The greyhound industry has saluted an “explosive start” to the third BAGS/SIS Track Championship which got underway during the last week.
The first fixture was at Kinsley in West Yorkshire last weekend when the home track triumphed over Sunderland and defending champions Newcastle.
The £200,000 series then moved down the M1 to Sheffield on Tuesday, when yet again the host outfit took the honours, beating off the challenge of Nottingham and Belle Vue.
Scott Harvey, race programme controller, BAGS, said: “It really has been an explosive start to the Track Championship with a few surprises thrown in.
“Kinsley seized the day at their home leg last Sunday and will now travel to Newcastle on Saturday, 9th November with a 17-point advantage.”
Kinsley racing manager Andy Mascarenhas was delighted with his team’s performance, but Newcastle’s Ian Walton will be looking to even the scores. Clearly, home advantage can make a difference and they will go off strongly as odds-on favourites to take revenge over Kinsley.
Harvey added that the fact that there are more qualifying races this year allows the chasing pack to close the gap.
“So Newcastle will be biting at Kinsley’s heels from the outset,” he added. “They have great strength this year and should do well on the day. Things didn’t necessarily go to plan for Sunderland at Kinsley and Micky Patterson will be hoping for more luck for his team next time.”
If anything, the second fixture proved even more exciting. Harvey said: “If you wanted to see the level of interest this competition generates you only had to walk round Sheffield Stadium on Tuesday night. It was buzzing and the restaurant was at capacity with locals and visitors from Nottingham and Manchester.
“SIS commentator Errol Blyth beavered away getting in-depth interviews with trainers and racing managers, keeping the punters in the shops fully switched on and up to date with all the action.”
Blyth will be doing another live broadcast from Hall Green on Monday, when Group C gets underway. Harvey said: “Monmore and Perry Barr are ready and the gloves are well and truly off.”
The BAGS/SIS Track Championship has earned its place as a prestigious fixture in the greyhound calendar and as a significant betting series to keep punters interested all the way to Christmas.
The first two runnings of the series, which features all 17 BAGS tracks, won the support of every section of the sport – with increased attendances, full backing from owners and trainers, and lively activity through betting-shop tills, all leading to BAGS committing to this year’s series.
It is also the latest initiative on which BAGS and SIS have worked together, following the previous two championships, the Easter Eggstravaganza and the Sky Sports coverage which SIS produced for the first time this year.
SIS was announced as joint sponsor of the event at the start of this month and will also exclusively broadcast every race into LBOs, right through to the finals day at Sheffield on Monday, 23rd December – when there is no UK horse racing.
Groups (with dates of matches):
A - Newcastle (Nov 9), Sunderland (Nov 19)
B - Nottingham (Nov 11), Belle Vue (Dec 4)
C - Hall Green (Oct 28), Monmore (Nov 22), Perry Barr (Dec 1)
D - Romford (Oct 31), Sittingbourne (Nov 14), Crayford (Nov 28)
E - Hove (Nov 6), Poole (Nov 23), Swindon (Dec 6)
F - Yarmouth (Nov 4), Peterborough (Nov 15), Yarmouth (Nov 25)