Category One Final Within Reach For Budding Young Trainer


19 October 2023

A professional greyhound trainer who took over the family business following his father’s passing is less than 29 seconds away from reaching one of the sport’s most prestigious finals.

Connor Smith’s application to follow in his late father Robert’s footsteps was accepted in 2021 and he now runs a seven-day-a-week operation from his kennels in Berkeley where he is responsible for the around-the-clock care of 38 greyhounds.

The 30-year-old is supported by his mother, Pat, and a team of part-time staff who fulfil each greyhound’s exercise, feeding, social and racing routines.

To date, Connor and his team are yet to reach a Category One final – the highest level of UK greyhound racing. 

But that could change on Saturday night when Home Bronagh runs in the semi-finals of the Premier Greyhound Racing Oaks at Perry Barr Stadium in Birmingham. The three-year-old bitch will need to place in the top two of Semi Final Three at 8.36pm to advance to the competition’s £20,000 final. 

And Connor is hopeful of a big run. 

“It’s every greyhound trainer’s dream to reach the big finals,” said Connor. “And the Oaks is one of the sport’s most prestigious events so reaching the semi-finals is an achievement in itself. 

“She (Home Bronagh) has great knowledge of the Perry Barr track and her running style means her times reflect her true ability.

“It’s a tough draw, and she’ll need to run a big race to qualify against some very talented greyhounds. But she’s surprised us twice already in Rounds One and Two so there’s nothing to say she can’t do the same on Saturday.”

Since taking control of the kennel, Connor described greyhound racing as his life.

His day at the kennels starts at 6.30am and will often finish past midnight once all walking, treatment, feeding and racing responsibilities are completed. 

Despite the hours, Connor said he wouldn’t change it for the world. 

“Once you’re invested in the sport, the passion never goes away,” said Connor. “I had the chance to take over properly when my dad passed away, and I haven’t looked back since.

“Being outdoors and working with animals is the life for me - I definitely couldn’t do a Monday to Friday job. It’s long hours and hard work, but that’s what’s required to be a trainer.

“Greyhounds do not know it’s a Sunday, or that it’s Christmas Day. You’ve got to be there for them 24/7 to keep them happy and healthy – that’s the number one priority.”

Tickets for the Semi Finals of the 2023 Premier Greyhound Racing Oaks on Saturday, October 21, are available from £7 via the Perry Barr website or can be purchased on the door. U18s can watch for £1.

Race one is due off at 6.26pm with the first Semi Final scheduled for 8.06pm. 

Semi Final One: Starshinestunner, Charming Girl, Whats Up Eva, Droopys Mandolin, Bellmore Lola, Ballyhimikin Mel. 

Semi Final Two: Baywatch Bullet, Ballymac Astra, Droopys Ailsa, Antigua Bingo, Freedom Vesta, No Rush.

Semi Final Three: Queen Georgia, Jet Stream Angel, Queen Shakira, Droopys Request, Allowdale Cazoo, Home Bronagh. 

Perry Barr Greyhound Stadium

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