Damien’s star on the rise in WA

\"\"Caption: Trainer Damien Crudeli (left) celebrates with family at the Winter Cup presentation.

James Broadhurst’s West Australian roundup

AS Damien Crudeli walked back to the kennels following the victory of Jackson County in the recent Winter Cup at Cannington he was joined by his brother, Graham, who joked that “even the B-team” was winning trophies.

It was a funny line, the sort that gets thrown around in good-natured banter between siblings, but it also highlighted an obvious fact: Damien Crudeli’s star is on the rise.

The Crudelis are arguably the most successful family in WA greyhound racing.

In recent years Graham and his father Enzo have transformed their formerly small-scale kennel into one of the state’s powerhouse operations.

They’ve captured numerous Group races and their dogs are frequent visitors to the winner’s circle.

Damien had been part of the ‘Team Crudeli’ set-up before breaking off to create his own kennel in 2019.

His strategy has been to mainly target lower and mid-tier races, with a focus on giving a second chance to handy cast-offs and otherwise talented dogs that, for whatever reason, had not clicked with their previous trainers.

It’s a formula that has paid off big time.

Crudeli was second on the Mandurah trainer’s list last year and the wins have flowed at both Cannington and Mandurah.

Jackson County has been his top performer.

The durable and consistent chaser has been the flag-bearer for the kennel with regular city wins.

In the period between his arrival at the kennel in July 2020 and February this year Jackson Country enjoyed a golden run where he raced on 23 occasions and finished no worse than fourth, including eight wins.

So it was fitting that the greyhound gave Crudeli his first piece of silverware as a trainer when the pair combined to take out the Winter Cup (520m) at Cannington at the start of June.

The handy black chaser took full advantage of the opportunity to enter the trophy decider as a reserve following the withdrawal of star speedster Sunset Spitfire.

From box eight Jackson County stunned the opposition with surprising early quickness when he fired out and crossed to the lead ahead of Wise Thunder.

Once he hit the front Jackson County, a noted strong finisher, was always going to be hard to beat and he didn’t give his rivals a look in.

He increased his margin and crossed the finish line nearly five lengths ahead of Wise Thunder in 29.88.

“(Box 8) is where he wants to be. He likes to go around dogs, he likes to run about mid-track,” said Crudeli.

“If he gets on the arm though he does tend to switch closer to the rail.

“His run home time over the 520m is usually 11.20s, 11.30s – tonight it was 11.42 which shows the track was pretty heavy and he still managed to kick away from them.

“He’s been a fantastic racedog for us. To win our first feature race is pretty exciting but to win it with him is even better.”

Our Seabrook’s Oaks double

OUR Seabrook showed plenty of determination in difficult conditions to take out the recent Group 2 WA Oaks (520m) at Cannington.

The classy white and black chaser from Chris Halse’s kennels claimed a narrow victory to become only the third greyhound to complete the Mandurah Oaks-WA Oaks double.

The track was drenched with a heavy downpour just prior to the race, but the wet conditions didn’t faze Our Seabrook as she jumped to the lead at box rise.

She established a handy break down the back stretch before the race tightened up in the home straight.

Got The Sugar and Sunset Piper pressed up on either side of her in the final strides but Our Seabrook had just enough left in the tank to hold on and score by a head in 30.78.

“She really put in,” Our Seabrook’s handler Luke Townsend said after the race.

“She really digs deep and wants to win. It’s a good trait to have.

“She’s always shown ability but she’s really gone to another level in the past month or so.”

Our Seabrook shares her name with a racehorse that Halse’s partner Linda Britton had part ownership in.

Briton was, of course, the listed trainer for most of the Halse/Britton kennel’s long and successful history.

The thoroughbred version of Our Seabrook was pretty handy and won a Group 2 race (the Sweet Embrace Stakes at Randwick) – an achievement that the canine namesake has now matched.

Our Seabrook joined Billy’s Echo (1997) and Deutromium (2012) as the only dual Mandurah Oaks-WA Oaks winners.

Manzu wins WA Derby

Margaret Hepple captured her first Group race following a super impressive performance from Manzu in the Group 2 WA Derby (520m) at Cannington.

Domino Mac began superbly to lead the race early but he was quickly challenged by Manzu.

After jumping to his right out of the boxes Manzu quickly ‘course-corrected’ and cut inwardd to land on Domino Mac’s tail.

Manzu rode some interference at the first turn which saw three dogs fall and continued his pursuit of the leader into the back straight.

He pushed past Domino Mac halfway down the stretch and then immediately had to contend with a challenge from the race favourite Stout Monelli.

With a rails run and booming finish in his arsenal, Stout Monelli loomed ominously as he pushed up into second place at the final turn.

However, Manzu was up to the task.

Stout Monelli couldn’t make any inroads to the lead and Manzu held firm to score by a length and half in 29.70.

Apart from delivering overdue Group race success the victory was a triumph for Margaret and Peter Hepple’s breeding program.

The Hepple-bred Manzu is out of a Vanderworp-Legit Boss matching.

“When you’ve bred them yourself it’s extra special,” said Peter.

“To have had the dog as a pup and to now see him at the racetrack is exciting.”

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