Next, we go to the dogs – to the greyhound racing stadium at Hove on the south coast. In 1985 and 1986 the sport was lifted by the exploits of one extraordinary dog. His name would join the ‘greats’ to be mentioned along with the legendary Mick the Miller of the 1930s. Ballyregan Bob was as fast and dominant as any greyhound has ever been. A winning streak started in August 1985 unparalleled in the history of the sport. Greyhound racing had again discovered a superstar.
With an Irish pedigree (and much loved by his Irish supporters), Ballyregan Bob was bred in the south of England. His local track was Hove. Astonishingly in retrospect, he lost his first four races before becoming, in the words of his trainer George Curtis, “the perfect racing machine”.
He won 41 of his next 43 races. In December 1986, at 9.19 pm, Ballyregan Bob stood on the verge of a new world record. Could he become the winner of 32 races in succession Appropriately, that final race was at his home track of Hove. It was broadcast live on television by the BBC. The traps flew open and Ballyregan Bob was in third place going into the first bend, then he moved up to second place and, showing his familiar ease of acceleration, by the last bend the world record was never in doubt as the crowd cheered him home more than nine lengths clear of any follower.
His achievements are honoured at Hove with a statue, sculpted by James Osborne. Bob is in full flight racing towards the finishing line. It stands as a centre-piece beside the track where Ballyregan Bob made sporting history.