31 March 2021
We can, at last, see a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel. The Welsh Government has announced its intention to remove the Covid-19 restrictions on outdoor hospitality – as well as ‘organised outdoor activities’ for up to thirty people – from Monday 26 April. We will have to see how any revised rules are interpreted by the local authority (which licences The Valley), but it seems to open up the possibility of being able to restart racing some time in May with the majority of spectators (including anyone who wants an alcoholic drink) outside. Any further relaxation of Covid-19 restrictions will have to wait for the outcome of the Welsh Parliament elections in the first week of May. We’ll continue to do our best to keep you abreast of any news – check back here whenever you can.
The track reopened for trials (so that greyhounds can keep race-fit) last month. Owners must pre-book a timeslot for trials and then observe strict social-distancing at the track.
Despite these restrictions, most of The Valley’s owners have taken the opportunity to let their greyhounds stretch their legs. They include some promising unraced pups that look ready to make their debuts as soon as The Valley gets the thumbs up to resume racing.
12 December 2020
Apparently, throwing nails at a wall on live television can be quite lucrative, if you are good at it – which is a good thing because Gerwyn Price has been finding greyhound racing an expensive habit. He has invested in some very well-bred greyhounds from some of Ireland’s top kennels over the years and one or two of them have gone on to be very useful indeed. But he has also had the most terrible luck with injuries. Double Top and Nine Red managed only eleven races between them before they had to be retired. Grand Slam Double and He Knows Best both twanged something on debut. Gezzy was so excited about one purchase that he stopped off to race it at Askern in Yorkshire on the way back from picking it up, whereupon something went wrong twenty yards out of the traps. For all his famous battle roar on stage, Gezzy is a bit of a softy at heart and he tends to select the sort of greyhounds that nuzzle up to you and lick your hand. His latest investment, Perception, is a case in point. A gorgeous, gentle brindle greyhound, he marked his debut by showing decent pace on the run to the bend, at which point he eased dramatically and came off with a wrist swollen up like a tennis ball. It wasn’t a serious injury by any means, but Gezzy knew as well as anyone that it would only get worse if the dog continued to race. Perception didn’t look particularly concerned; Gezzy looked crestfallen.
It is, therefore, somewhat ironic that a dog purchased as an unraced pup for relative peanuts as the makeweight in a deal for another major Irish purchase looks like he could be the star that Gezzy has been searching for. Persuasion showed excellent early pace to win the top sprint seven days ago and, this week, he absolutely scorched to the bend and galloped home two lengths faster than any dog has managed since February 2019. It was only his third race of any sort, anywhere. No one can remember the last time a greyhound so young covered 310 yards at The Valley so quickly.
Rio has enough experience under his belt to shake off disappointments like his last, idiosyncratic run a fortnight ago and he doesn’t seem to have been bothered by his recent change of kennels either. He didn’t start particularly sharply in the top heat but his straight line pace was enough to see him make the bend and power away from a useful looking field, equalling the fastest time any dog has recorded over the standard distance in the last twelve months.
Speckled Hen flew out of the boxes a week ago but whacked the rail on the way round the first bend and had slowed almost to a stop by the time she reached the finishing line. In this week’s supporting heat, she was surprisingly beaten to the turn by Rose Brown but, equally surprisingly, showed great stamina to run round the outside at the third bend and pull clear. (You can watch some of the meeting’s top races by visiting the Videos section of this website).
5 December 2020
Sandstorm arrived at The Valley in August to some fanfare but, despite being given a lot of rope by the grader, turned in five very ordinary sprint appearances, culminating in two defeats by 12½ and 13 lengths respectively. In desperation, he was dragged all the way to Askern on a Friday night where he started as a long-odds no-hoper. He promptly rocketed round and has hardly looked back since. He bolted out of the traps in the top heat and seared to a 5.57 sectional. He was blowing a bit by the time he approached the line but still had enough in hand to hold off the fast-finishing Twins Pet by half-a-length.
Speckled Hen – another greyhound to find form from, seemingly, nowhere – almost equalled Sandstorm’s split in the supporting heat but then clanged off the rail as she turned. As she slowed she became something of a moving road block, which allowed Father and Son to draw clear for a facile win at a speed that was matched only by the haste with which both father and son then left the track.
The most unfortunate dog of the afternoon looked to be the inexperienced pup Persuasion. Having been mauled almost straight out of the boxes on a nightmare debut, he was rewarded by being forced into the top sprint on his reappearance. He looked outclassed as he came out at least two lengths behind his more seasoned opponents, but he then showed fabulous early pace – plus a fair deal of nerve – to squeeze inside at the bend and keep November’s star sprinter, Twins Lad, at bay.
New visitor Bertie flew out in the supporting sprint and had the race won within only a few strides.
28 November 2020
The passing of Roger Brooks last week brought back memories of his bitch, Shirley’s Sophie, who won only two open races in her 116 race career – but they just happened to be the heat and final of the 2016 Welsh Greyhound Derby. Similarly, Glyncoch Cloud Nine produced two amazingly strong finishes to win last year’s Derby but had never come remotely close to matching those performances ever since. Frequently turning at the back of the field, she can pick off lesser dogs but, when faced with classy opposition, she has often found that the race has gone before she kicks into gear. Going off at evens in the top heat, she looked very unfavourably priced and was duly four lengths down before the field reached the first bend. But she railed inside the speedsters and suddenly lit the turbos to reach the back straight in the lead and power home in the second fastest time of the year. Odds-on favourite Rio was left gasping for air a full ten lengths in arrears.
The supporting heat looked set to be the closest race of the night but Sandstorm powered clear on the run up and just kept going, knocking over 40 spots of his personal best as he romped away.
Punch Drunk popped out again in the top sprint but, after a slow start, Twins Pet showed excellent early pace to challenge and turned inside as they straightened for the run in.
But they would both have had to give second best to Speckled Hen who knocked a remarkable 80 spots off her previous two runs as she spreadeagled the field before they had even reached the first bend.