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William Hill Festival - Sunderland

This great six-bend competition has always run alongside the Classic but is one of the biggest and best staying races in the calendar. I will never forget the 2013 running which resulted in a dead-heat between two greats Hometown Honey and Calzaghe Lilly. It was one of the greatest and most thrilling races I have ever seen but this competition is renowned for exciting races.


It's been won by some of the biggest names in six-bend racing like Lenson Joker, England Expects and the great Blonde Fletch. Last year Farley Rio came out on top after an epic battle and he's back looking to repeat that magnificent feat for a second time. Bubbly Gold second, Aayamzamodel fourth and Dinzeo fifth are all back for another crack at lifting the Grand Prix. The heats have thrown together last year's first two and it promises to be a great race.


One of the most interesting runners must be the classy Jaytee China. She's making the step up in trip and if she stays we could have fireworks at Sunderland. Her kennel companion Teejays Panther has been burning up Romford over 575m and you could not help but be impressed with his fast 27.17 450m trial. 


Locals Elwick Glory and Blackhouse Heidi are right up there with the best stayers in the country and must be respected.


Jimmy Wright looks to have a very strong hand with no fewer than four runners so I caught up with the man who handles the exciting Magical Reid and co.


Jimmy Wright on Cuil Rocket, Magical Reid, Airmount Paco and Romeo Fantastico


'There's no pressure on our Classic runners but here in the Grand Prix and next week in the Sprint and Puppy competitions we are expected to go well. It's an amazing competition this and it's going to take some winning. There's top class greyhounds everywhere you look and you have to do everything right if your going to have any chance.


Cuil Rocket deserves to take his chance. He's been running really at Newcastle, best scratch runner at the track for me so I'm hoping he goes well in this kind of company.


Magical Reid is a greyhound who's getting stronger all the time and if he keeps flying the lids he is a big player for this competition. He's really impressed me his couple of runs around Sunderland and is a talented greyhound. At this level though you can't make any mistakes if he makes any we are in trouble if he doesn't he could win this.


Airmount Paco is proven at the highest level but is a greyhound who does not travel well. So competitions at Newcastle or Sunderland are ideal. He was brilliant winning the Great North Run and if he keeps trapping well then he is also a big player for me.


Romeo Fantastico is an interesting dog, I think he's a decent dog who should love the long run to the corner. He's won a maiden but I want to see how he copes with this kind of opposition I'm hoping he goes well'.


This is going to be an amazing competition. Who do you think is in 'Pole Position' to land this year's Grand Prix?   


Heats: Saturday 4th July 

Semi-Finals: Saturday 11th July

Final: Wednesday 15th July (Sky Sports)