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Cearnsport Springbok - Central Park 480mH - £5,000

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Last year's Springbok winner Yasoo Martin

KIERAN LIFELY is looking forward to his first major competition - the Cearnsport Ltd. Springbok - as Central Park’s new operational manager.

 

Lifely, 33, joined the Kent track in November having been appointed to the role after a career in the Royal Mail. A fan of the sport, he was a regular at Wimbledon and followed the open-race scene and has attended most of the major races.

 

“I’ve been going racing for as long as I can remember,” he says. “Wimbledon was my local track, but I always tried to travel for a big final either here or in Ireland. Therefore, to be working in the industry is just fantastic - and the Springbok is a great way to start as such.

 

“I’ve always had a soft spot for hurdlers,” he adds. “One of my favourites was Shopitaly who came third in the Grand National final in 2003. I can still see Selby Ben going past him on the last hurdle with me clutching my losing bets!”

 

“I’ve been made to feel very welcome by everyone at Central Park. It’s a very different working environment than the Royal Mail, a much more close-knit community which has its advantages and disadvantages.

 

“I’d like to thank Roger Cearns, Barry Stanton and Keith Hougham, because without these three people I’d still just be a fan of racing looking in. I’d also like to thank Richard Brankley and Diana Illingworth at Ladbrokes, and in the media Floyd Amphlett and Jonathan Hobbs.

 

“I took this job on because I feel greyhound racing has a bright future. It’s too easy to sit back and say it’s not like the old days. We need to work together so the next generation has a strong and prosperous industry - but at the heart of it are the greyhounds themselves.”

 

Lifely believes Lenson Wilson is the one to beat in the Cearnsport Springbok. “Ricky’s (Holloway) dog has put in two impressive wins in trial stakes and the ante-post odds tell you what an outstanding chance he has, not just in the Springbok but also the Grand National here.

 

“I also feel Shaneboy Bowie will go a long way. He was a very nice dog on the flat and you feel he's improving over the jumps. Either way we hope the race to the £5,000 prize, kindly sponsored by Cearnsport Ltd, will be a thrilling one for fans of hurdles racing.

 

"Central Park provided the winner last year with George Andreas's Yassoo Martin, so we're hopeful of another big home challenge this year. We'd also like to see a good battle on final night in the supporting open races between our trainers and greyhounds and those from elsewhere."