Jonny Whiskers raised the roof when landing the 2023 Arena Racing Company Classic at a packed Sunderland Greyhound Stadium on Friday evening.
Harry Burton’s black and white greyhound had never entered a Category One competition – the highest level of UK greyhound racing - prior to the start of Sunderland’s premier event.
But he more than made up for his lack of experience by winning the £12,500 race by one-and-one-quarter lengths from the Savva Roberts trained Pape Di Oro and Burton’s second runner March On Larry.
It was Jonny Whiskers’ third victory in as many runs at the Newcastle Road venue, and he was cheered on by an army of supporters who made the short journey from Tyneside.
“We’ve always wanted to win the Classic,” said Harry. “We managed to win the Puppy Cup with Ballybough Mags earlier this year – this result is the icing on the cake.
“It’s been an incredible year for the team, and it was a fantastic run from trap six too – we can’t quite believe we’ve won.
“This was our cup final. He’s developed so well to reach this level, and everyone connected is over the moon. It will take a while to sink in for sure!”
Race favourite Swift Iconic, who travelled up from Ipswich with trainer John Mullins to take part, ran on well to place fourth after missing the break while Keefill George and Links Dasher placed fifth and sixth respectively.
Greyhound racing returns to Sunderland Stadium on Sunday morning with the first race due off at 11.06am. General admission tickets and restaurant packages are available to book online.
Afternoon fixtures will also be held on Tuesday and Thursday – first race 2.04pm – with Friday night racing starting at 6.26pm.