Prolific harness racing reinsman Greg Sugars will be chasing Group 1 glory on two fronts – make that two codes – on Saturday night.
Sugars will be at Cranbourne driving Glenferrie Hood in the Cranbourne Gold Cup and Arboe in the Knight Pistol, however he’ll also be doing his best to keep a close eye on the bumper Australian Cup meeting at The Meadows.
Sugars plans to dash off the track after piloting Anything For Love in the Group 3 Caduceus Club Cup at Cranbourne to watch his first greyhound Esparza, trained by another multi-coder in Jamie Ennis, contest the Group 1 $145,000 Superstayers (725m) eight minutes later.
“I got such a big buzz sitting at home watching Esparza win her heat last week. I got just as much excitement out of it as I’ve got from any of the Group 1 wins I’ve had myself,” said Sugars (pictured, inset left, with Esparza and Jamie Ennis).
“Esparza’s my first greyhound and I really didn’t expect to get as much excitement or enjoyment out of being involved in greyhound racing.
“The only disappointing thing is that I won’t be able to be at The Meadows on Saturday night. I’ve got a full book of drives at Cranbourne but I’ll have eight minutes to get off the track to find a television to watch her race.
“I was there when she won her first race at Sandown (Replay) but I don’t think I’ve watched her race live since so it might be a good thing that I won’t be there on Saturday!”
Originally from South Australia, Sugars, 31, hasn’t looked back since relocating to Victoria eleven years ago with his father, leading trainer Ross.
“I got such a big buzz sitting at home watching Esparza win her heat last week. I got just as much excitement out of it as I’ve got from any of the Group 1 wins I’ve had myself”- GREG SUGARS
Sugars has regularly driven in excess of 200 winners in recent years, while last season he claimed his first Victorian drivers’ title and finished second in the national award.
He enjoyed a wonderful association with star pacer Sushi Sushi, while his many feature successes include the Victoria Derby, Great Northern Derby in New Zealand, Queensland Pacing Championship, a South Australian Cup victory at his only drive on champion Smoken Up, as well as numerous Breeders Crowns and country cups.
Sugars’ introduction to greyhound racing came when Jamie Ennis wisely decided to call on his skills in the sulky.
“Jamie’s dabbled in all three codes throughout his career and I met him when he was training a couple of pacers a few years ago,” Sugars explained.
“I didn’t know Jamie from a bar of soap but he introduced himself at the trials one day and asked me to drive for him. We had a bit of success and Jamie and his wife Brooke have become terrific friends. They’re outstanding people to deal with.
“I started following their kennel and they were having plenty of success and I asked Jamie about finding a dog for me. There’s some other harness racing people that are silent shareholders in Esparza as well so she’s got quite a big following.
“It’s been a lot of fun but it’s a strange feeling watching her. It’s hard in a way because she started off a bit wayward and field shy and that was frustrating from my point of view because as a driver we obviously have a hell of a lot of say in what happens once a race is on, whereas in greyhound racing you’ve got no control at all and it’s basically in the lap of the gods.
“But on the flip side, there’s no one to point the finger at after a greyhound race!”
WATCH: James and Simone preview Saturday night’s Superstayers at The Meadows.