Caption: Dustin Drew with Untapped after winning the 2022 Sandown Cup. Drew gives credit for the win to the knowledge he picked up from Kilty Express, who won the 2016 Maturity.
Group 1 Maturity (525m)
Greyhounds whelped on or after 1-1-2020.
Heats July 16. Final July 23.
$100,000 to the winner.
Group 3 The Fireball (730m)
Heats July 16. Final July 23.
$25,000 to the winner.
By DAVID BRASCH
WHEN Dustin Drew looks back at the recent victory of his family’s star stayer Untapped in the Group 1 Sandown Cup, he is quick to give credit where credit is due.
And that rests with a dog called Kilty Express, the 2016 winner of the Group 1 Maturity.
Dustin reckons that initial Group 1 win laid the foundation for him and his family to step into the big time.
Kilty Express, a son of Kilty Lad-Bogie Jewel, won the Maturity to give Ray Drew and his son Dustin, always a training partnership, and owners Gary Robb, Tim Robins and Dave Walmsley their night of nights.
“Dad and I trained together,” Dustin said of his father Ray who died in October last year.
“While that first Group 1 victory gave our family a wonderful thrill, it also taught me and my sister Amy, now training with me, all about being in the big time of greyhound racing.
“Kilty Express gave Amy and me the grounding to prepare Group dogs.”
And what a grounding.
A quick rundown the list of recent winners of the Maturity shows the importance the glamour race has achieved.
With winning prizemoney these days of $100,000 it was always going to attract the best.
Consider the greats on the honour roll – legends like Brett Lee and Fernando Bale, stars like Hallucinate, El Grand Senor, Mepunga Hayley, Mepunga Blazer, Dyna Patty, Sennachie, Simon Told Helen and Qwara Bale.
Kilty Express stands out, not because he was a superstar, but because he gave a close-knit family and their new-found owners a spot in the limelight.
“Brett and Kelly Bravo had him as a pup,” Dustin said. “He’d won a race or two but we were asked to train him for Gary, Tim and Dave.
“The dog was paid up for the Warrnambool Classic.
“We gave him some time off, brought him back and he had improved out of sight. He won heat and semi of the Classic and started favourite for the final.”
He finished fourth behind Angela Langton’s One For Me.
“That spell was the making of the dog,” Dustin said.
“We kept him going for the Maturity and he finished second in both heat and semi-final, then wore down Shima Song to win the final.
“We picked up a tip from Graham Bate prior to him going into the Maturity. Graham would often take good dogs to the country for low grade races to get their confidence just before putting them in big races.
“That’s what we did with Kilty Express and it worked. He won the Maturity.”
Dustin admits he and his father slipped up after winning the Maturity.
“While racing in and winning the Group 1 taught us all about preparing dogs for big races, we made the mistake of protecting Kilty Express from that moment on,” he said.
“We should have just raced him instead of being soft on him.
“He was a couple of lengths off being a real star. It was a real lesson learned.”
Kilty Express raced 72 times for 19 wins and 23 placings, earning $174,000.
He is living the life of a pet with his owner Gary.
“Kilty Express taught Amy and me all about peaking dogs at the right time for major races,” Dustin said. “We like to think this has helped with Untapped.”
Dustin believes there is more to be learned from training better class dogs than those of lesser quality.
“But winning the Maturity was a huge thrill for all of us,” he said. “A race like that is something. The prestige it brings. It has such a rich tradition and has been a great race for such a long, long time.
“That Maturity win is something we will have forever.
“When Dad died, my sister Amy went straight out and got herself a trainer’s licence.
“Our training is a family affair and that’s also what makes it special.”