Two brothers who quit their shopfitting careers to become professional greyhound trainers could win their first Category One competition at Central Park Stadium on Saturday night.
Chris and Phil Hamblin transformed their warehouse near Reading from a fitting unit into purpose-built kennels complete with paddock space, a swimming pool, kitchen and a racing office.
Two years on from their career change, the pair are now one of six finalists in Saturday’s £12,500 Arena Racing Company Cesarewitch Grand Final at the Sittingbourne venue with Ela Maestro.
The two-year-old dog by Droopys Sydney won his Round One qualifying heat a fortnight ago before placing second behind fellow finalist Alright Gordy in Saturday’s semifinal.
It marks only the second time the Hamblin brothers have been represented in a Category One final – the highest level of UK greyhound racing. And Chris is hopeful of a big run from his kennel star.
“He was destined to step up to a longer six-bend trip since he arrived at the kennel in the autumn,” said Chris. “I wasn’t entirely convinced the 731-metre trip would play to his strengths, but he’s proven me wrong and clearly enjoys Central Park.
“All greyhound trainers dream of winning the big competitions, and we’re no different.
“It’s been a huge journey to get to this stage, and having a Category One winner really would be a great reward for the team’s hard work and the support we receive from our owners.”
Joining the Graham Freeman owned Ela Maestro in Saturday’s final are Ballymac Taylor, Bradys Bullet, Garfiney Blaze, Mad For Sterling and Alright Gordy.
The winner will write their name as the Cesarewitch’s’ 85th champion after the competition was first held in 1928 at West Ham Stadium with previous winners including Wembley 100 inductee Mick The Millar and the legendary Scurlogue Champ.
And Chris believes Saturday’s draw has worked in his favour with Ela Maestro set to start from trap one on the inside.
“His performances have been really strong,” said Chris. “I watched the semifinals from the backstraight, and he made a b-line for the inside rail from the traps, so Saturday’s draw is great for us.
“There are some really talented greyhounds in the final, but the draw has improved our chances and will make the race interesting.
“He’s more than capable of dipping his time back to the 44.7 – 44.8 second mark. If he does, there’s no reason why we can’t make the frame.”
Tickets for Saturday’s Arena Racing Company Cesarewitch Grand Final – including trackside packages and restaurant bookings - are available to purchase from the Central Park Stadium. Doors open at 5.30pm with the first of 12 races starting at 6.38pm.
2024 Arena Racing Company Cesarewitch Grand Final:
Trap One – Ela Maestro
Trap Two – Ballymac Taylor
Trap Three – Bradys Bullet
Trap Four – Garfiney Blaze
Trap Five – Mad For Sterling
Trap Six – Alright Gordy