By Chase Editor Pat McLeod
Veteran South-East Queensland trainer Kevin Ellis was never meant for the Diplomatic Corp. He calls a spade a shovel and his opinions are highly respected.
So as the back-slappers descended soon after his race favourite Impact ($1.60) stormed to victory in the recent Queensland straight track classic, the Group 3 Capalaba Cup, Ellis had some words of advice for those who listened.
“If a dog can’t chase up a straight, they are no good to me,” Ellis said.
“That win was enormous. A group race is a group race, but to win here at Capalaba, well that win is enormous.
“People just don’t use the straight track as much as they should.”
Based at Burpengary, just north of Brisbane, Ellis is back in an industry in which he was a major player a couple of decades ago.
Since back, he is eyeing the changes with interest. One of the more significant, in his opinion, is the lack of emphasis many modern trainers put on the use of the straight track.
“Old blokes like me educate our dogs chasing up the straight,” he said.
“Now, like everything in society, things get turned on their head. The world is not what it used to be.
“Since I have come back the dogs are different to when I was last in the game. They are faster, but they are weaker. They also appear more timid and don’t seem to want to chase as hard.
“People might not agree with me, but I believe they need to be educated up the straight track.”
During his first stint in greyhounds, about 25 years, through the ‘80s and ‘90s Ellis said there was no shortage of straight tracks in the region. Most no longer operate, even as training facilities.
Ellis comments come at a time when ironically the push, from an animal welfare perspective, is for more straight track racing.
In the lead-up to the Capalaba Cup, club president John Catton forecast a pending boom in straight track racing, even suggesting a Group One Capalaba Cup under lights.
‘Put up the money and they will come’, is his mantra.
Many within the industry would have rolled their eyes at his comments. One person, who didn’t was leviathan greyhound participant Steve Williams, who just happens to own Impact.
“Straight track racing, in time, will be much bigger than it is at the moment,” Williams said.
“I have no doubt if the money was on offer there would be a lot more of this type of racing. Today was good … great!”
Since winning at Capalaba, Impact also won his next start, at Ipswich, taking his run to eight wins in a row for a 25: 17-1-1 record and $85,490 in prizemoney.
In the $35,500 Cup final Impact found a way to get past Deck Fifty Two (Darren Russell – $26) with Ready To Rubble (Warren Nicholls – $61) third.
Ellis says his Fabregas-Velocity Willow chaser is finally maturing from a ‘nutcase’ to something that has the potential to win a big race.
“He has always been able to gallop, but he was a nutcase,” Ellis said, with only half a smile.
“When I first had him, he was a maniac. Once a week I would say ‘he has got to go back’. But then, once you start mucking around with them, ability starts to over-ride stupidity.
“it really isn’t anything that I do with the dog. That’s not how it works. It’s just like a silly young boy. Sometimes they mature … and sometimes they don’t.
“As I said to Steve (Williams) right from when I first had this dog, ‘If he ever settles down, there is a good race with his name on it’.
“The last four or five runs he has started to mature. He has changed, matured. He now has more track sense.”
Williams agrees. He has plenty of faith in Ellis.
“Kevin is at the top of the tree as far as trainers go,” he says.
“He is right up there with the Tony Brett’s of the industry. He leaves no stone unturned to get the best out of the dog.”
Darren Taylor (Deck Fifty Two) had fleeting hopes until Impact closed the deal with a storming finish.
“With 30 to go I thought I was still a chance,” Taylor said after the Cup.
“But he (Impact) just ran away with it over the last 20 yards.
“I will take him (Deck Fifty Two) back to the circle and maybe aim for an Ipswich Cup.”