On the 10th of October, Sheffield hosted the Semi-Finals of the annual Steel City Cup. This week it went a lot smoother than the heats, with all races off at the scheduled times. The crowds were much better this year, with the downstairs bar and upstairs restaurant almost full. The atmosphere was great, with general racegoers and owners alike passionately cheering on the dogs. Overall it was a fantastic evening with some great supporting races.
Below is a small summary of each Semi-Final, with videos of each. There is also the trap draw for the final (takes place on the 17/10/23) and information on the human handicap!
The first Semi-Final may have been the slowest of the 3, but it definitely kept everyone on their toes! Only 5 dogs ran, with Wicky Hicker being withdrawn lame. The first bend was full of problems, with the 5/6F Brookside Richie (Trap 2) and Fearmore Delboy losing their footing completely. Swift Iconic in trap 4 was another dog who found trouble on the first bend, suffering a few bumps, which allowed the winner, Acomb Felix, (Trap 1) to take the lead. Swift Iconic did however come back to try and redeem his winning position up on the line, but there just was no beating Acomb Felix. The Sheffield trained Distant Hugo (Trap 6) ran extremely well throughout, running particularly strongly on the back straight and third bend. He missed out on a spot in the final by 2 1/2 lengths.
1st: Trap 1, Acomb Felix (29.11), Owned by Mr.K.J.Ferguson. Trained by Kevin Ferguson (Kinsley)
2nd: Trap 4, Swift Iconic (29.13), Owned by Mr.C.J.Waters Trained by John Mullins (Yarmouth/Towcester)
What a fantastic Semi-Final this was! Hutton trained Rioja Joey (Trap 4) won from the traps, showing blistering early pace! He was only 15 spots off the current track record (28.27), which has been held by Domino Storm since 2016! The 4/5 favourite Coolavanny Shado was up with the traps, but soon caught up on the back straight. Rioja Joey was unbeatable again though, winning by 2 lengths. Trap 1, Droopys Doughnut, showed some great strength coming into the third and forth bend allowing him to finish in third.
1st: Trap 4, Rioja Joey (28.42), Owned by Mr P.A.Woodburn Trained by Kevin Hutton (Oxford)
2nd: Trap 2 Coolavanny Shado (28.58), Owned by Patrick Janssens Racing. Trained by Patrick Janssens (Towcester)
The final Semi-Final was another race with a messy first bend. Trouble on this bend saw traps 5, 3 and 1 collide briefly, however this allowed trap 2, Marlfield Diaz the clear run he needed to secure a place in next week’s final. The 10/1 shot, Marlfield Diaz showed some great early pace, with a 4.25 split time, allowing him to avoid the trouble, but he also ran strongly throughout. This is only his 7th UK run, so far he’s proving to be something special! One Day Tom made a valiant effort throughout to try to catch Diaz but was unable to do so, with Diaz winning by a length. Acomb Irene, the 13/8 favourite in Trap 5, was one of the dogs caught in the aforementioned first bend trouble, she recovered the best of the group however, finishing in third, 6 lengths off the winner.
1st: Trap 2, Marlfield Diaz (28.88), Owned by Mr.I.E.Farrow, Mr.M.Martindale + Mr.W.Scott Trained by Tom Heilbron (Newcastle)
2nd: Trap 4, One Day Tom (28.97), Owned by Mr.N.Kellett Trained by Jason Gray (Nottingham)
Final Trap Draw
The final looks to be extremely interesting. The 8k prize money could go to anyone; the first bend may be the deciding factor however. Only Coolavanny Shado got their ideal draw, trap 2, which could help him out significantly especially if the first bend becomes messy. Rioja Joey features in trap 6 in the final, but with the amount of early pace and the quickest time of the bunch (4.16 sectional, win time 28.52), he may soon become the leader. The only question is; Will he maintain the lead? Marlfield Diaz in trap 1 and Swift Iconic, the slowest of the finalists timewise, in trap 3, and One Day tom in trap 5, may be late contenders, with a chance of catching the leader up on the line. Acomb Felix may struggle coming out of trap 4, however he has won from this position before at Owlerton (26/19/23) so anything could happen!
No matter the result, having a dog in a Cat 1 final is such a fantastic achievement. Good luck to all connections!
All odds correct as of 11/10/23 and are from the sponsor of the Steel City Cup, BresBet.
T1: 6/1 T2: 13/8 T3: 5/1 T4: 10/1 T5: 12/1 T6: 5/2
Alongside the Final, Owlerton are hosting a human handicap race over the 500m distance. 6 runners, some of which many who you may recognise, take to the track after racing to raise money for the hounds in the Sheffield Retired Greyhound Trust. Races like this have taken place numerous times, with the most recent one being at Nottingham in 2018 with Mark Pierrepont proving triumphant. The form can be seen below (subject to change as more lines of form are added). Anyone who wants to donate can do so on the GoFundMe page linked here: https://www.gofundme.com/f/the-sheffield-retired-greyhounds-rcn-1204143
In trap 1, Rob Crawford runs from the 660 boxes (R280) Rob is commonly seen commentating at greyhound tracks all over for Sky Sports Racing. Trap 2 sees RPGTV presenter/commentator and ‘Gone To The Dogs’ podcast host Dani Jackson running from the 280m sprint boxes (R220).Greyhound Owner, Billy Brennan, runs from trap 3 on the Second Bend (R180). Then on the First bend, Connor Davy runs (R80). Connor is the youngest runner of the bunch and regularly seen parading dogs from local trainer, and his dad, Sean Davy’s kennel. At current, all 4 runner’s form seems quite bare, with Rob commentating, Dani eating cake, Billy seen at the football, darts and pub recently and Connor having no real lines of form currently, although he does go to the gym regularly which may put him at an advantage. Unlike the rest, the final 2 runners however have been getting training done on the track! The venue director and Sheffield RGT trustee Matt Hamilton runs from Trap 5, positioned at the 480 traps (R20). Then last but not least, Race Manager Andrew Mascarenhas runs from the 500m boxes (SCR). Andrew has completed numerous marathons in the past however he has been retired from it quite a few years.
Well done to all 6 for stepping up for this race and to Rose Draper for organising it! Again, if anyone would like to donate you can do so on the GoFundMe linked here: https://www.gofundme.com/f/the-sheffield-retired-greyhounds-rcn-1204143 . At the time of writing the page is just over half way to the £5000 target! A wonderful achievement already.