SHEFFIELD welcomes connections of the finalists of the Gain Greyhound Nutrition 3 Steps to Victory Final.
A unique event in the GBGB (Greyhound Board of Great Britain) calendar, this three-round event is run over three distances – hence 3 Steps – with heats over 480m, semi-finals over 500m and tonight’s £10,000 final over 660m.
Therefore the 3 Steps requires that blend of speed – to qualify from the heats and semi-finals – and then the necessary stamina to strike over six bends of this famous Owlerton Stadium, which first staged greyhound racing in 1932.
The first running of the 3 Steps was in 2003 and was won by a locally trained greyhound in Tucks Mein, trained by a former Sheffield trainer in Elaine Parker.
In those days, the 3 Steps was staged over 280m, 480m and 500m – a format which was kept for the following year when another Sheffield dog in Farloe Hack struck for Barrie Draper – represented tonight by Bull Run Button.
Following a gap, the revived 3 Steps To Victory was next staged in 2010 with a brand new format which has held today, with heats and semi-finals over four bends and the final over six – and the race has been staged every year since.
Monmore handler Chris Allsopp’s Head Iton Jason struck in 2010, but following Matt Dartnall’s 2011 strike with Kilmore Say Go, the trophy was back in the hands of a local runner in Clerihan Gold, trained by John Sharp – represented tonight by Sharpys Pluto.
The name of Charlie Lister OBE appears on most rolls of honour in greyhound racing and the multiple Derby-winning trainer sent out Hather George to win in 2013, before one of the most memorable 3 Steps took place in 2014.
Ballymac Eske will always be considered a modern-day great and the 2013 Scottish Derby winner signed off his career in brilliant style when, in his only six-bend race, he won the 3 Steps To Victory – in a new track record, which still stands today.
Kevin Boon’s Farneys Cookie (2015) and Mark Wallis’s Patchys Kerry (2016) won the next two runnings before the locals regained the trophy courtesy of a subsequent GBGB Bitch of the Year in Geelo Sapphire (2017) for Carl Perry.
Last year’s champion was Swift Hansel, trained by a Yorkshire-based trainer in Annaliese Thompson who runs her greyhounds at Nottingham, but is regular here at Sheffield on the open-race scene.
Tonight’s final will see Barrie Draper (Bull Run Button) eye a third 3 Steps Victory, with Sheffield trackmate John Sharp (Sharpys Pluto) plotting a second victory after his 25-1 strike with Clerihan Gold a few years back.
However, will the trophy head across the pennies to Lancashire courtesy of Manchester-based Charles Lynch (Rocket John)? Or head to the north-east with Newcastle’s Jimmy Fenwick (Lemon Ronald)?
Underlining the quality of the field, a Derby-winning trainer in Kevin Hutton (Ballymac Diego) is represented, while the current GBGB Trainer of the Year standings leader Patrick Janssens (Ballymac Diego) also has a finalist in Seaglass Celine.
Good luck all.