Bigger is better for Toxic

\"\"Caption: Kira and Steve Withers (centre) with star chaser Tommy Shelby and connections after his recent return to the track.

WEST AUSTRALIAN NEWS

With JAMES BROADHURST

A CHANGE in diet has helped turn around the fortunes of one of the state’s leading racedogs.

Sunset Toxic made a dramatic return to form when he took out the WA Sprint Championship (520m) at Cannington in mid-August for Nambeelup-based trainer David Hobby.

After a brilliant start from box five, Sunset Toxic established a handy three-length break in the back straight before things tightened up in the final few strides.

Stargazer, Got The Sugar and Super Zoom Jake all flashed home late to create a compacted finish but Sunset Toxic had enough left in the tank to hold on and score by a quarter of a length in 29.98.

Arguably the best dog going around during the summer months, Sunset Toxic’s performances had tapered off in more recent times with only a single win from 13 starts prior to the Sprint final.

The dip in form had puzzled Hobby, who was WA’s leading trainer last year and knows a thing or two about getting dogs in shape, but he admitted he’d made a mistake with Sunset Toxic.

He’d gotten the dog too fit!

“I sat down three weeks ago and went back through his weight book,” Hobby explained after the race.

“He raced best at around 32.5kg and I’d gotten him down to about 31kg because he’s just the sort of dog that looks heavy.”

Much like Shane Warne or ‘Plugger’ Lockett in their heyday Sunset Toxic is an athlete who does his best work with some extra padding.

Sunset Toxic has essentially eaten his way back to the top.

“He’s put on over 1kg and he’s getting back to where he should be,” Hobby said.

Wicked Rhythm defied the odds to claim the WA Distance Championship (715m).

Sent to the boxes as a $33 chance Wicked Rhythm got the jump on her rivals with a superb launch from box three and from that point onwards she couldn’t be headed.

She held her challengers at bay for the entire journey to score by just over length ahead of runner-up Jett’s Cracker in 42.12.

The Enzo Crudeli-trained chaser has been a more than handy performer over the stretch with 16 wins from 50 starts for more than $110,000 in stakes.

Tommy Shelby returns in style

“So far so good.”

That was the assessment of trainer Steve Withers following the recent return of superstar chaser Tommy Shelby at Cannington.

‘The People’s Dog’ was a bit better than good. In fact he looked pretty sharp in what was his first appearance at the track for more than three months when he cruised to a comfortable victory in a 520m Free To All.

From box one the blue phenom got a dream run along the rails to take control of the race early and he didn’t lose hold of it until they were past the finish post.

Tommy Shelby crossed the line nearly four lengths ahead of perennial placegetter Stargazer to stop the clock in a very swift 29.60.

More importantly he showed no signs of the hock complaint that had kept him out of action.

Incredibly it was Tommy Shelby’s first victory in WA since September last year.

Of course in between he collected three Group One trophies, pushed his stakemoney past the $1million mark, made a big contribution to various charities and cemented his place as Australia’s most popular greyhound.

During his time on the sidelines Tommy Shelby had been in demand as a stud dog and he should have lucrative career in the breeding barn post-racing but there’s plenty more for him to achieve on the track before then.

Withers stated that his immediate goal for Tommy Shelby was the Spring Gift, a race he won last year, at Cannington in mid-September.

While his trainer won’t admit to looking that far ahead if Tommy Shelby stays sound it’s highly likely that another trip east will be on cards.

Time to get back aboard the Tommy train!

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