By ANDREW THOMSON
Little River greyhound trainer Dave Burnett has been left devastated after star sprinter Simon Told Helen, that he guided to four group one wins, has died of a twisted bowel.
The black 36.5kg dog (Barcia Bale-Who Told Lindylu) finished his career with 48 starts for 26 wins, 15 placings and $918,941 in prizemoney.
He won four group one races, two group twos and two group threes to stamp himself as the most consistent sprinter of his generation.
Simon Told Helen passed away in the second week of April.
The dog left Burnett\’s Little River property in late January to take up stud duties.
But, it is understood those plans went amiss and Simon Told Helen was back in work under the care of Champion Queensland trainer Tony Brett.
Burnett said he was gutted when told Simon Told Helen had passed away.
He said the star sprinter was performing near his best with a couple of placings at Wentworth Park in the Paws Of Thunder series, a venue where he has struggled, before heading for stud duties.
Burnett said the Wentworth Park boxes didn\’t suit greyhounds like Simon Told Helen who stood up in the boxes and therefore missed the start at that venue.
\”His best there was 29.80 and he never came out of those boxes because of their unique design,\” he said.
Burnett said Simon Told Helen had earnt $800,000 last year when COVID made interstate travel extremely difficult.
\”That was a phenomenal effort. He\’s the best dog I\’ve trained by a long long way,\” he said.
\”Kiss Me Ketut won group races and $250,000 but Simon Told Helen was just in another class.
\”He just did everything right. Those elite dogs are just on another level.
\”I\’ve seen him bump dogs out of the way to get the run he wanted, to thread the eye of the needle.
\”He may not have been the fastest dog, but he tried the best. He was a tremendous chaser with enormous first and second sectional speed.
\”After running second in the Melbourne Cup the owners wanted to retire him, but it takes a while to go through the DNA process, to provide a semen sample.
\”We did that and he was tested and approved. I had hoped to go through the Temlee and the Australian Cup and for him to go out on a high, but that didn\’t happen.\”
The Little River trainer said he knew he had something special when he started trialling Simon Told Helen well before he started racing.
But, he said winning the group three Cup Night Sprint on Melbourne Cup night confirmed all those ambitions.
\”He missed the start, went straight past a group field and set up a 15 length break down the back in just his 11th start.
\”He ran faster than Whiskey Riot winning the Melbourne Cup. He just ran away from group dogs that night.
\”It was something very, very special.\”
Burnett said he had no doubt that Simon Told Helen would have thrown outstanding pups.
\”He just had that second sectional speed the elite stud dogs have,\” he said.
\”It was enormous pressure to train him after the Cup Night win, because the expectations were so high.
\”We just did everything we could to make sure he was right every time he went to the races,\” he said.
\”There was pressure every start. I\’ve had good dogs, like Wedding Or Baby, who is an up-and-coming city class dog, but having something like Simon Told Helen was just completely different.
\”He was elite. I\’m not sure there\’s been a more consistent dog for a long time,\” he said.
\”There were not many races he didn\’t lead and then they had to run him down and he would still run places.
\”Hard Style Rico and Flying Riccardo ran him down on their night, but those were exceptional runs.
\”Simon Told Helen was out the front and firing every time he raced. He didn\’t need box one or box eight.
\”I\’ve been waiting 20 years to train a greyhound like him. It was an honour to be associated with a dog that will always be remembered as one of the elite sprinters.
\”He ran 22.28 first run at Geelong over 400m. First time out of the puppy boxes at The Meadows he went 16.08 and the record was 15.92.
\”He broke both fibulas he went that hard. Then he won a maiden and broke 25 seconds at Warrnambool, but the pressure really came on after the Cup Night Sprint.
\”The expectations were huge every start. People judge to see if you can train and I would like to think we gave Simon Told Helen every chance to perform at his best.\”
Burnett said he was offered the opportunity to train four pups in Simon Told Helen\’s litter after they were reared at his Little River property by Brian Parsons.
\”He was desperate to get them reared because they were getting out of a city backyard,\” he said.
\”I usually just breed, rear and race my own. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity,\” he said.
\”When I heard he passed away I was just shattered for the dog.
\”He won $918,000 in prizemoney and will be forever in the record books. But, he would have thrown great pups, with vitality and vigour, and now we\’ll never get the chance to breed, rear and race them.
\”It\’s all gone, finished. It\’s really flattened me. I had a very special bond with him.
\”The support from people has been phenomenal. A lot of people know how much a special dog means to a trainer.
\”I lost a lot of sleep to make sure he was 100 per cent. We scratched him from the NSW Derby when he wasn\’t 100 per cent right after a spider bite.
\”We always put him first. I knew that Melbourne Cup night he was super special. Now it\’s all over.
\”It feels like I\’ve lost a mate, a very special mate,\” he said.
Burnett said he had fulfilled his dream of training a champion greyhound.
\”I\’m now questioning, do I need to keep going?\” he said.
\”It\’s like winning a gold medal at the Olympics. I\’ve been there and done that now.
\”I always stuck to the training mechanism I believed in. Those hard-learnt processes.
\”That proved it\’s sometimes the quality of animals you have, not the trainer. It\’s about having better dogs in your kennel.
\”I was given the opportunity, trusted to train Simon Told Helen.
\”I think we showed it\’s about some trainers getting that opportunity, and not necessarily who trains the greyhound, but the quality of the dog,\” he said.