THE Thames Silver Silver, as it was known originally, is one of greyhound racing’s oldest races - its history stretching back to Southend in 1933.
It was staged in Essex until Southend’s closure in 1985, and then switched venues - and counties - being revived by Canterbury in 1988 after a break of two years. It was first hosted by Central Park in 2002 and has become the Kent Silver Salver.
The competition is traditionally known as a sprinters’ event, but actually started out as a 500yds contest at Southend. One of its most famous winners was back-to-back champion Border Mutton for legendary Wimbledon handler Paddy McEllistrim.
Border Mutton was known as one of the most versatile greyhounds ever, with wins over a variety of distances - he was even an accomplished hurdler! - so no doubt would have later coped when the Silver Salver became a sprint in 1953.
Before then, Priceless Border had won a Silver Salver for Leslie Reynolds in 1947. He won the Derby at White City the following year to secure his place in canine immortality, although is not the only Derby hero to grace this particular roll of honour.
The record books tell how in 1976 Derby winner Mutts Silver’s connections were paid £1,000 ‘appearance’ money to contest the Silver Salver after his White City triumph - and the Phil Rees Snr-trained star did not disappoint as he set a track record in the final.
By that stage, the Silver Salver was a two-bend race and considered the most important sprint event in the old NGRC Calendar. The traditional old sprinters’ Classic was then staged over a short four bends at Slough and later Catford.
The Silver Salver was kept to two bends until switched to four bends (450m) in 2007 when Greenacre Josh struck for Norah McEllistrim, thus almost bringing the event full circle given Norah’s father Paddy won the event back in the 1930s - twice.
Norah matched that feat when following up with Kizi in 2013, and this year two trainers - Dan Brabon (Good Start) and Barry O’Sullivan (Teddybear Pops) - will attempt to emulate family success and match the success of their respective fathers.
Graham Brabon struck with Thank You Brabon in 2004, while some 30 years earlier Terry O’Sullivan had guided An Toileanagh (1972) to Silver Salver glory at Southend over the competitions’s traditional two-bend sprint trip
Last year’s competition was run over 450m and one of the competition’s best winners of recent years proved undoubtedly Clondoty Alex, trained by Mark Wallis. He had previously won the Yarmouth Derby and went on to win the Golden Sprint at Romford.
The 2018 Kent Silver Salver has reverted to its traditional two-bend distance with 36 sprinters going to traps for the 265m heats. Heading in the £3,000 final, Roxholme Hat has proven fastest with his 16.41sec semi-final victory.
Final, Central Park - Friday, March 30 - £3,000 to the winner
Owners: To Tone Syndicate - Trainer: Martyn Wiley, Romford
A regular A1 racer at home track Romford, connections were delighted to have drawn trap one for the final - his favourite box. Won his heat wearing the red jacket and a fast break gives this 13-time winner a chance to shine against the inside rail. Romford trainer Wiley has enjoyed his visits to Kent in the last year - kennel star Mayshighlandreel winning the Gold Collar at Crayford last year. She is due back on track in a month or so.
Owners: Daniel Brabon - Trainer: Daniel Brabon
A local champion over two bends, he arrives for tonight’s Silver Salver final one of two unbeaten runners in the £3,000 final. A powerful runner over this distance - he has won over 480m too - Good Start has racked up 18 wins, all here at Central Park. Victory for the oldest runner in the race could be returning the Silver Salver to the family, given Daniel’s father Graham won this competition in 2004 with Thank You Madam.
Owner: Karl Brazier - Trainer: Barry O’Sullivan, Crayford
Made his UK debut at Crayford in September and has six wins on the card from 20 starts with a rise up the graded ranks over 380m from A4 to A1 underlining his progress. Sent open racing at Henlow and now Central Park, and dropped in distance, his smart trapping paved the way for success in a prep race and in his heat. Crayford last supplied the Silver Salver winner courtesy of the Dink Luckhurst-trained Mals Pal in 1988 when the event was staged at Canterbury.
Owner: Ben McBride - Trainer: Tony Collett
A lightly-raced sort in the UK and therefore remains open to improvement. Qualified behind Good Start from the semi-finals, so has achieved the desire of owner Ben McBride, the Swindon trainer, who sent the son of Tullymurry Act to Tony Collett’s Kent kennels with the Silver Salver in mind - Collet as won the event twice. Now lines up in the final looking to register a fourth win having won warmed up for the competitions with three top-grade D1 sprint wins over C&D.
Owner: Mick Gollogly - Trainer: David Mullins, Romford
Boasts a cracking overall strike-rate with nine wins from 21 starts and has travelled well with wins at Nottingham, as well as here in the semis last week. Clearly always well regarded and classy given made his debut in A1 company at home track Romford in November. Subsequently an open-race winner over 400m, he shortly afterwards reverted to sprints - winning a series of two-bend events at Romford before landing heat and final of a competition at Nottingham.
Owners: Martin Green, Hayley Keightley, Duncan Lambie - Trainer: Hayley Keightley, Doncaster
The reigning GBGB Sprinter of the Year, Roxholme Hat is eyeing success in another of the sport’s great traditional prizes given his victory in the Scurry Cup at Belle Vue, which included a track-record run during the event. Yet to taste defeat here, a runaway semi-final win sees the Keightley runner start favourite for the final. A great strike-rate of 15 wins from 24 starts also included a runner-up spot in the Festival Flyer at Sunderland last summer.
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