Greyhound racing: A look at Patrick Janssens’ fantastic 2020

Patrick Janssens’ obsession with Greyhounds stems back to when he was just a young boy growing up in Belgium. His father raced pigeons, but he took more of a liking to the dogs and from just the age of 10 he was a regular at tracks throughout Belgium and nearby Amsterdam. By his teenage years, he had already trained a runner-up in the Belgium Championships.

He then spent many years working in kennels across Ireland and England, and it wasn’t until 2014 that he split away to form his own kennels, which he set up with his wife. Janssens has enjoyed his fair share of success in the last seven years or so, but 2020 was without doubt his best year to date as trainer.

Janssens landed a whopping seven major race wins, which as a result landed him his inaugural Trainer of the Year award – ending Mark Willis’, who he used to work for at Imperial Kennels, eight-successive triumphs as the top trainer in the sport.

Desperado Dan, who was more often than not amongst the favourites on sites like Betdaq, won the Gold Collar at Catford Stadium with a time of 33.64, landing Janssens his first victory as a trainer in the prestigious race. Desperado Dan also tasted Category One glory in the Champion Stakes at Romford Greyhound Stadium, landing Janssens yet another maiden victory of his career.

There was more success for Janssens at the East Anglian Derby. His dog, Kilara Lion, was far from the market leader at 6/1, but he took the lead around the final bend and held on to scoop the Belgian the £10,000 prize pot.

Similar to Desperado Dan, Kilara Lion was behind the success of Janssens on more than one occasion throughout the course of last year. He also won the Category One Kent Derby at his home track of Central Park. It was Janssens second victory in the 480-metre race, after Bockos Alfie’s victory in 2017.

“Dan’s just a star here – and is probably one of the most popular dogs in training. At Crayford he was probably the best he’s ever been – but in general he’s the sort of greyhound who turns up, runs his race and will do the same the next week and the next week. He’ll always been one of our favourites,” said Janssens about the two-time Category One winner.

Skilful Sandie’s victory in the sought-after Golden Jacket at Crayford Stadium was arguably Janssens most successful moment as a trainer to date. She was the youngest greyhound in the final of the prestigious competition, but she proved that she was good enough to land her trainer the £17.5k payday.

There was more maiden success for Janssens at Romford. His Goldies Hoddle strode to victory in the Golden Sprint back in March, landing the Belgian another £10k purse.

There was more maiden success for Janssens at Romford. His Goldies Hoddle strode to victory in the Golden Sprint back in March, landing the Belgian another £10k purse.

Bockos Doomie was the favourite in the Sussex Cup and he duly delivered, landing the Belgian trainer his second victory in the race, with Barricane Tiger securing Janssens first triumph in 2016. Given his 14-race unbeaten streak at Brighton and Hove stadium, there was expected to be more success for Bockos Doomie at the Olympic. However, injuries denied him that opportunity.

A repeat of seven Category One victories in 2021 is going to be a tough task, but Janssens definitely has his sights set on more of the same throughout the year. “I certainly favour quality over quantity and it would be asking a lot to repeat what we did in 2020,” he said.

“However, we’ll be aiming for the major competitions again and I’m delighted to see the Blue Riband return to the GBGB Calendar at Towcester – it’s important we maintain the tradition of these big races.”

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