By MIKE HILL
A GIVEAWAY that just keeps on giving, Craig\’s Regret is poised to hand Gracemere-based trainer Dallas Beckett his first victory in the $20,600 Country Cup (520m) at Albion Park in early February.
Craig\’s Regret – a stunning winner of the regional qualifier over 510m at Rockhampton in January – is one of the most promising sprinters in country Queensland.
The black dog (SH Avatar-Sweet Shine), a well-supported $2.50 favourite, clocked a fast 30.11s in winning the Central Queensland final from kennelmate Qualified ($7) with super chaser Are Jay Lochie ($3) a courageous third.
Craig\’s Regret flew the boxes and quickly put space on his rivals, racing to a commanding five-length win.
The victory boosted his record to 19 wins and 17 minor placings from 43 starts – an amazing feat for a dog that was given away as a youngster.
Beckett said he was given the dog after Victorian owner-breeder Craig Davis experienced trouble breaking him in.
\”First they couldn\’t get the young dog out of the bull ring cage, then he wouldn\’t go around the bull ring and finally he just jumped out of the ring,\” the trainer said.
\”It was then that Craig offered me the dog.\”
Beckett admits he had to put plenty of work into the dog, but it has now paid off handsomely.
\”When he started to show something, I decided to name him Craig\’s Regret,\” he said. \”I have a feeling Craig may now be regretting giving him away.\”
This is the first time Beckett has made a serious assault on the $8400-to-the-winner Country Cup.
And with a double chance, he couldn\’t be happier.
He admitted that Craig\’s Regret was \’flying\’, particularly after he equalled the Bundaberg 460m track record (25.94s) in late December.
\”However, the box draw is going to be vitally important,\” Beckett said.
\”It\’s shaping up as a very interesting final.\”
He said he was never overconfident going into a race and the long break between the regional qualifiers and the Albion Park final was proving \’a bit tricky\’ for trainers.
\”Both my dogs begin well, although Craig\’s Regret is a bit better,\” the trainer said.
\”All the other runners in the final are top grade dogs … it\’s all up in the air until we see the box draw.
\”Albion Park is a tough track for dogs drawn wide.
\”It\’s very hard to win if you draw four or wider. I\’m hoping for an inside box for my pair.\”
In its fourth year, the feature has never been won by a Rockhampton greyhound, but Beckett is hoping to change all that at the Brisbane club\’s big finals meet on February 4. The night also includes the running of the $235,000 Group 1 Gold Bullion (520m) and the $113,000 Listed Gold Cup (710m).
To give his star sprinters the best chance, the Rocky trainer was planning to run both Craig\’s Regret and Qualified at an Albion Park meeting a week or so before the final.
\”It\’s a track they have to have a look at,\” Beckett said.
\”If you can get out quick and get on the bunny you\’re a big chance of winning.
\”My two begin well.\”
The trainer also said the first corner could be a bit tricky for runners new to the track.
He declared the Darren Taylor-trained sprinter Are Jay Lochie as his main danger in the final.
\”He\’s the class dog of the field, the one to beat,\” Beckett said.
\”He\’s won more than $100,000, has a good trainer and seems to be handling travel much better now.\”
Meanwhile, Taylor said he was very happy with his dog\’s progress.
\”He had a sweet gallop up the beach this morning and he loves his swims,\” the Bouldercombe-based trainer said.
\”Lochie had a hard run in the qualifier.
\”He got knocked about but he\’s back to his best.
\”I\’d love to draw box six, seven or eight\”
Ricky Hassall, who is chasing back-to-back Cup victories, also identified Are Jay Lochie as the runner to beat.
Hassall, winner of last year\’s feature with the talented Elegant Eleanor, has two runners in the final after he quinellaed the Bundaberg Wide Bay qualifier with Nerve Settler and Prince Cosmic.
\”It\’s a lovely opportunity to possibly win it again,\” he said.
Townsville trainer Rhonda Essery will have her second consecutive runner in the final after her consistent young sprinter Stratford won the North Queensland qualifier, beating the Michael Hickmott-trained Diva Valentine with Henry Parker\’s Sprightly Bro third.
Essery rugged up runner-up Naturally Gifted in last year\’s big final.
The Country Cup field (not in box order): Craig\’s Regret, Qualified, Nerve Settler, Prince Cosmic, Stratford, Diva Valentine, Are Jay Lochie, Sprightly Bro. Reserves: My Bro Beach, Ava Surprise.