Three professional greyhound trainers based in the north-east have high hopes of landing Sunderland Stadium’s premier competition on Friday, which is worth £12,500 to the winner.
Tom Heilbron, Savva Roberts and Harry Burton are all represented by at least one runner in the Arena Racing Company Classic Grand Final at the Newcastle Road venue.
It follows a two-stage qualifying process during which the competition’s initial entry of 36 greyhounds has been reduced to six with Friday’s 450m final – expected to last less than 27 seconds – crowning the 2023 champion.
Roberts and Burton are yet to land a Category One competition this year – the highest grade of UK greyhound racing.
But for Trimdon-based Heilbron, victory on Friday would contribute to a memorable campaign having already won the Northern Puppy Derby, Pall Mall and Gold Cup with kennel star Links Maverick.
The 32-year-old is one of the youngest professional trainers in the country and said winning his local competition with finalists Links Dasher would serve as a reward for the around-the-clock commitment of his hard-working team.
“He (Links Dasher) has been a great greyhound ever since he arrived at the kennel,” said Tom. “He’s starting to come back to form and I believe he’s capable of a run even quicker than his semi final performance last week.
“The key is making the start. He needs to be in front to stand a chance of winning, so everything rests on the break. As a kennel, we’ve exceeded all expectations this year so anything else really would be a bonus.
“But we’re ambitious so remain hopeful of a good run-on Friday.”
Links Dasher is Tom’s sole representative in Friday’s ARC Classic final after kennelmate Magical Rubble exited at the semi final stage while Links Maverick and Fearsome Enigma placed fourth and fifth respectively in their Round One qualifiers.
Savva Roberts meanwhile is represented by Pape Di Oro, a new arrival to the north-east having started his career in Ireland, while Harry Burton runs March On Larry and Jonny Whiskers – the latter of whom is unbeaten in the competition to date.
Tickets and restaurant and trackside packages for the 2023 Arena Racing Company Classic Grand Final on Friday evening are on sale via the Sunderland Greyhound Stadium website from £7. U18s tickets are priced £1. Doors open at 5.45pm with the first of 12 races on the night off at 6.26pm.
Children’s charity Love, Amelia will be in attendance on the night too, raising funds and awareness of its work to support families in the north-east living in poverty.
The Classic Final is due off at 8.52pm.
2023 Arena Racing Company Classic:
Trap One – Swift Iconic
Trap Two – Links Dasher
Trap Three – Pape Di Oro
Trap Four – Keefill George
Trap Five – March on Larry
Trap Six – Jonny Whiskers