...Derby rescheduled to avoid clash with British Grand Prix...
BY JONATHAN KAY OF THE RACING POST
THE Derby has a new schedule for the second time in four days after host track Towcester yesterday reacted to criticism of a potential clash with the British Grand Prix festival at neighbouring Silverstone.
As a result, GBGB permission was sought, and received, to bring the competition forward by a week, meaning it will now conclude with a £175,000 final on Saturday, July 10, with a start on the weekend of June 4 and 5.
"I was pushing for the final to be on July 17 so I take full responsibility," admitted Towcester's consultant Nathan Corden yesterday.
"Our main focus had been on the gap between the English Derby/Irish Derby and maintaining that, but we are more than happy to listen to feedback.
"Over the weekend we became aware of the difficulties people were having in booking accommodation because of the Grand Prix also being scheduled for that weekend and we've acted quickly to hopefully rectify that.
"The British Grand Prix was actually in August last year, but that was a Covid-delayed scheduled and, while this year's date remains provisional, it seems pretty certain that it is going to be on Sunday, July 18.
"We're grateful to the GBGB for listening to our request and being understanding and flexible in agreeing to another change to the schedule but this definitely the last one we intend to make!"
Towcester promoter Kevin Boothby is to proceed with the Blue Riband, even though the three meetings will not be broadcast into the betting shops or on Racing Post TV.
The 36 runner event takes place on three consecutive Saturdays with the first round on Saturday January 23. The 500m Cat One event is worth £7,500 to the winner.
Among the dogs who have recently trialled at the track are Kilara Lion, Bockos Doomie and Signet Ace.
Boothby said: “We have no sponsor, no crowd and no betting shop interest, but I am determined that it should take place. There is a principle at stake.
“We will be re-launching Towcester TV, headed by Steve Katz, and will provide a full night’s racing. We will be charging £5 for the service.
“I am fully expecting that the event will cost me a significant sum of money to stage, but this is a chance for the people who really believe in top class racing to put their money with their mouth is for the sake of a fiver.
“You choose, The Blue Riband for a fiver, or a Crayford graded card on RPGTV for free.”
Trainer John Mullins said: “I am 100% behind what Kevin is trying to achieve and will support him in any way.
“Is there any way that they could introduce entry fees? I would have no problem with it. It would reduce his liability and cut out some of those just making up the numbers.”
Boothby has confirmed that the Towcester website will be taking bookings for Derby restaurant packages and accommodation reservations for the on-site pods from next Wednesday.
Brendan Keogh, multi time Owner of the Year award winner through the KSS Syndicate, was among the first to back Kevin Boothby following his decision to stage the Blue Riband without crowds, sponsor or a bookmaker broadcast deal.
Rab McNair said: “I mentioned to Brendan what Kevin was trying to do and he immediately said that we shouldn’t be accepting any prize money from the heats. We hope to have two runners, King Axle and Queen Dolly.
“Personally, I think Kevin could have gone stronger and charged entry fees. But it is really important what he is trying to achieve.”
Andy Pelley, known for his Goldies prefix said: “We hope to have one runner and I wouldn’t dream of taking any prize money. It is important that we stand by Kevin and high quality open racing.”
Owner Mark Burridge said: “Our only potential runner, Mister Brentford, is currently resting, but we will be supporting Towcester during the year. I will be watching the meeting on Towcester TV. In fact, I would pay for 50 people to watch the meeting.
“I feel so strongly about this that I would like to donate trophies throughout the competition, including one for the winner of the final.”
Star Sports have confirmed that they will be betting
on the forthcoming Blue Riband at Towcester.
With no betting shop or TV coverage, there will be no industry odds available which might have resulted in there being no betting opportunities for connections.
Promoter Kevin Boothby said: “I have spoken to Ben Keith and he has confirmed that Star Sports will be laying individual heats as well as producing an ante post book.”
In addition to the runners who have already trialled for the event, this weekend/Monday trial cards include: Tenpin, Kilara Icon, Newinn Jacko, Volcanic Reef, Antigua Bruiser, Faughan Rebel, Sharp Darcy and Troy Firebird.
The track have also rejected the offer from a number of owners to forego any prize money, as reported yesterday.
Kevin Boothby says “I have been bowled over my the calls and texts I have received from owners showing their support for Towcester by offering not to take the heat prize money. There is no chance of that happening though – they pay good money for their dogs and should receive all prize money.”
Towcester plan to stream the heats and the semi-finals of their Category 1 Blue Riband on Saturday 23rd 30 January via Towcester TV with viewers able to subscribe for £5.00 per night.
“We have no media contract currently in place for these Saturday nights so we are going to give it a go. We have all the infrastructure in place to trial this for the 23rd and 30th and as for the final, we will wait to make a decision on that once we know the new RPGTV schedule.
“It is our intention to hold top class open racing every Saturday night and I’ve bought in Nathan Corden to help with that side of things. It’s clear he loves his open racing and has already got a few sponsors lined up, so if there are any other sponsors out there who are interested in coming on board then they can contact Nathan via firstname.lastname@example.org and help make Towcester the home of open racing in the UK.”