NEW ARRIVALS AND LEGER PLEDGE FOR NEW DONNY BOSS.....
With doubts over major competitions at a number of tracks in 2019, John Watson, join owner of Doncaster with his father Ted, has pledged that the Doncaster St.Leger will definitely take place.
John took a more hands-on role from the popular Yvonne Freeborn when the popular GM retired at the start of the year and inherited a slickly run operation with greyhound numbers at a record high.
John said: “Alex Hopkins has her first runners from this evening. She is bringing twenty plus, from Sheffield after her previous contract expired. The kennel strength is very strong at the moment, but we are always interested in new trainers.
“At the moment we haven’t decided on the best slot for the Doncaster Leger (it was held in October in 2018), but we are guaranteeing that the prize money will not be reduced.”
June McCombe finished 2018 as the leading graded kennel with 200 winners at a healthy average of 20.6%. Sue Watson head the highest strike rate of 26.3%. The leading graded winner was Brackenstone Sue with 13 victories.
Doncaster trainer June McCombe has no regrets or anger about shifting her operation to race at Doncaster following a 30 year association with Belle Vue.
The Rossendale handler made the switch in late 2017 and celebrated her first full year by becoming top trainer at the Stainforth circuit in 2018 with precisely 200 winners off a 20.6% strike rate.
June said: “I’d become disillusioned at Belle Vue and probably wasn’t far off giving the game up completely. But Doncaster couldn’t have been kinder. They can’t do enough for you.
“It takes between an hour and 20 minutes and an hour and a half to get to Doncaster compered to Belle Vue but the schedule suits me better. At Belle Vue, I nearly always had dogs in the top heat races, sometimes two or three of them, which were at the end of the meeting. That doesn’t happen now.
“We race Mondays and Wednesday nights, but I don’t have dogs in many late races and on Saturday we race in the afternoon. I am generally home by about 8pm, which is much better than the old midnight finishes. I wouldn’t do Sunday mornings at Belle Vue and Doncaster don’t ask me to either.”
So what do the owners make of it?
June said: “I think I lost four who didn’t want to move, but I have gained as many back including some other former Belle Vue owners. The kennel strength is about the same, roughly 30.”
Sean Parker currently heads the Doncaster trainers table with 46 winners and a strike rate of 21%. June is in second place with 29 winners (17%).