Nathan Hunt is one of the leading greyhound trainers in Britain. In his latest exclusive oddschecker column, he discusses Friday’s opening heats of the Coral Puppy Cup in which he runs the exciting Our Boy Seamus. He also talks about the development of the Nathan Hunt Racing Club, with the syndicate’s first runner Ballyard Ricki winning impressively on Sunday - a sign they could develop into a Greyhound Derby hope.

Ballyard Ricki is the first dog owned by the Nathan Hunt Racing Club - We are hopeful he could be a dog for the Greyhound Derby.

Obviously because I have only recently started my training career, I wanted to get some good dogs to put us on the map. It is hard to get high-class dogs at the start, because I would not have lots of owners who are prepared to pay that sort of money.

I spoke to one of my owners Pat Huckle and he spotted a dog in Ireland called Ballyard Ricki. I spotted the dog as well and we liked him. Originally, he was going to maybe buy a 50% share in the dog, but we decided instead to try and ask a few of the owners in the kennels if they would be interested in getting a syndicate together. We had a really good response to this and all the available shares got sold quickly.

Everyone has 10% in the dog. It is not too many people as I wouldn't want too many people in the syndicate, but 10 is a nice number. Pat and another member of the syndicate Rob Howe run the syndicate for me so I don’t have to do too much. It's great having a strong group of owners behind you. 

Ballyard Ricki is the first dog we bought for the syndicate. We just wanted to wait and see how he got on first. You obviously always want the first one to be a success so it gains more interest. Hopefully, he can keep improving and then we can maybe look for another dog for the syndicate which could run on a Friday night.

Syndicates are common in greyhound racing, especially at places like Romford. We’ve got smaller syndicates with three or four people, but we’ve never had a syndicate of this size for the kennel. During lockdown, I put a few feelers out and we had a lot of interest. It's amazing to own your own racer but it can be even better to do it as part of a group or with a bunch of friends.

Ballyard Ricki was very impressive at Central Park on Sunday. He didn’t trap very well in the race. He was slow away, but then showed a great burst of early pace to take the lead at the first bend. He returns to Central Park again this weekend and we are hopeful that he could be a dog for the Greyhound Derby.

We have two runners in the Puppy Cup heats at Romford on Friday and I wouldn’t swap Our Boy Seamus for anything

6:28: Romford (Friday): Our Boy Seamus

Our Boy Seamus ran very well in a trial stakes two weeks ago. It looks like he is starting to put it all together. I trialled him yesterday to give him a blow-out ready for Friday. He trapped really well again which was good. The track was running slow yesterday, but he still ran in a good time. We are happy going into Friday. He’s got trap six again which we’re really pleased with. We think he is a dog that definitely runs better out of that trap. It’s not a bad heat, there’s a couple of decent dogs in there. It is not a gimmie so he will have to produce a good break again to qualify, but we are hopeful. He will be in the top three in the betting. You can get surprises in puppy races, but he has plenty of experience and we’re hoping those runs in A1s will help him. He is maturing all the time - he looks like he is starting to put it all together and I wouldn’t swap him for anything else.

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7:36: Romford (Friday): Borna Buck

Borna Buck trialled nicely earlier this month. We then wanted to get more experience into him, but we couldn’t find a spot for him in a lesser grade, so he ended up running in two A2 races. He therefore went in at the deep end and his trapping needs to improve by a couple of lengths out the boxes. He is still very green, but he clearly has plenty of ability. He has bred out of a six-bend dog, so I’m sure that could be a plan at some point to step him up in trip. However, with lockdown, Romford were short of pups for the competition because there haven’t been many races so it has been tricky for people to buy pups. So they asked me if Borna Buck could run in the competitions and the owners are very sporting so we’re looking forward to seeing how he gets on. It will be an experience for him and the more times he is on track, the better. I’m not saying he is going to qualify, but he is in there for the experience. When he is stepped up in distance, he will be an even better dog. 

We enjoyed two winners at Central Park on Sunday. As mentioned before, Ballyard Ricki will return there on Sunday. He will run in a Standard race, whilst Dower Tyson who also won last week will also run. He will run in a 480m or 500m race. The plan for Dower Tyson after that is to run in a competition called the Three Steps To Victory at Sheffield in a couple of weeks. Him and Ridgedale Max will go for that competition. You run over 480m in the first round, 500m in the second and the final is over 660m so it is a quite unique competition. Dower Tyson is in good form and hopefully he can run well again on Sunday before we head to Sheffield in a couple of weeks where I think that competition will really suit him.