At 43.2kg, he’s one big bopper

\"\"Caption: Trainer Bianca Whitford and Chris Johnson with General Rose (Photo: Box 1 Photography)

By DAVID BRASCH

COOMINYA trainer Bianca Whitford could see the funny side when Mick Zammit was on hand in the catching pen at Albion Park recently to grab General Rose after he had won at headquarters.

“Mick said he was thinking of riding him back to where I was waiting for him after the race,” said Bianca.

Anyone who has seen General Rose, and Mick Zammit for that matter, will understand what Bianca was talking about.

General Rose (Thirty Talks-Abigail Rose) is 43.2kgs and there are some who believe he could be the biggest ever Thursday night winner at the track.

And, to the other extreme, there are some who believe Noel Murdoch’s Ha Ha Lucky (Fernando Bale-Lucky Cha Cha) at 21kgs could very well be the smallest ever Thursday night winner at Albion Park.

“Yes, he’s a big boy,” said Bianca of General Rose. “It would not surprise me if he is the best performed dog in the country for his size.”

Bianca bought the dog from Victorian friends after he had won one race at Sale in eight starts.

“They had pups coming along at the time and needed the kennel space,” said Bianca of the ‘gentle giant’.

“We bought him for $2000 and he’s been one of the best buys ever.”

General Rose has (to time of writing) won six of 12 starts for Bianca and continues to improve and improve.

“Since we have stepped him up to 500 metres, he has grown a lot in confidence,” she said. “He used to just barge his way through a field. He was all arms and legs when we first got him. But lately he has become a very smart dog in a field.”

Listen to Bianca talk about the “gentle giant” and she comes up with some funny lines about him.

“He’s got the biggest feet of any greyhound I’ve seen,” she said.

“Yes, he’s got a beautiful nature and will make someone a wonderful pet when he retires.

“But his size really does bring along some unique problems.

“He cannot fit in the scales at Ipswich. It he races there, a steward has to hold his head up so he can squeeze onto the scales.

“And, putting a racing rug on him is a task. He wears an extra large rug but because they are hardly ever used, they are a really snug fit on him most of the time. The extra large only just fits him.

“Add to that, the starting boxes are a problem as well. He only just fits into them wherever he races.”

Feeding General Rose is a monster task as well.

“He gets 850gms of meat and one and a half cups of Black Hawk kibble,” said Bianca. “His morning meal is Weetbix and milk and it reminds me of that advert ‘how many Weetbix can you do’.

“We put a couple of kilos on him after he arrived from Victoria but these days the 43 kilos is him,” said Bianca. “There is no way he could come down from that. It’s his racing weight.”

Bianca says no race day for General Rose goes by without at least one rival trainer commenting on the size of the dog.

“In one of the very early races we gave him after he came up from Victoria, the next biggest dog in the race was just 30 kilo,” she said.

“Even at home, our other dog Ninetymile King is 36 kilos and when you put the pair of them together, General Rose towers over him.”

Bianca says General Rose often gets called “The Horse” around the kennels but she says he is destined to continue to improve.

“I think he will be even better when he gets up to 600 metres,” she said.

“No,” she said. “There is no way you could hide him at the trials.”

Noel Murdoch’s grand little bitch Ha Ha Lucky has won nine races to date all of them at Albion Park pushing her 21kgs around the track and making a statement of her own.

Match race?

Now that would be something to see!

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