As winter approaches and the nights seemingly get colder and colder, greyhound racing can be a great way to lighten up those dark evenings before the festive period really gets going. Although it may lack the popularity it once garnered, there is still a plethora of top greyhound stadiums, situated mainly in the Midlands, which provide a great setting for an evening of entertainment.
Most of the big races have been ran for this season, but with some crucial days still left on the calendar, there is plenty of prize money left to compete for. With that said, there is still time to acknowledge the work that trainers have done already this season and credit them for the work they have put in to either continue their period of domination at the top, or to upset those that bet on greyhounds and cause a shock win which can significantly boost their rankings. Read on, as we discuss the best greyhound trainers of 2021 so far.
A stalwart in the greyhound racing game, Mark Wallis is one of the best trainers around. Despite not winning Trainer of the Year since 2018, he is a figure of consistency, having had an involvement in the sport for the last 30 years — winning the English Greyhound Derby twice, with Kinda Ready in 2009 and Blonde Snapper in 2012. With one of the best win percentages of any trainer, averaging at 19%, he already boasts his fair share of victories at Henlow and Towcester, with plenty left to go for heading into the latter stages of the year and into next season, where he will surely have one eye on another Derby victory, having not even made the top six this year.
Leading the way for total prize money for the year is Patrick Janssens. Following victory in the English Greyhound Derby with Thorn Falcon, the Belgian soared the rankings after a number of impressive victories and years of consistency — a reward for all of his hard work in recent times. Having been named the GBGB Trainer of the Year in 2020, victory in Towcester for the first Derby there since 2018 would have been all the sweeter having beaten reigning champion Deerjet Sydney, who had won seven out of his last 10 races heading into the sport’s showpiece event. Only time will tell if Janssens can defend his title.
It came as something of a surprise when Susie Sapphire took home the Irish Greyhound Derby back in the summer. With the sun setting on a cool evening at Shelbourne Park, and coronavirus restrictions seemingly a thing of the past, supporters were on hand to provide plenty of support as Owen McKenna took home the top prize. Having finished sixth the year before with Pestana, certainly flattening to deceive, McKenna proved any of his doubters wrong after a strong performance 12 months later as his bitch finished with a strong time of 29 seconds — slightly better than last year’s winner Newinn Taylor.
McKenna came to Ireland 20 years ago with very little experience, so it is poignant that he picked up his biggest achievement so close to the anniversary of his move.