(Each month Chase puts the spotlight on a person and/or their ‘best friend’ – a story that gives an insight into the true heart of greyhound racing.)
By David Brasch
TONY Apap reckoned he had a couple of months to spare so why not take on a project.
The project was Cyclone Fergus, a black dog by Hay Fergus-Krinon Brae, who had showed unlimited ability when first put into training in Victoria by Nick Koutsourakis.
But a litany of injuries looked likely to end the dog\’s career even before it really got started.
\”Back in May, Nick had approached me to train his litter brother Cyclone Arrow and we won four of his first five starts with him and he ran 29.84 at Albion Park,\” said Apap.
\”But, in the meantime I heard he had a litter brother who was even better, so I contacted Nick about sending him up as well.\”
Nick was reluctant.
He reckoned the dog was Group 1 material. He\’d won his first two at Horsham and Healesville in fast times, but broke down and was off the scene for seven months.
A return saw him again win in fast time at Healesville, but by late June he\’d been injured again.
\”Nick is a mate of Col Shorter and I\’ve known Col for a long while and trained a nice bitch for him a year or so ago,\” said Apap.
\”Nick rang and asked if I still wanted the Cyclone Fergus.\”
By the time he got to Queensland, Cyclone Fergus had torn a back muscle, tore both pin muscles and injured a stopper bone.
Apap knew the task would be difficult to say the least. \”But, what the heck,\” he said. \”I thought I\’d give him a try and what would I lose but a few months work on him.
\”Wow, when he arrived, he was just like his brother, a magnificent type of dog, fabulous temperament, absolutely beautiful dog.\”
He took the long road by free galloping ‘Nick’ (Cyclone Arrow\’s kennel name) and letting him work himself into some fitness, then put him through straight work.
\”The first time I trialled him at Albion Park he went 22.50 over 395, then he slipped post to post in 24.02,\” said Tony. \”The run was even better when you consider Mick Zammit did the same with Stinger Noir that same morning and he ran 24.07.\”
At his second race start for Apap, Cyclone Fergus scorched around Albion Park in 29.67 – an incredible performance considering what he had to come back from.
\”He\’s a fast, fast dog,\” said Apap. \”But, the question mark around him is just how long we will have him. He\’s lucky to have even made it back to the track.
\”Everything he does from now on is a bonus.\”
Cyclone Fergus has since run second in a heat of the Ipswich Gold Cup.