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    Magical Bluebear Claims Historic Victory in ARC Kent Silver Salver
Magical Bluebear Claims Historic Victory in ARC Kent Silver Salver
Man with a greyhound. Source: Midjourney

Magical Bluebear Claims Historic Victory in ARC Kent Silver Salver

Perry Barr trainer Bill Russell, at 93 years old, achieved a remarkable milestone in his career as Magical Bluebear delivered a thrilling performance to secure the Arena Racing Company (ARC) Kent Silver Salver at Central Park. This victory marked not only the first major success for the Russell family but also their debut with a Category One finalist, solidifying their place among this year's breakout trainers in greyhound racing.

In a season characterised by first-time Category One winners, Magical Bluebear entered the final as a 2-1 contender alongside the fast-trapping My Lennie (15-8F). Bred by Patrick Guilfoyle, this June 2022 son of Good News and Magical Gem quickly asserted himself in the race, challenging My Lennie from the start. By the second bend, Magical Bluebear had surged ahead, maintaining his lead to clinch victory by a length and three-quarters in a speedy 16.24 seconds over the 277-meter distance, marking the fastest time in the competition.

The win was particularly noteworthy for breeding enthusiasts, given that Magical Gem, the dam of Magical Bluebear, is a daughter of the renowned Forest Natalee, known for producing exceptional greyhounds. This achievement brought immense joy to Mark Russell, Bill's son, who together with his daughter Emily, accepted the trophy on behalf of owners Karen and Gary Phillips, who followed the race online.

Reflecting on the victory, Mark Russell shared, "It was a dream come true for us all on Saturday. Dad has been training dogs for over 50 years, and as a family, we have great memories of racing dogs around various tracks. He turned 93 last October, so although he's wound down on training now, I've always wanted to keep the license in his name."

The Russell family operates a small, family-run kennel based in Telford, Shropshire, with Mark, his wife Lesley, daughter Emily, and occasionally son Will, all playing active roles in the day-to-day operations. They are supported by three part-time kennel hands who contribute tirelessly to the care and training of the dogs.

"We're very much a small, family-run kennel," Mark continued. "We're delighted for his owners Garry and Karen, who unfortunately couldn’t make it in person. They were thrilled and excited to make the final, so winning was the cherry on top."

Emily Russell, Bill's granddaughter, added her sentiments, "He's not aware I'm doing this, but I'd like to give dad a special mention. Like many other trainers up and down the country, he has dedicated his life to training greyhounds, but a Category One win like this makes the extremely long hours worth it."

"Bluebear is a special dog to have in the kennel. He clocked 16.10 seconds in his second-ever trial for us at Perry Barr, and that's when we knew he was special. He's now won five out of nine races at five different tracks, and we're excited to see what the future has in store for him."

The victory also underscored the enduring passion and dedication of greyhound racing enthusiasts across generations. The Russell family's journey through the greyhound racing circuits has spanned decades, with memorable experiences at tracks like Willenhall, Monmore, Norton Canes, and Hall Green, all contributing to their profound love for the sport.

Bill Russell, despite his age, still enjoys visiting Perry Barr when possible and watching the races from home. The family expressed gratitude to Central Park for their hospitality and well-maintained track conditions, as well as to ARC for sponsoring the event.

Looking ahead, the plan for Magical Bluebear was originally to transition gradually to four-bend races. However, his impressive sprint performances have prompted the family to continue focusing on shorter distances for the time being.

"This is their biggest win since being connected to the very successful Magical Bale," Mark added. "We got the dog from the Guilfoyles, who have been close family friends since Ms Firecracker won the Irish Oaks in 2007, a night never to be forgotten. Our friend Tom Ace sourced the dog from Pat for Garry and Karen."

In conclusion, this victory marks a significant milestone for the Russell family and their kennel, highlighting their dedication and passion for greyhound racing. It's a testament to the enduring appeal of the sport and the joy it brings to both participants and spectators alike.

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