Caption: 20-year-old rookie trainer Joshua Priest celebrates his first win with his first starter as a trainer – Samona at Albion Park in mid-November (Photo: Box 1 Photography)
ALBION PARK NEWS with ALEX NOLAN
You’d be hard-pressed to find a trainer, owner or breeder that doesn’t remember their first winner.
So, what is it like to celebrate your maiden triumph in 2021?
Besides the messages and calls of support from family, pats on the back from your friends at the track and heightened social media attention, there’s also swathes of media lighting up your phone.
“I’ve been on the phone non-stop,” laughed 20-year-old Joshua Priest, who last month fulfilled a lifelong dream when he trained his first winner with his first starter.
The race was a 5th Grade (520m) at Albion Park on Monday, November 15.
The greyhound was Samona, a black bitch by Ritza Lenny (x It’s A Synch) who notched her fourth career victory with a classy 30.05sec performance.
Formerly in the official care of his father Terry, Samona saved her best racetrack effort for Joshua’s special night. She crossed from Box 7 to challenge for the lead heading to the first turn, before she burst clear down the back to win by six-and-a-half lengths.
Although it provided Joshua with his first win it was certainly not his first rodeo.
The young trainer has been around greyhounds since the day he was born.
He secured his handler’s licence in 2016 and has since boxed more than 130 winners, which includes a handful of Group race victories.
Asked whether his maiden win was the biggest thrill he’d had in the sport, the answer was straightforward.
“By far,” he said.
“(It) made all those short sleeps (and) long days of hard work all worth it.
“A long, long time I’ve dreamt of that day and for it to happen like that just made me love what I do (even more).”
Which greyhound trainer recently won enough on the punt to purchase a new transport van for their dogs?
Said trainer placed a $100 five-leg multi bet at the Albion Park meeting on Wednesday, November 3, and the result was something to behold.
When Rio Valour ($2.21), Bogie Millie ($3.50), Crown Armani ($8.28) and Sweet Gig ($3.39) won races 1, 2, 4 and 5 respectively, it must have been a nerve-racking wait until the last leg in Race 12, which relied on the aptly named Pay Roll ($2.25).
When the last leg duly saluted the trainer collected a handy $48,850.93 and had a new set of wheels just days later.
You could have forgiven the same trainer for throwing in the punting towel just a day earlier.
They stood to collect more than $8000 from a four-leg multi that featured three greyhounds at Ipswich (all of which won) and ended with Incentivise to win the Melbourne Cup.
We all know what happened there.
The moral of the story? Stick to the greyhounds and everything will be OK.
GREYHOUNDS REALLY DO PAY!
Speaking of the punt, the strong performance of the code in Queensland saw prizemoney increased to staggering new levels in November.
When Racing Queensland announced $4.6 million in additional funding for the code, including $3 million in general prizemoney increases, it got us thinking about how far the industry has come in five years.
Prizemoney expenditure has more than doubled since the 2016-17 financial year when $12.2 million was distributed to greyhound participants.
In 2020-21 that figure had risen to $25 million and following last month’s increase it will nudge $30 million this financial year.
BGRC CEO Luke Gatehouse provided some food for thought when the announcement was made.
“When I started at the Brisbane Greyhound Racing Club I think our richest race was worth around $80,000 … very soon it will be $525,000.”
EXTRA MALT LIGHTS UP SOCIAL MEDIA
Hundreds of greyhound races are run and won across the country each week without fanfare.
But every now and then, one captures the imagination of punters and the sporting public.
That was the case when the Leanne Hall trained Extra Malt won a Mixed 3/4 Grade affair over 520m at Albion Park on October 28.
Described as the ‘run of the year’ by caller John Brasch, Extra Malt’s last-to-first victory almost broke the internet.
Traditional news and sports outlets were quick to highlight the incredible win.
Fox Sports Australia picked up the vision and by 2pm the following day their video alone had been viewed more than 85,000 times. At last check that number had risen to 125,000.
The win was Extra Malt’s 20th in a career spanning 39 starts and it took her career prizemoney over the $128,000 mark.
Graham Hall earlier told Chase Newspaper Extra Malt (Paw Licking x It Gets Better) and litter-sister Spotted Elk were the best bitches he and wife Leanne had ever had.
Spotted Elk had been making headlines as a new cult figure for the sport in the months prior.
Both bitches qualified for the Ipswich Cup Final with ‘The Elk’ running a brave second.
At the time of writing Extra Malt had just recorded a dominant 8.5L win over the 600m at Albion Park in a personal best 34.63secs.
MCILVEEN’S RISING STAR
Family-owned Sunshine Delight scraped into October’s Rising Stars Final by the skin of his teeth, but proved too good for his more credentialed rivals.
Sunshine Delight, whose career earnings now exceed $50,000, qualified with a somewhat luckless second in his heat behind the Jedda Cutlack trained Showdown.
Despite showing brilliant early dash from Box 7, Sunshine Delight was checked exiting the straight and was forced to sit just off the pace throughout.
He made late ground sounding the alarm for a bold showing in the final, should he draw a box.
After coming up with the red rug in the final, the Paul McIlveen trained youngster was heavily supported in early markets and the money proved to be spot on.
Sunshine Delight jumped best and was able to hold out Pixie My love from out wide to find the front.
Hearts Colliding made a race of it in the run home, but Sunshine Delight hung tough to win the $17,500 cheque for first.
Sunshine Delight was then brave in defeat in a heat of the G2 Ipswich Gold Cup when running second behind Spotted Elk.