time lucky at Monmore for the three-year-old wide runner having come second in last summer’s Gold Cup final and pulled up with an injury while well in front in last year’s Puppy Derby semi-finals.

Emotional handler Rees said after the triumph: “We’re just so proud of Syd. He’s a sensational dog and an absolute joy for us to train.
“He’s come close a couple of times before at Monmore, so it makes this that bit sweeter.

“It’s a second Category One win for him after also winning the Premier Greyhound Racing Kent Derby at Central Park last October, and he’s beaten some fantastic dogs.

“He dug down deep to find that bit extra to beat Capaldi to the punch, showing his determination and class.

“We’ve all put a lot of work in ahead of the final, so to see it pay off is brilliant. We’re all over the moon.”

The Winter Derby final was the 12th and final race of Monmore’s Saturday lunchtime card, with Richie Taberner’s Aero Sacundai, Tom Heilbron pair Links Maverick and Bogger Rambo, and McNair’s King Sydney the other greyhounds involved in the prestigious event.

Syd came flying out of the traps to lead at the first bend. Capaldi then regained the advantage on the back straight and led to the run in, before Syd found a second wind to power home in a time of 28.15secs.

Bookmakers’ favourite Maverick, who got crowded out going into the first bend, could only finish fourth behind kennelmate Rambo. Sydney was fifth and Sacundai sixth.

The other finals on the day – three Category Three events – all saw outsiders land the spoils, with the biggest shock coming in the Ladbrokes Winter Dash.
Carefree Chief, trained by Ian Reynolds, put in a sublime showing to win the two-bend affair ahead of Kim Billingham veteran Across The Field having been priced at 28/1.

The Winter Maiden final saw Maxine Locke’s Stonepark Champ (6/1) grab an emphatic four-length triumph having led all the way.
Hurry Up Jordan (John Lambe), priced at 7/1, then showed the stamina required to run out victorious after Aayamza Sydney (John Mullins) slowed in the Ladbrokes Dual Distance Stayers over the 684m trip.

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Links Maverick could claim second top level victory in Winter Derby

Friday February 16th 2024

The marvellous Links Maverick could win his second Category One Open competition at Monmore Green as the £10,000 Ladbrokes Winter Derby final takes place tomorrow.

Trained by the Newcastle-based Tom Heilbron, Maverick is the bookmakers’ favourite to take the spoils in a star-studded final and add to his Ladbrokes Gold Cup success at the Wolverhampton track last August.

He will be running from trap two in the 1.33pm event while kennelmate Bogger Rambo, in trap four, is also going for glory for Heilbron.

Elizabeth McNair (Central Park) pair King Sydney and King Capaldi are in trap three and five respectively.

Churchfield Syd is the race's only non-railer in trap six (Richard Rees, Hove) while home greyhound Aero Sacundai looks to remarkably go all the way for Monmore handler Richie Taberner.

It is the sixth Winter Derby Final since the competition's inception in 2019 and fourth on the spin at Monmore after the first two instalments took place at Hove.

"This is the best Winter Derby Final we've ever had," said Monmore racing manager Tony Williamson.

"It's been a fantastic competition and now six of the most elite greyhounds Britain has to offer are competing for a place in history by winning the Winter Derby.

"We wish all the best to everyone involved - may the best greyhound win."

The final is the 12th and last race on Monmore's lunchtime card tomorrow.

Beforehand there are three more finals, with a few Category Three Open events coming to a head after some exciting semi-finals last weekend.

The sprinters are first up in the Ladbrokes Winter Dash final. Belinda Green (Hove) flyer Bombout Bullet looks to follow up a sensational 15.15secs run last weekend - one of the quickest 264m times seen at Monmore in recent years.

Whisky Sallagh has been in good form for Monmore trainer Craig Marston, however, while Across The Field has long been a consistent performer for Kim Billingham.

Taberner - who also has 210m track record-holder Crossfield Larry in the Dash - hopes Bangon The Clock can do the business in the Ladbrokes Winter Maiden having been the quickest of the six finalists last week.

Fellow Monmore speedster Trinity Bestie looks to do trainer Gary Smith proud, though, and also boasts early pace.

Aayamza Sydney (John Mullins, Yarmouth/Towcester) and Ballymac Johnjo (Mark Wallis) look to be the main contenders for the Ladbrokes Dual Distance Stayers crown with several quality one-off Opens making up the rest of the card.

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Trainer thrilled to see home-track dog into final of Winter Derby

Tuesday February 13th 2024

Monmore Green trainer Richie Taberner has shared his immense pride after seeing Aero Sacundai get through to the final of the Ladbrokes Winter Derby.

Sacundai became the first Monmore dog to make a Category One final at the track since 2017 thanks to a stellar showing on Saturday afternoon, bursting out the traps to finish second in semi-final three behind Elizabeth McNair’s King Capaldi.

The two-year-old dog has drawn trap one for this coming weekend’s showpiece and takes on Links Maverick (Tom Heilbron, Newcastle), King Sydney (McNair, Central Park), Bogger Rambo (Heilbron), Capaldi (McNair) and Churchfield Syd (Richard Rees, Hove) for the £10,000 winners’ purse.

“We’re really proud of how Sacundai has done and I’m very thankful to my assistant, Jo Slater as she’s the one who’s really been looking after him,” said Taberner.

“To get to a Category One final against such a high-quality field is testament to the work that’s been put in and, of course, the talent of the dog.”

Assistant trainer Slater added: “He’s got fantastic early pace and we’re excited to see how he does in the final.

“If he can come out of the traps the way he did on Saturday and can lead at that first bend, he’ll be hard to beat.”

The last time a Monmore dog made a Category One final at the track was when Buckos Lass won the Summer Stayers Classic for Corren Price almost seven years ago.

Sacundai will have to be at his very best to also go all the way given how impressive the field is.

Links Maverick reminded everyone what a superstar he is with a sublime victory in the first semi-final. The Tom Heilbron-trained dog – who counts last year’s Ladbrokes Gold Cup at Monmore among a long list of accolades – clocked a time of 28.09secs, with familiar adversary Churchfield Syd (Richard Rees) finishing second.

Maverick’s kennelmate Bogger Rambo followed up a triumph in the first-round heats by taking the spoils in the second semi-final – Elizabeth McNair’s King Sydney in second place.

McNair’s King Capaldi, a box-office attraction in his own right, then managed to beat Links Maverick’s effort as he won semi-final three in 28.01secs ahead of Sacundai.

Also on Saturday morning were heats in three Category Three competitions – the Ladbrokes Winter Dash, Ladbrokes Winter Dual Distance Stayers and Ladbrokes Winter Maiden. Belinda Green’s Bombout Bullet had the standout showing in the Dash with a terrific 15.15secs – just 0.20secs off the track record – while Taberner veteran Crossfield Larry added yet another success to his extensive resume.

Aayamza Sydney (John Mullins) won by eight-and-a-half lengths to make the Dual Distance Stayers final, which will take place over 684m after the 630m heats.

Taberner’s Bangon The Clock – who had good form in Ireland as Good Maestro – then grabbed his first British win in the Maiden, in an eye-catching 28.18secs.

“It was a brilliant time from Bangon The Clock after he was really unlucky in the first round of the Winter Derby,” said Taberner.

“Crossfield Larry just keeps on going. He won’t quite have the pace as Bombout Bullet, but he traps as well as any dog, so if he does that again then they’ve got to get past him.

“Jo’s looking after those two, as well as Sacundai, at the kennels so deserves a great amount of credit. We’re really looking forward to next weekend now.”

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Monmore's best are ready to battle for open competitions

Friday February 9th 2024

Monmore Green’s best greyhounds are in the mix as three Category Three Open competitions begin at the track tomorrow morning.

The Saturday lunchtime card will be headlined by three top-drawer semi-finals in the Ladbrokes Winter Derby, with two dogs advancing from each and into next week’s £10,000 final.

Before those races, there will be three heats in the Ladbrokes Winter Dash, Ladbrokes Winter Dual Distance Stayers and Ladbrokes Winter Maiden respectively – each event seeing £1,500 go to the eventual victor.

Kicking things off is the Dash for the 264m sprinters and the first heat includes a track record-holder. Crossfield Larry, trained by Richie Taberner, boasts the fastest 210m the Wolverhampton stadium has ever seen having clocked a sensational 12.34secs last September.

Nathan Hunt’s Cunnigar Yousir – looking to bounce back over the shorter distance having failed to progress in the Winter Derby last week – managed the exact same time in a solo trial recently, though, making for an interesting affair. Kim Billingham’s New To Me has three wins and two seconds from five career outings and is also worth a look.

Paul Sallis’ Roxhill Merchant is among the Monmore-based runners in heat two while heat three has Craig Marston’s Whisky Sallagh in trap three.

Having recently won four Opens on the spin at Welsh track The Valley, Sallagh will have to be on song to make it into the first two and qualify for next week’s final as Bombout Bullet (Belinda Green, Hove) and Newinn Touch (Mark Wallis) have good pedigree.

The Dual Distance Stayers event will see tomorrow’s heats contested over 630m before the showpiece over 684m, testing the endurance of Aayamza Sydney (John Mullins, Yarmouth/Towcester).

Sydney was unlucky to miss the cut in the Winter Derby – finishing just 0.02secs behind third-placed Links Maverick in his heat – and previously made the final of the Essex Vase at Romford.

Pomba Jake has been a consistent performer for Hunt and runs from trap two in heat two, with Millridge Tanic going for glory for Chris Fereday in heat three.
Ballymac Johnjo – a strong winner in a one-off Open at Monmore last weekend – has the potential to go all the way for Wallis.

New Taberner recruit Bangon The Clock, having exited the Winter Derby, has another crack in the Winter Maiden. Alan Jenkins’ Swift Reassure has some quick times under her belt including a 28.46 in December and is in heat two. Seaview Sydney has trialled well recently and makes his competitive debut for Hunt in heat three.

Focusing on the main event, last year’s champion Coolavanny Shado (Patrick Janssens, Towcester) has a fight on his hands to make the Winter Derby final with Links Maverick (Tom Heilbron, Newcastle) and Churchfield Syd (Richard Rees, Hove) also in semi-final one.

Three first-round winners do battle in semi-final two in King Sydney (Elizabeth McNair, Central Park), Bogger Rambo (Heilbron) and Skywalker Pele (Ted Soppitt, Newcastle).

Monmore’s sole survivor Aero Sacundai (Taberner) is out in semi-final three, which boasts McNair superstars Queen Joni and King Capaldi.

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Aero Sacundai is the final Monmore hope for the Winter Derby

Tuesday February 6th 2024

Aero Sacundai is the sole dog still flying the flag for Monmore Green having made it through to the semi-finals of the Ladbrokes Winter Derby.

A top-quality first round of heats at Monmore this past Saturday lunchtime saw the field halved as Sacundai – trained by Richie Taberner – was the only one of the competition’s five home greyhounds making it through.

Sacundai led all the way to the third bend in the sixth heat before slowing slightly and being usurped by King Sydney of Elizabeth McNair (Central Park), who had three winners on the day with Queen Joni and King Capaldi also putting in impressive displays.

Sacundai has now drawn trap four next weekend in semi-final three which sees top performers Joni and Capaldi run from trap one and two respectively.

Assistant trainer Jo Slater said: “He slowed a little bit coming home but flew out of the traps to the first bend and led for a lot of the race.

“The track was a bit slow on Saturday and he’s still getting used to four bends, so all in all we’re happy with how he did. It was a good run all things considered.

“He’s got trap four for the semi-finals but we’re not too worried about that. He’s got the pace to get to the first bend, so fingers crossed he traps well and can get a clear run.

“He probably ran better from the middle when in trap three a couple of weeks ago than he did from trap one at the weekend as well, so we’re excited to see how he does in the semi-finals.”

Queen Joni clocked the quickest time of the day in the fourth heat – arguably the strongest race on paper - in 28.36secs.

The first heat saw wide runner Burj Khalifa (Diane Henry, Towcester) march to success, showing fine early pace before eventually beating Whyaye Man (Mark Wallis) and Queen Georgia (McNair).

Bogger Rambo (Tom Heilbron, Newcastle) enjoyed an impressive five-and-a-half length win in the second heat ahead of Get Up Me Boy and Betsys Bullet (both trained by Hove’s Belinda Green).

Skywalker Pele (Ted Soppitt, Newcastle) took the spoils in heat three before Queen Joni’s sublime showing in heat four, bursting out of the boxes from trap one and leading all the way to lay down a marker going into next week’s semis.

Not to be outshone by his kennelmate, King Capaldi also gained the advantage at the first bend and grabbed the victory in heat five.

The sixth and final heat was won by King Sydney as Sacundai and Drive On Lad (Rees) finished second and third to claim semi-final spots.

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Monmore all set for a high quality show in the race for glory

Friday February 2nd 2024

Six of Monmore Green’s fastest dogs are going for glory as the track’s ‘strongest’ Ladbrokes Winter Derby yet gets underway tomorrow.

The £10,000 Category One Open competition has attracted many of Britain’s best greyhounds, with trainers travelling from all over the country for the 36-dog event.

Tomorrow lunchtime sees six heats take place with three dogs advancing from each before three semi-finals next weekend, and two will then qualify from each of those for the showpiece on Saturday, February 17th.

It is the fourth year Monmore has hosted the Winter Derby and racing manager Tony Williamson believes – on paper at least – this is the greatest field seen in that time.

“We’ve had such quality entries this year and we’re really excited to get the competition started this weekend,” said Williamson.

“Last year’s winner, Coolavanny Shado – trained by Towcester’s Patrick Janssens – is back and hoping to retain his crown but will face a massive challenge.

“Links Maverick (Tom Heilbron, Newcastle) won the Gold Cup at Monmore last summer while Churchfield Syd (Richard Rees, Hove) ran superbly to win a star-studded Open here last weekend.

“Elizebeth McNair (Central Park) brings a superstar team that includes King Capaldi and Queen Joni and four Monmore trainers are involved in Richie Taberner, Kim Billingham, Alan Jenkins and Nathan Hunt.

“Taberner’s Aero Sacundai has enjoyed a perfect start to his career with four wins from as many races and could be one to watch. Billingham’s Barnfield Barra steps up to a Category One competition having been one of the track’s most consistent performers over the last year, while Jenkins’ Swift Battery will hope to advance to the latter stages along with Hunt’s Cunnigar Yousir who has exceptional early pace.

“All in all, it’s the strongest Winter Derby we’ve had yet and should be a brilliant event.”

The first of tomorrow’s six heats comes at 12.17pm and features Greyhound Board of Great Britain (GBGB) champion trainer Mark Wallis’ one and only entry, Whyaye Man. Romeo Cypher, trained by Romford’s David Mullins, is among the bookmakers’ favourites and runs from trap one.

The second heat features the Jenkins-trained Swift Battery who has drawn her preferred box, trap one, as she looks to be among the three to make it through to next week.

Get Up Me Boy (Belinda Green, Hove) could be a surprise package, though, after a sensational 28/1 victory in an Open at Monmore last weekend.

Cunnigar Yousir clocked a stunning 15.10secs 210m trial at Monmore a few weeks ago – unofficially equalling the track record – and looks to prove he can do the business over four bends in heat three.

Heat four looks to be the hardest to call with Coolavanny Shado, Queen Joni and Churchfield Syd all involved.

Droopys Eddie, trained by Romford’s Maxine Locke, will aim to replicate a sublime run at the Wolverhampton track last weekend in heat five while Taberner hopeful Aero Sacundai runs in heat six.


Sacundai leads the way as Taberner targets Winter glory

Friday January 26th 2024

Monmore trainer Richie Taberner is excited over what could be achieved as he hopes to launch a three-pronged attack on the Ladbrokes Winter Derby.

The £10,000 Category One competition begins next weekend and Taberner - Monmore's champion trainer for 2023 - is looking to put forward promising new recruits Aero Sacundai, Aero Bono and Bangon The Clock for the prestigious 36-dog event.

Sacundai, who has stormed his way to three wins from as many starts in his burgeoning career, and Bono, who has also won his last three outings having had just seven races, will be aiming to build momentum as they compete in high-class Opens at the Wolverhampton track tomorrow morning.

Taberner is optimistic for all three but focusing on the super-quick Sacundai, he said: "Sacundai was spotted for sale by Mike Woolgar, who’s part-owned Aero Dylan and Aero Squeak - he's a very lucky owner as Squeak and Dylan both won Category One semi-finals.

"Four of us went in shares for Sacundai - Mike, Geoff Ansley, Stuart Forsdike and myself.

"He’s a very fast dog and every kennel dreams of ammunition as explosive as him.

"Jo Slater (assistant trainer to Taberner along with Arran Dunn) handles his day-to-day schedule and has done fantastically well so far, with the dog unbeaten to date on English soil.

"We’ve been patient, building his fitness, and Saturday's test will show us if he’s ready for the big stage that is the excitement of your home track's Winter Derby.

"With his explosive early pace, we hope that should see him lead and then it’s catch him if you can.

"We are all very excited to see him over four bends as he has a 28.13secs trial at Shelbourne from when he was in Ireland, so we are hoping with our patience since he was last over four bends he will stay even stronger.

"Bono is handled by Arran Dunn day-to-day so both him and Jo have their kennel stars with three wins on the bounce each and it's healthy competition, while Bangon The Clock trialled very well this week. It's an exciting time for us."

Tomorrow sees Sacundai run from trap three in race 10 and line-up against a strong field that includes Betsys Bullet, trained by Hove's Belinda Green.

Bono, meanwhile, is out in the meeting's 12th and final race from trap six, with Kim Billingham's in-form Barnfield Barra the other Monmore-based dog in the group.

Alan Jenkins' brilliant bitch Swift Battery is also out in race nine.

Trainers from across the country are taking elite-level greyhounds to the track tomorrow in preparation for the Winter Derby and race six looks particularly star-studded.

Last year's Winter Derby winner Coolavanny Shado, trained by Towcester's Patrick Janssens, and 2023 Monmore Puppy Derby finalist Hesoneofourown (Belinda Green) run from trap two and one respectively.

Long Fellow (Matthew Dartnall, Oxford), Jonny Whiskers (Harry Burton, Pelaw/Newcastle) and Churchfield Syd (Richard Rees, Hove) all have Category One competition triumphs under their belt too, making for a must-watch affair.

Nathan Hunt

Nathan is on the Hunt for glory in the Winter Derby

Saturday January 13th 2024

Nathan Hunt is eyeing up next month’s Ladbrokes Winter Derby for Cunnigar Yousir after seeing the two-year-old flyer equal one of Monmore Green’s track records.

Yousir, an October 2021 brindle dog, turned heads at the Wolverhampton track this past Thursday night with a sensational 210m solo trial, clocking a super-quick time of 12.34 secs.

That time was the same as the record for the distance set by Richie Taberner star Crossfield Larry last September – albeit does not officially count given it was a trial – and comes at a handy time with the £10,000 Winter Derby starting on February 3.

The plan now is to gradually up the distances for Yousir in trials over the next few weeks and get him ready for the standard 480m in time for the prestigious Category One competition.

“We’ll probably take a chance with him, up him in distance now with the Winter Derby in mind,” said Hunt.

“He’s got a lot of early pace as the trial on Thursday showed.

“He needs a fast track which goes against him a little bit as it can be heavy this time of year and a lot of his races have been at Romford over 400m, so he’s got to get used to a proper go over four bends at Monmore.

“But we feel like he’s capable. He’s had a couple of races over 480m at Newcastle and won three of seven races so far in his career. He’s got the potential and is one of a few that we’re looking to enter into the Winter Derby.”

Yousir’s kennelmate Hopes Paddington knows what the Winter Derby is all about having made the final of the competition last year under former trainer Mark Wallis, finishing third in the final after winning both of his heats.

Hunt is considering another tilt at the crown for him, although he turns four this April and was inactive due to injury for a few months last year. Having been in the mix previously, though, he could be capable of turning back the clock while fellow veteran Antigua Woofwoof is in a similar situation.

Antigua Eclipse reached the All England Cup final at Newcastle in December and is considered the more realistic contender for the kennels.

Hunt, who had Paddington and Woofwoof both running in Opens at Monmore in today’s morning meeting, added: “Hopes Paddington and Antigua Woofwoof are both in Opens and if they go well, we’ll probably go for it with them as well.

“Paddington got to the final last year, of course, and was trialling well last summer at Monmore but chipped a bone in his hock and missed a chunk of racing while he was probably at the end of his peak.

“Antigua Eclipse got to the final of the All England Cup at Newcastle. He’s had sprint trials at Monmore but not had a run there yet. He’s run very well at Nottingham so should be suited to Monmore.

“We’ve also got one in mind for the Monmore Puppy Derby in March, Seaview Sydney.

“He’s trialling at Perry Barr tonight so we’ll see how he does. We’re excited to see how the next few months fare for us.”

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Morning slot for showcase events

Saturday January 6th 2024

Two of Monmore Green’s most prestigious and lucrative competitions will take place on Saturday mornings this year, the track has confirmed.

The Ladbrokes Winter Derby - for which the final takes place next month - and March’s Premier Greyhound Racing (PGR) Puppy Derby showpiece will both be staged in the stadium’s new Saturday AM time slot.

Monmore is hosting Saturday morning and evening double-headers as part of its TV coverage moving to the PGR service and general admission to those Category One Open competitions, due to feature some of Britain’s best greyhounds, will be free.

The Winter Derby heats will begin on February 3 before the £10,000 final on February 7.

The Puppy Derby follows shortly afterwards, getting under way on March 16 before the £20,000 main event on March 30.

Tony Williamson, Monmore’s racing manager, said: “It’s our first time hosting such high-quality events of a morning and we’re very much looking forward to seeing how this year’s events go.

“Both the Winter and Puppy Derby were brilliant competitions last year, with Patrick Janssens’ Coolavanny Shado excelling in the Winter before Belinda Green star Bradys Bullet had a thrilling last-to-first victory in the Puppy final.

“We’re excited to be hosting morning races again after many years and will also be holding minor Opens in our Saturday AM time slot, with the first Open races of 2024 coming next weekend.”

Monmore was today hosting its first Saturday morning meeting since the move to PGR, a full graded card, while tonight has another 12 graded races.

Race five this evening is a top-grade sprint and features the in-form Trubbys Cal, trained by Patricia Cowdrill, who steps up to D1 after a win and three seconds from her last four D2 outings.

Craig Marston’s Summer Swirl, in trap six, has three wins from her last four races, however, including an Open race at The Valley.

An A1 follows that race and includes the Brian Thompson-trained Stouke Salah – one of the track’s top performers in 2023 – along with Pat Doocey pair Longacres Baboo and Longacres Storm.

Marston’s Whisky On Ice looks to continue the excellent start to his career in race nine, having had seven wins and three seconds from just 12 starts while Whisky Georgia – who won Monmore’s first race of 2024 on Monday afternoon – is out in the night’s final race.