Patrick Janssens reflects on winning his first Greyhound Board of Great Britain Trainer of the Year title
For obvious reasons most people will have understandably been glad to see the back of 2020.
But for Hockwold handler Patrick Janssens, it is a year which he will always look back on with great fondness.
Lakenheath-based Mark Wallis headed into the campaign having clinched every Greyhound Board of Great Britain (GBGB) Trainer of the Year title since 2012 – taking his overall tally to a record-breaking 11 in the process.
However, an impressive season from Janssens’ kennels – which included seven Category One victories – saw the Belgium-born trainer break Wallis’ stranglehold on the top prize.
Janssens, who was Wallis’ assistant for 10 years before going solo, finished the year on 872 points, 193 points clear of his former employer in second (679) and ahead of Liz McNair (594), Kevin Hutton (394), David Mullins (347) and Ernie Gaskin (315).
“We’ve been improving every year but there has never been enough strength in depth and we’ve had a few dogs go lame and that has stopped us winning it before,” said Janssens.
“The seven Category One wins were really key. We don’t have that many dogs when you compare us to Mark – it’s probably almost half – so we have to do well in the big races and make sure we go close in the ones we don’t win.
“Greyhound racing is my hobby, it’s not a profession. I don’t want to be getting involved with lots of graded races, I want to be winning the big races and my owners know that.
“That way I decide when and where the dogs run, rather than graded races when it’s decided for you. There are four of us and only 20-odd dogs, so they get a lot of attention and plenty of our time.
“We always did well when I worked with Mark and he’s continued that, but this year our dogs were better. We won the big races when a lot of time in recent years it has been the other way round.”
While there were positives aplenty over the course of the year, one member of Janssens’ string stands out.
He added: “Goldies Hoddle won the Golden Sprint and I reared him myself after he came over from Ireland – the win meant a lot.
“He won 14 Open races during the year and they absolutely love him down at Romford.
“He’s a fantastic dog. Maybe not the quickest or the flashiest, but he’s very, very consistent and that goes a long way.”
Now, though, there is no time for Janssens to rest on his laurels or savour his recent success.
The heats for the Essex Vase get under way at Romford on Friday. And while Janssens is not setting any major targets, he is aiming for further improvement.
“It’s all about doing as well as we can and I feel we’ve got some really good dogs and young puppies to continue from where we left off,” he said.
“There are some dogs we’ve not trialled yet but they are very exciting.”