Caption: Successful trainer Darren Russell with Racing Queensland Board member Dale Cartwright after Deck Fifty Two’s victory in the Group 3 National Straight Track Championship (Photo: Just Greyhound Photos).
Capalaba Club wrap with Alex Nolan
YOU couldn’t say the love hasn’t been spread around evenly at Capalaba throughout January.
At the time of writing, of the 40 races run down the straight in 2022, 30 individual trainers had enjoyed wins.
Before publication, John Catton was joined by Bianca Whitford, Cecil Druery and Ray Burman at the top of the list with three winners each, followed by Kerry Perrett and Jeff Crawford on two apiece.
A further 24 trainers had at least one winner in that time, with the notable omission being 2021 premier trainer Terry Priest, who finished the year with 65 straight-track wins.
To this point, Priest had boxed 16 runners for just four minor placings, but may have rectified that situation by the time this paper hits the streets.
Kismet Storm, who we’ll learn more about further down the page, was unbeaten in three runs this year and has now extended his picket fence to five straight wins since joining the Whitford kennel.
Champagne Jazzy also recorded successive wins for the first time since October last year, taking her career record to 10 wins from 30 starts and more than $30,000 in prizemoney.
ALL HANDS ON-DECK FOR NATIONAL FINAL
A HEALTHY crowd cheered home a Queensland quinella in December’s much-anticipated Group 3 National Straight Track Championship, which was taken out by the Darren Russell-trained Deck Fifty Two.
More than 350 punters were trackside to witness the feature race, which had twice been put on ice due to COVID-19 border restrictions.
And the locals didn’t leave disappointed when Deck Fifty Two, a son of Barcia Bale, stormed to the lead and held off a brave Impact for trainer Kevin Ellis and New South Wales visitor Olsen Street in 19.60 seconds.
The feature win completed a run of three consecutive Capalaba victories and took his lifetime record up the straight to seven wins from 13 starts and four minor placings.
Part-owner Noel Noon, who races Deck Fifty Two in conjunction with Lawrence Meteyard, maintains the win gave him his greatest thrill in racing after decades of involvement in the sport.
“My wife said she had never seen me so excited,” Noon, who had just retired from 25 years of service on the Brisbane wharves told Chase.
“That’s the biggest race I’ve won and I’ve been involved with greyhounds since the 1980s.”
Noon was full of praise for Russell.
“Darren has done a terrific job and he places them so well. I can’t speak highly enough of him,” Noon said.
Russell had earlier indicated that Deck Fifty Two was being set to return to racing around bends after the series.
He returned to Ipswich with flying colours on December 28, winning a Mixed Fourth and Fifth Grade heat over 431m by 15 lengths in a blistering 24.60 seconds, the fifth fastest time recorded at the track and trip.
“I couldn’t believe the time he ran,” Noon said.
STORM BREWING AT CAPALABA
KISMET Storm has found a new lease on life in the Sunshine State.
The former Victorian galloper made it a perfect two-from-two start to his Queensland career when he won December’s Tommy Hoyland Memorial Final for trainer Bianca Whitford.
Coominya-based Whitford and partner Chris Johnson made it successive wins in the Tommy Hoyland after earlier success in 2020 with kennel pin-up Ninetymile King.
Kismet Storm found himself at the Whitford yard after his Victorian-based owner Melissa Mayle thought a change of scenery could re-ignite his racing career.
Kismet Storm was a greyhound lacking confidence before heading north after multiple injuries when racing on the circle.
“We basically just took things back to basics and let him be a dog,” Whitford told Chase.
“He is an internal, stressful dog and when he arrived he was anxious for the first couple of days, but we let him find his groove and within no time he was relaxed, chilled and happy. He came to hand very quickly.”
Whitford knew she had a serious greyhound when Kismet Storm trialled out of the boxes in 19.44s at his second look at Capalaba.
He ran 19.45s to win the Tommy Hoyland, 0.15s quicker than the National Straight Track Championship final run on the same day.
“The scary part is that I think he has more improvement to come,” Whitford said.
“I’m not sure where his ceiling is. Normally it takes dogs six to eight looks to start hitting their straps at Capalaba and I think with a few more looks he’s got even better in him.”
Whitford said the plan initially was to restrict Kismet Storm to racing up the straight, before heading for trials around the bend.
Whitford paid tribute to Kismet Storm’s owner, Mayle, who also raced the recently retired Kuro Kismet, winner of the 2021 Launching Pad Series.
“Since meeting Mel and striking up a friendship with her, I’ve seen the way she looks after her dogs and it is fantastic … from racing through to retirement. It’s great to have owners who go the extra mile for their greyhounds,” she said.
Kismet Storm’s win in the Tommy Hoyland took his career record to seven wins from 28 starts but he was only just getting started.
At the time of writing, Kismet Storm had just recorded his fifth-straight win up the straight, taking his career record to 10 wins from 31 starts and just shy of $40,000 prizemoney.
Whitford and Johnson made headlines last year after nursing Ninetymile King back from injury to win a heat of the inaugural Queensland Flame, before he ran a brave fourth in the final.
CAPALABA PERFECT FOR EXCITING PUPS
CAPALABA is the ideal place for young greyhounds to start their blossoming careers, according to trainer Christine Bourke, who has presented three exciting pups at the track in recent months.
The trio by Bekim Bale out of Bourke’s retired race bitch High Class Belle have hit the ground running.
Shot The Sheriff, Beck And Call and Don’t Tell Helen all enjoyed winning debuts down the straight, with Shot The Sheriff winning a Maiden on November 14 to hand Bourke her first winner as a trainer in almost 18 months.
“I hadn’t had any race since (High Class Belle’s) litter was retired,” Bourke said.
“We’d just been waiting for her to come on season and I’m not getting any younger, so wasn’t looking for any to train.”
Bourke bred the nine-strong litter in partnership with North Ipswich trainer Greg Mellen.
She kept four at her Ebenezer property, with the remaining five to be trained by Mellen.
The line goes back to the now 12-year-old Pinata Belle who, along with High Class Belle, remains at Bourke’s place to this day.
The litter was whelped in May 2020 and it wasn’t long before Bourke realised she had some smart pups on her hands.
“I broke them in and knew from day one that they had ability,” Bourke said.
“We always felt the mother was going to be a good broodbitch, so Greg spoke to me and asked if I’d be interested in going halves in a litter.
“David Brasch wrote the breeding report for us and he came up with Bekim Bale. I know he wasn’t a terribly popular sire, but he matched everything she had in her.”
At the time of writing, Shot The Sheriff had recorded six wins from eight starts at Capalaba, with his only defeats coming in the Tommy Hoyland Memorial behind rising star Kismet Storm.
Beck And Call made people sit up and take notice when he recorded a 19.68s winning debut, before suffering a hairline fracture at his second start.
“He was fine and will be back on the track in a few weeks,” Bourke said.
Don’t Tell Helen then won her debut run by more than 10 lengths, before winning in 19.86s at her second start.
“Helen is a nice little girl,” she said. “She’s not as fast as the other dogs but she’ll pay her way.”
Shot The Sheriff and Beck And Call weigh in at about 38.5kg, while Don’t Tell Helen tips the scales at close to 37kg.
At the time of writing, all three had trialled satisfactorily around the bend, but Bourke was in no rush to take them away from Capalaba.
“They haven’t had a lot of circle experience, but have had a few trials at Albion Park,” she said.
“They’ve still got a lot of learning to do, but I don’t think they’ll get much bigger.”
Bourke’s love of greyhounds was sparked by her late husband Bruce, a trainer in his own right.
“He was always into the greyhounds but I wasn’t very interested,” Bourke said.
“One day he came into the shop where I was working and he told me he bought a pup and that was the start of it.”
One pup turned into two, which turned into three and so forth.
At one point the couple housed a large kennel of greyhounds, which is now limited to four.
“The love of the greyhound gets me out of bed in the morning, but I’m not very mobile at the moment as I’ve got to have a hip replacement,” Bourke said.
“I do it mostly by myself, but the kids all hop in and help from time to time.”
Bourke has raced greyhounds at Capalaba for many years and has enjoyed watching the rise of the club after years of toil.
“We’ve always done a lot of racing at Capalaba and they’re a great club,” she said.
“They have done a lot of hard work.
“It has certainly gone ahead from the old days when we raced for $300!”
PERFECT TEN FOR TIPSTERS
HE ONCE famously said ‘life is great in the Sunshine State’, but it was a case of ‘beautiful one day, perfect the next’ for race caller Terry Spargo and two tipsters at Capalaba in late December.
Spargo, Chris Bassani and the Capalaba Late Mail Man ‘JP’ saw out 2021 with one of the more remarkable tipping performances of the year when they selected all 10 winners on the 10-race card on December 30.
A $1 fixed price all-up on the 10 selections using UTAB Fixed Odds would have netted $56.95.
All 10 favourites saluted on the programme, with seven starting at odds-on.
The longest-priced winner came via Polly’s Jester in race one, who was sent out at $2.50.