Professional greyhound trainer Paul Donovan will be hoping home advantage counts when kennel star Asbo Lenny runs in the Premier Greyhound Racing Kent Derby final on Sunday.
Worth £20,000 to the winner, the Kent Derby is the fourth and final Category One fixture to be held at the Sittingbourne venue this year and represents the highest grade of UK greyhound racing.
Donovan’s talented two-year-old is the only greyhound of the six finalists to have qualified from Central Park’s strength of graded runners after the black dog entered the competition off the back of four successive wins – two in open company and a pair of A1 successes.
Despite this, the Hooley-based trainer admits his hope will need to run the race of his career to stand on the top step of the podium when he lines up from trap three.
Rivals include English Greyhound Derby finalist Romeo Command, Produce Stakes finalists King Ezra, track record holder and recent Premier Greyhound Racing St Leger champion Droopys Clue, Gold Cup runner-up Churchfield Syd and Hunt Cup champion Havana Lover.
“He (Asbo Lenny) is a great, honest, greyhound who gives his all every time he runs,” said Donovan. “Track knowledge will definitely work to his advantage, but this is a Category One final so there’ll be no room for error.
“He’s up against some of the most athletic greyhounds in the country who are proven at this level whereas for him this is new territory.
“At A1, he’s one of the strongest greyhounds to run around Central Park. But Sunday is a whole new level, and he has half-a-second to find on Droopys Clue who’s likely to go off favourite.
“He’s beaten some high-quality greyhounds just to get to this stage, so we’ll keep our fingers crossed for a good run.”
Victory would break new ground for Donovan, who has never won Kent’s premiere prize during his spell in the sport – which stretches back over three decades.
He now cares for 40 greyhounds and is supported by a team of three full-time staff and a string of part-time employees who share racing and care responsibilities.
He added: “Being a part of competitions like this is what every trainer dreams of.
“It’s seven days a week, 365 days a year – you’re totally committed to the greyhounds in your care and getting them to reach their true potential before retirement.”
Tickets for the 2023 Premier Greyhound Racing Kent Derby final are on sale now and available to purchase via the Central Park websites.
Adult tickets are available from £7 with U18s from £1. Race one is due off at 2.04pm with the Kent Derby scheduled for 4.43pm.
2023 Premier Greyhound Racing Kent Derby line-up:
Trap One – Romeo Command
Trap Two – King Ezra
Trap Three – Asbo Lenny
Trap Four – Droopys Clue
Trap Five – Churchfield Syd
Trap Six – Havana Lover