Stuart Buckland

I’ve known Stuart Buckland (pictured) for a long time. He took over the licence at Watford Gap Kennels from his father in 1989 and hasn’t looked back since. He trained initially at Monmore Green Stadium for twelve years before moving to Hall Green in Birmingham for a similar period. He was welcomed back to Monmore Green with open arms in advance of Hall Green’s closure and, until very recently, has been there ever since, recording the title of ‘top trainer’ many times at both venues.

Stuart has been assisted by an extremely professional and reliable team. He has relied heavily on assistant trainers Jooles Slater (pictured below, left) and Kate Wright (Harrison). With Monmore racing six times a week plus open race duties on top they have all been kept very busy as are the outstanding team of kennelstaff.

It was a ‘no-brainer’ to put the Club’s dogs with Stuart and the team in Staffordshire. Being ideally placed in the centre of the country is helpful but, much more importantly, he is unparalleled in my experience in caring for and recovering injured greyhounds. I have absolute confidence that all dogs in his kennel receive the best handling and care possible and the enthusiasm that the assistant trainers show on a daily basis, as is evident from the numerous kennel social media contributions, is infectious and heartening. No one does their job better than a professional who clearly enjoys every minute.

Or at least that is what we thought. Whilst he’s not exactly an old man like the writer, Stuart is getting on a bit and doesn’t enjoy the six day a week racing schedule at Monmore as much as he once did. Hall Green used to race three times a week and then added a lunchtime BAGS meeting but that is still a far cry from six racing days and having to get up early every day of the week! When you add in health issues and other factors it really isn’t that hard to see why he handed in his resignation at Monmore with effect from the end of March 2022. We will certainly miss him. For what it’s worth I suspect that he may miss the game after six months or so of partying and holidaying and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him back and interfering, especially if he continues to live next door!

For a short while we weren’t sure what the way forward would be but it was very pleasing to hear that former Assistant Trainer, Jooles Slater would take over the licence and the Monmore Green contract with effect from 1st April 2022. This enables the dogs to remain where they are and to continue to race where they’re used to. Jooles has had a large element of day to day control for a considerable time anyway and we are expecting the tranistion to be smooth and seemless as one would expect from these industry professionals. Best of luck Jooles!

We were so immensely proud that Jooles’ first winner as a trainer was none other than our Luigi – Supreme Odin. This was even more fitting as he is one of Stuart’s home breds and the first of the current crop of Noduff Racers. She and we weren’t finished there though. Fred – Noduff Aria and Jock – Noduff Excalibur went on to make it a treble for us and for Jooles. The following day we then made it five winners when Ridley – Noduff Hacienda and Wilson – Mustang Highway both obliged. As Jooles already knows, we can’t keep this up every day!

Sadly, Kate decided she also had to start afresh and has transferred to the kennels of Chris Fereday where we’re sure she will make a success of her working life and be just as great for the dogs in her care as she has been at Watford Gap.

Jooles is by no means out on her own however as she’s been joined from Ireland by Jason Mernor, a very experienced greyhound man himself who graces Twitter by the name @darciskennels. We think they will make a great team supported by the hard-working kennel staff.

You can see more about the kennels and the inmates on the Watford Gap website which was developed and is maintained by our friend and kennel stalwart, Emma Gray.

When Noduff Grand was disqualified out of the blue in an A2 at Monmore we had to choose between sending him back to Ireland for re-schooling or going down the long-established route of sending him hurdling. After much research we elected the latter course and decided that Jim Reynolds at Crayford was the best person to undertake his schooling and racing. It took a while for Jim to have a vacancy at Orchard Kennels (such is the demand for his services) but Wallace was transferred as soon as one came along. We know Wallace will be in good hands there and have our fingers crossed for his future over timber or otherwise.

Donna Coney is Jim and wife Sue’s daughter, she’s assistant trainer now and will take over the reins when Jim retires. Working with her on RPGTV it was very heartening to hear from her that Wallace is a ‘natural’ at hurdling and she is very pleased with his progress. We look forward to watching him at Crayford in due course.

Jim Reynolds