KING SHEERAN is now a serious Greyhound of the Year contender at January’s GBGB Awards after winning this third Category One event of 2019 with victory in the Coral Greyhound Olympic at Hove on Saturday.

In helping round-off a brilliant year for his trainer Liz McNair – who finished a clear third in the Trainer of the Year standings – the home-bred led home a fantastic Olympic one-two for the Kent-based handler and her husband Rab, who reared the KSS Syndicate-bred February 2017 son of Eden The Kid and Skate On.

For good measure, Sheeran’s litter brother King Dylan finished second in the £7,500 decider at the Sussex track, with another littermate King Lennon fourth – but it was Sheeran’s night at a busy Hove.

“He was brilliant and I’m just delighted for the dog himself. He’s won the Produce Stakes, the British Bred Derby, reached the Derby semi-finals and now the Olympic – all for a dog who was off for a long while with a broken hock. It’s incredible and he’s everything we hoped he’d be after he won last year’s Trafalgar Cup at Monmore.”

Shoot The Bolt (June Harvey) and Volcanic Reef (Heather Dimmock) were both quickly away in Saturday’s final, but neither could escape and, with King Dylan rushing up the inside, crowding at the bend occurred and King Sheeran swooped round the outside to win by three lengths in 29.93sec (-30).

“I was in the middle so didn’t see what happened at the bend – and I only watched it Sunday,” added Rab McNair, “but he took a bump himself at the bend but rode it brilliantly and was in full stride down the back. He ran a superb second bend it should be said, but was obviously helped when Dylan just got up the inside of Volcanic Reef.

“It was a great night. We managed to get a one-two-three with the younger litter (Queen Tammy, King Louis, Queen Dolly) in the Central Park final on Sunday, so it was some weekend for us! But then again it’s been a great year – we lost King Elvis and King Turbo to retirement, and they’re going great at stud, but the ‘youngsters’ have played their part.

“Hove put on a great show on Saturday – and I have to thank Derek Knight (Hove trainer) for coming to find me and shake my hand after Sheeran one. Derek is one of the best trainers I know, a man myself and Liz have great respect for. I always like to wind him up and put a smile on his face – and we were both smiling on Saturday!

“Thanks to Brendan (Keogh) and Simon (Senyk) and the KSS Syndicate for their support of the kennels and the tools they give myself and Liz to work with. We can then look after the pups and the racing dogs and hopefully the Kings and Queens can keep on winning the major races in 2020 – that’s the plan anyway.

“We wish all greyhound fans the happiest of new years and we’ll be pushing again next year. We’re off to see family in Scotland now and will be away for a week – and I decided this morning that’s exactly what the dogs will be doing to. They’ll be having a short rest. They’ve been on the go for a while – it’ll do them and us good!

“It means missing the Coronation Cup at Romford, but the dogs will be worked on at home and be prepared for trials and comeback races.”