Hove’s champion trainer in 2014, Claude Gardiner, fears for the future following the implementation of EU rules on animal transportation.

The rules have been in place for some time, but Irish authorities recently announced their intention to enforce them more strictly. The rules will require rabies jabs, micro-chipping and veterinary checks before the dogs will be allowed to leave Ireland. Gardiner said: “It is going to make a lot of cheap dogs more expensive and some of the Irish owners may not bother to send them over.

“I have a little bitch in the kennel who cost £300 and is capable of winning low grade. Add on all those other costs and will anyone want to buy her?”

While many trainers struggle to attract owners, the affable Gardiner has no such problems.

He said: “We have a great bunch of owners and 65 dogs in the kennel. The maximum we can take is 70 and I prefer to have a couple of spare spaces. Most of my owners have come by recommendation.

“I try very hard to look after new owners and one of the main ways is waiting to see dogs trial before they are sold. So many owners are left disappointed when they buy a dog who turns out not to be as promised. If a dog trials and disappoints, we would look at renegotiating a price. On other occasions, owners have been very unlucky and I’ve given them one of my own dogs.”

Claude picks out Zulu Baran and Beachy Head as two to follow this year. He said: “Baran is a decent stayer who represented Hove in the Track Championship final at Nottingham and won well. We will be doing some open racing with him now. I don’t know whether he will turn out to be category one class, but we will soon know. I always Beachy Head, who is owned by Jenny Burns and Michelle Docherty, to make into a decent bitch once she went over the longer distance and so it has proved. She is only A5 over the standard but has won S2 over the trip. The more I see of her though, the more I think her real distance will in marathons.”