A couple of 26 years who dedicate every day to training racing greyhounds say it would complete their lives to win one of Sunderland’s most prestigious competitions this month.
Jill Sutherst and Glenn Lynas spend 365 days each year caring for 40 racing greyhounds and 20 future stars of the sport with help from a team of backroom staff.
Despite a combined 80 years in greyhound racing between them, the couple have never won a Category One competition – the highest grade of UK greyhound racing.
But that could be about to change when they run Witton Venus and Witton Supremo in the opening round of the Arena Racing Company Classic at Sunderland Greyhound Stadium on Friday, November 3.
The £12,500 competition is open to 36 of the country’s fastest greyhounds and held over three successive Friday evenings with the Grand Final scheduled for Friday, November 17.
Glenn, now 68, said a Category One victory is the one piece missing from his life – 50 years of which have been committed to breeding, training and caring for greyhounds.
“It’s my life,” said Glenn. “Greyhound racing is all I’ve ever known, there are no days off or holidays as a trainer – you’re totally committed to your greyhounds.
“We’re not getting any younger, and we’d dearly love to win our local competition. We know there’ll be racegoers on the terraces who would love to see the same, but a sob-story wins no prizes in this sport and we’re up against some seriously talented competition.”
After trying his luck with pigeon racing in the 1960s, Glenn turned to greyhound racing when his brothers purchased a dog while he was a teenager - and he hasn’t looked back since.
He would spend seven days each week trackside in his 20s and his enthusiasm for the sport remains just as strong today.
And Friday could be the start of a new journey some 18,000 days after Glenn first watched a greyhound race when Witton Venus runs in Heat Five with Witton Supremo down to run in Heat Six. To qualify for the Semi Finals, each greyhound must place in the first three of their respective races.
Glenn added: “We’re hopeful. Venus has been trialling well recently and she has a nice draw on Friday.
“If she starts like we know she can, there’s no reason why she can’t qualify. Supremo is on a roll having won her last three races, but she has a tough draw.
“We’ll need some luck because I genuinely believe any of the six greyhounds qualifying heat can win the race. Regardless, we have two runners in our local competition which is excellent, and we’re excited to get going!”
Round One of the Arena Racing Company Classic at Sunderland Greyhound Stadium will take place on Friday, November 3, and tickets are available to purchase from £7 via www.sunderland-greyhounds.co.uk.
Race one is due off at 6.26pm with the first of six Classic qualifying heats scheduled for 6.59pm. Other notable greyhounds confirmed to run in the competition are Pall Mall and Gold Cup champion Links Maverick and British Bred Puppy Cup champion Watchall Sid.
Heat One: Swift Iconic,Laughil Flash, Maglass Sid, Keefill George, Inniskeel Josie, Watchhall Sid.
Heat Two: Links Dasher, Tonelagee, Bluejig Hank, Droopys Trouper, Magical Rubble, Annadown Cuddles.
Heat Three: Droopys Soldier, Tell Boy, Paisley Pearl, Cashbale Lulu, Swift Silly, Trouble Shooter.
Heat Four: Pape Di Oro, Links Maverick, March On Frankie, Romeo Expo, Jonny Whiskers, Sober Panther.
Heat Five: Kitty The Step, Riverside Lisa, TakinItAllIn, Witton Venus, Magical Camilla, YouMeAnIrene.
Heat Six: Whisky Champ, The Bulldog, Stormy News, Fearsome Enigma, March On Larry, Witton Supremo.