Caption: The promising Litigate, one of two hopes Tony Brett (right) is targeting at the Group Two Flying Amy Classic (520m). Photo: Box 1 Photography
By Chase Editor PAT McLEOD
During a winter carnival soaked in history, powerhouse Queensland trainer Tony Brett can be forgiven for a more-than-fleeting glance into the rear-vision mirror.
Brett is never shy of showing emotion. His broad grin and victory-pumping salute have often been seen during a winner’s parade at tracks across Queensland and Australia.
The Grandchester (near Ipswich) based trainer would love history and emotion to collide at Albion Park on June 16.
That’s when the Group Two Flying Amy Classic (520m) will be decided at The Creek. Although now worth $150,000, it is far from the richest prize of the 2022 TAB Winter Greyhound Racing Carnival.
But as Brett knows, there are some things far more valuable than money. Back home, at his kennels there are two photos that are constant reminders of this. One is of Flying Amy, the other is of Toban Leah, the chasing great that is a cornerstone of the Brett family training dynasty.
This year the Brisbane Greyhound Racing Club celebrates its 50th anniversary. The gala night is June 2.
Across those years the club has raced at two tracks – the Gabba, from 1972-1993 and Albion Park, from 1993 through to the present.
The race that is now called The Flying Amy Classic, for chasers under 30 months of age, straddles both tracks, starting in 1985.
In 1993, its first running at Albion Park, that race, then called the Queensland Puppy Classic, was won by Toban Leah, trained by Tony’s father Dave Brett.
Although almost 30 years ago, Brett remembers that era well.
“I was 23, working at the meatworks at Grantham, helping mum and dad out with the dogs,” he recalls. “But I was more into punting and beers rather than greyhounds.
“My greatest memories of back then and Toban Leah was just the sheer enjoyment that mum and dad got out of that dog.
“She (Toban Leah) was special, a real local legend. To win a big race down here at Albion Park was massive and because she was mum and dad’s best dog, well that brings back great memories.
“The kennels are still named after her and her picture still hangs outside.
“Those times, that success, taught me just how special the good times are and that they should be enjoyed. We see people win a big race these days and some just walk back as if nothing has happened. Our family look at each other and say ‘man, that’s not how you enjoy winning a race’.
“Winning big races doesn’t happen often enough so you really have to enjoy it. You have to make the most of it and I’m sure how I celebrate stems from way back to the Toban Leah days.”
Ironically, the great Flying Amy won that same race, the following year, in 1994. It was named in her honour in 1999.
Dave Brett won the race just once. Tony Brett has won it twice – in 2008 with Bogie Ace and 2010 with Velocity Regina.
“This race is special to me because Flying Amy is up there in the top three dogs that I have ever seen,” Tony Brett said. “I can still remember watching her in a Gold Coast Cup where she just flew out. She was such a great beginner, one of the best.
“So, this race is special also because they are never easy to win. If you go through the list of winners you will see the quality of dogs that have won. But it is more about just how special Flying Amy was.
“It is nice to look back and say ‘yes we won that’.”
Brett has a double-pronged assault on this year’s Flying Amy – Milligan and Litigate. Although both dogs ooze class, both also carry question marks.
“Milligan is a nice dog, but I think he will run further and we are starting to see that,” he said.
“He is just starting to lose some of that early dash, but I have no doubt that he is a group dog. He used to sprint and as a pup he was trialling 24.80 at Ipswich and had good early speed whereas now he is a bit of a grinder.
“We will run him through the carnival races and after that we will see if he can stay.
“I have another dog coming back – Litigate. He ran the fastest of the Vince Curry heats, then in the semi-final he dropped a pin muscle and has been out for a while. At his first start back he won over 395 metres and then got cleaned up in his next race. We’re pushing him towards the Flying Amy.
“Litigate can probably get down to the times that Milligan is getting down to. He is serious enough to be up with those dogs in the Flying Amy however he hasn’t had a lot of starts and there are some really good young dogs around at the moment.
“Because of injury he lacks that bit of experience. He will need a lot of luck in the running.
“But these are the sort of races that can elevate a dog to the next level.”
Also on June 16 at Albion Park will be the listed Dashing Corsair Final over 710m with a total prizemoney of $37,500.
Then a week later, ‘Super Night’ returns to Albion Park on June 23, with a race being held over every distance. Features on the night include: Group 3 Super Sprinters 520m; Group 3 Super Stayers Invitational 710m; The Lightning Open 331m; The Thunder Open 395m; The Tempest Open 600m; Chairman’s Cup Open 710m.