EL TENOR was already three and a half years old when the incident occurred which was ultimately to see him enter the record books as the winningmost open-racer in greyhound history.
He had won the Essex Vase at Romford the previous year, but that seemed destined to be his crowning achievement until he was disqualified for aggressive interference in a Crayford open and the decision was taken to switch him to hurdles.
Almost immediately it was clear that the dog, owned by Italian film producer Mario Lanfranchi and trained by Linda Mullins, was a natural and he had won his first race over hurdles at Wimbledon just over two months after his Crayford indiscretion.
That victory ruled him out of the 1998 Springbok for novice hurdlers at Wimbledon, but he had won nine of his 13 jumps racing when the William Hill Grand National came round, staged for the final time at Hall Green in Birmingham.
A stayer on the flat, many thought the 480m trip in top company would prove too sharp for El Tenor and it was only close home that he got on top in the first round. Beaten in the second round, he was back on track with an emphatic semi-final victory and was then responsible for one of the most memorable finishes seen in the history of the National when coming from way off the pace in the final to land the crown by half a length from Quote That.
After that, El Tenor posted win after win mainly over staying trips – he passed Poor Sue’s then record of 69 open victories when scoring at Nottingham in December 1998 – but he was back to four bends to defend his National title in 1999 and may very well have done so but for being stopped in his tracks when powering through the field round the last couple of bends.
By now, connections had a century of open wins in their sights and he was campaigned a little more sparingly with that in mind; passing his fifth birthday in July 1999 he was by now taking slightly longer to recover from his race exertions.
October of that year saw him taste defeat for the final time and he then embarked on a run of 11 straight wins, the ninth of which memorably brought up the 100 at Romford in March 2000.