NARCOS THE GREAT landed a fairytale success for new trainer George Cunningham in the Arena Racing Company Classic Final at Sunderland last week.

A licence holder for just two months, the near Edinburgh-based handler sent out one of just four dogs he has in training – kennelmate Lav Yin Yak also lined up in the Sunderland final – to strike gold in the £6,500-to-the-winner Category One annual.

It was a powerful performance from the October 2019 son of Droopys Jet and College Jade, who was purchased after winning on debut at Enniscorthy in 28.93sec (-20), a victory highlighted by Ian Fortune in Talking Dogs on the GRI website.

Running in the opening round of an unraced stake, the greyhound then known as Couldbegreat lived up to his name when showing great potential, overcoming a slow start to still lead at the bend with an impressive show of early pace.

Fortune wrote: “It’s clear Couldbegreat is a very bright prospect and is one to keep an eye on in the long week and months.” And so it proved.

Purchased by Cunningham following that Enniscorthy success, Narcos The Great made his debut for owner-trainer Cunningham at Sheffield in the first week of October – and Thursday’s final was just his fifth race for the handler.

Qualifying in third behind Freedom Whiskey in the heats of the Arc Classic, Narcos The Great finished best in the semi-finals to reel in Moanteen Mikey to register a first UK victory – and there was almost a repeat in the 450m decider.

With favourite Mindhowyougo not coming away as well as the eventual winner and Moanteen Mikey, it was the latter who set sail for home round the outside for the Angela Harrison kennel. However, Narcos The Great was to prove too strong.

Hitting the front at the third bend, the two-year-old raced away to win by four and a half lengths from Moanteen Mikey in 26.84sec (normal) – the fastest time of the event. Borna Dime (Peter Ancell) edged our Mindhowyougo (Stuart Tighe) for third.

Ian Walton, general manager at Newcastle but at sister track Sunderland on Thursday for the open-race action, said: “It was a great night’s racing with a batch of finals – and hopefully something for everyone!

“And there was certainly something for George Cunningham and his team of owners in this year’s Arena Racing Company Classic – and that always looked possible given he had two finalists and then went on to win it with Narcos The Great.

“He’s clearly an improving greyhound, hasn’t long been with George, and just seemed to get better throughout the event, finishing off with a brilliant effort in the final. I reckon he’s  a name to follow and it will be interesting to see how far he can go in the Arc All England Cup at Newcastle.

“They told me they’re fans of the Netflix series and that’s how they came by the name. We might see that prefix more in the future, but what a start for George. He’s not had the licence long and actually hasn’t been involved in the sport for that long either.

“He first went racing at Shawfield about five years ago before becoming an owner at Newcastle. He obviously enjoyed the experience and is now training himself and he has an excellent support team – with great success.

“Well done to him and thanks to all the trainers and owners who supported this year’s Classic.”