Alex Nolan’s Albion Park wrap
Seven days was all it took for up-and-coming trainer Jedda Cutlack to supersede her own career highlight and join a prestigious club of trainers to win the Molly Campbell Silver Dollars Final, thanks to recent acquisition Showdown.
Cutlack enjoyed a much-publicised quinella when Showdown held off kennelmate Strategise to win a heat of the Molly Campbell, giving the young trainer her first Thursday night win at headquarters.
Showdown entered the final in Box 1 with Strategise drawn alongside in Box 2.
But it was the son of Sh Avatar (x Sawadee) that utilised the inside draw best, finding the front and holding off a fast-finishing Running Express to record an all-the-way (30.09sec) win.
Profit and personal glory aside, Cutlack said one of the most satisfying parts of Showdown’s feature victory came in the aftermath when Susie Harris presented her with a list of previous winners.
“There is some great names on there and it felt surreal to think my name was now alongside them,” Cutlack said.
Making the night more special was the fact that Susie Harris, the granddaughter of the race’s namesake, caught Showdown in the 25th edition.
Bred and raced by Peter and Sonia Davis and formerly trained by Amanda Ginn in Central West NSW, Showdown was transferred to Cutlack mid-year, along with littermates Shaye, Sunburst and Saloso.
Cutlack, who works for trainer Tom Tzouvelis, began training Showdown following his win in the Chief Minister’s Cup Heat under the guidance of Tzouvelis, beating home kennel stalwart Cooper Dooper in the process.
Showdown was hardly setting the world on fire prior to heading north but Cutlack doesn’t believe she has made any ground-breaking changes.
“His career started well and he had shown ability, but was just out of form in some of those recent runs prior to coming up,” Cutlack said.
“I don’t think we do anything differently. For some dogs a change of scenery can bring out the best in them.”
In speaking with Cutlack, it’s clear to tell her recent successes haven’t gone to her head.
She admitted she sometimes questions whether her good results are simply a direct result of her being associated with a larger kennel like Tzouvelis’.
However, with Tzouvelis last month recovering in hospital from a health scare and having travelled with the dogs prior to that, Cutlack was required to take charge of the operation.
On September 18 she laid claim to all three heats of the Ipswich Derby, one with Showdown and two for Tzouvelis in the shape of Strategise and Sleuth.
“When they’re going out and running PBs you think ‘I must be doing something right’,” she said.
From ‘hot chips and bread’ to earning a sustainable wage is how Matt Heilbronn has described the meteoric revival of greyhound racing over the past five years.
As he celebrates the biggest win in his training career to date in the G3 Townsville Cup with Dulceria, Heilbronn says nothing is off the table with his new kennel star, including this month’s Rising Stars Series at Albion Park.
The series, for greyhounds aged 30 months or younger, includes a Listed final with $27,250 in prizemoney up for grabs.
Already his highest prizemoney earner, Dulceria could be closing in on six digits by the time the October 28 final rolls around, having qualified for the Ipswich Futurity Final late last month.
Heilbronn and his father Des have experienced just about all the highs and lows greyhound racing can bring. The family bred Dulceria (Italian for Candy Store) and retained ownership.
Although Heilbronn has been openly confident about Dulceria’s potential, he admits there have been some nervous moments along the way.
The youngster was stood down after winning a heat of the Publican’s Cup when turning her head in the straight and sustaining a minor injury.
It left Heilbronn racing the clock to have her ready in time for Townsville.
“Everything was saying ‘No, no, no’,” Heilbronn said.
“Even Dad said to just forget about the trip. But I had accommodation booked and I go every year. We just backed ourselves and things worked out.
“When she won it felt like the pressure came off. Sometimes, the pressure of the industry can get to you. You question whether you’re good enough.
“It’s a long turnaround before you know whether you’ve done everything right and if you stuff up, it’s another three years until the next litter comes through.”
Heilbronn said the family had almost been lost to greyhound racing due to varying reasons and thanked Des for his continued support.
While he maintains there is still room for improvement at various levels throughout the industry, he has been buoyed by the progress made in recent years, including the abundance of riches on offer to young greyhounds in the state.
“Five years ago, if you didn’t have a Thursday night dog it wasn’t worth the effort,” he said.
“It’s feasible for participants to make a wage out of racing now and actually live. It’s not hot chips and bread for dinner anymore.”
As for Dulceria, Heilbronn predicts the best is yet to come and is confident she can produce another bold showing when the Rising Stars Series rolls around.
“She’d been flying under the radar until she won at Townsville,” he said.
“If she can keep running those quick early splits at Albion Park then she’ll be hard to beat in anything she races in.”
Albion Park punters entered September with confidence according to the team at TAB.
Although Monday night favourite backers enjoyed the most success, joining the queue 27 times from 56 races contested (48.2%), the stats on Thursdays at headquarters caught the eye.
Of the 47 races run and won, 43 winners started in single digits (91%), which was up on the July strike-rate of about 86%.
Just seven of those were sent around odds-on, with the majority (10) starting between $2 and $2.90.
In total, 19 favourites saluted on Thursdays at a strike-rate of 40.4%.
Maggie Moo Moo ($1.15) was the shortest priced Thursday winner when she took out the Queensland Distance Final on August 12.
The now Darren Taylor-trained In And Out provided the boilover of the month when finding the line first as a $51 shot on the same night.
Winning boxes were spread far more equitably throughout August, with Box 1 again enjoying the most success (9 wins), closely followed by Box 3 (8 wins).
The fastest time clocked on a Thursday over the 520m belonged to Farmor Beach when he took out the Queensland Championship Sprint Final in 29.64sec.
The Tony Brett trained Indictment laid claim to second, third and fourth-fastest times recorded over the 520m, with the fastest coming in the Publican’s Cup Final (29.69sec).