When Bower Luke led from box to beam in the final of the RPGTV All England Cup Final, trainer Pat Rosney was thrilled for a number of reasons.
It was the kennel’s first Cat 1 win since The Other Reg’s 2018 Scottish Derby. It was a great gamble landed, “I didn’t have much, but most of the kennel were on at 33s ante post. And they were still taking 14s on Wednesday morning”.
But more than any other reason, Pat was delighted for the dog’s owner and his best mate Tommy Smith.
The story of the race is simply told. Bower Luke cracked away in a 4.42 sectional. (Just reflect on that stat for a similar length of time. Ice On Fire’s best ever sectional is 4.44.)
As favourite Bramble Reggie (T2) was squeezed out of a run by linebackers in red and white jackets, a black 37.7kilo blur disappeared around the first bend.
Any fears that he would be gasping for oxygen off the last bend were momentary. The lead was big enough and the winning time of 28.23 demonstrated why. Only Ice On Fire (28.16) and Droopys Expert (28.10) have won the final in a faster time in the last seven years.
Pat said: “It was only his fourth race since he finished second to Ice On Fire in Laurels last year. We had our bit of luck in the first round when he virtually had to hurdle a dog to qualify.
“He improved for the semi final, though I was scratching my head a bit. I thought ‘he hasn’t run like a fully fit dog’ but I had trialled him at Perry Barr in 28.32 and had assumed he was.
“I accept it was a messy race but I think he was a good winner.”
The final could be the first leg of a remarkable double for owner Tommy Smith who also has Droopys Trawler running in the RPGTV Champion Hurdle Final at Central Park on Sunday.
According to Rosney fact that Tommy still owns the Seamus Cahill trained runner says much about his outlook on greyhound racing.
Tommy bought the dog from Andrew Wood following his victory in the 2018 William Hill Puppy Derby. Six races after joining Rosney, Trawler fought in the semi finals of the Eclipse and was disqualified.
Pat said: “Absolutely nobody saw that coming. We couldn’t believe it. We talked about what to do and I suggested that he send the dog to Seamus to see if he could jump. We knew he had tremendous ability though we were really looking at a staying career.”
Trawler has since developed into the one of the best hurdlers in training, though not necessarily the luckiest.
He finished runner-up in the 2019 Springbok, Champion Hurdle and Kent National Hurdle. Since then, he has been back running on the flat at Hove.
Pat said: “We were talking about Trawler when we were driving back from Newcastle. Tommy doesn’t have any regrets about buying the dog and thinks we were just unlucky on that occasion. Do the same thing 20 times, and the other 19 it will work out for you.
“He was offered £7,500 for the dog after the disqualification but decided not to sell. He also agreed to run the dog on the flat at Hove and take the consequences if anything went wrong. But that is just the kind of bloke Tommy is. In fact, for whatever reason, maybe it is to do with confidence, I think a spell on the flat has made him a more consistent hurdler.”
Outside of dog racing, the two friends go to Old Trafford together and with partners Julie and Claire, meet regularly for drinks and go on holiday together.
Smith runs a successful business in Manchester – Courtcraft – which specialises in wooden flooring, including squash and basketball court.
He has owned dogs with Rosney for more than a decade; the biggest nights previously came courtesy of Mileheight Alba who won the Sunderland Classic and Laurels.
Between them, the owner and trainer bred Puppy Classic runner-up Camp Joker out of Smith’s Oaks runner-up Rebellious Queen. Among the hard luck stories were Bower Stone who clocked 28.46 (480) in a winning debut at Nottingham and broke a hock after the line.
But one story sums Smith up better than any other. He had a leg in a runner in a major final trained by Rosney. The runner, who had been nursing a shoulder injury, led but was beaten.
Pat said: “One of the owners was poison, always causing disruption and after the final, started to stir the others up and wanted to take the dog to a different trainer.
“Tommy’s response was ‘No, Pat is my friend and my trainer. If you don’t like it, I’ll buy you out.’ That kind of loyalty is very rare in this game.
“So although Trawler is now with Seamus, both Julie and I would really love to see him complete the double for Tommy and Claire.”