Goulburn Cup puts Karina in spotlight

\"\"Caption: Karina Britton with her owners and family after Wow and Ad Astra ran the quinella in the Goulburn Cup (Photo: Lance Fearne)

 

By Gary Clark

It promised so much as one of the best Cup fields in recent decades was formulated in late October for the Goulburn Cup and it produced a special moment for one lady trainer.

At the age of 35, Karina Britton achieved the highlight of her career when not only did she qualify her only two dogs in the kennel for the final, but collected the quinella.

In wet conditions, the track was in remarkable order and times on the day were that of a dry, fast track, with the Britton pair recording times that were hard to comprehend.

The perfectly boxed and inexperienced, Ad Astra (box 8), started a heavily-backed favourite and fired out to cross and lead while his litter brother, Wow, was quickly through to second and on the back of the leader into the first turn.

With the kennel mates turning the home corner as one, Wow railed up and took the front over Ad Astra, who stayed with him right to the line, but it was Wow who claimed the $25,000 first prize.

In amazing stats, Ad Astra smashed both the section records, which he broke just two weeks earlier, running, 5.43 and 10.69 and the overall race time of 24.33, was just outside Got To Casino’s time standard set in the heats at 24.29.

To think Ad Astra was running these times on a wet track and nearly broke the track record … and was beaten … is amazing in itself. But for that dog to be run him down, shows just how incredible Wow’s performance was.

For Karina it was a day of high emotion. At the presentation she spoke of mum, Christine, and her late stepfather, Ron Field, who passed away in 2018 with cancer and was a major part in Karina’s success on the day.

As tears began to build, Karina knew how much this would have meant to him: “Ron was going to train the dog before he got sick, so he gave him to me.”

Karina also lost her brother, Michael, in 2014 at the age of 38 to a sudden illness, just as he was getting involved with greyhounds.

Ron was good friends with Wayne Hunter. They both decided to breed with Miss All Class. The bitch was sent to Fernando Bale and a litter of seven resulted.

Ron kept three, including Wow and Ad Astra, while Wayne kept the other four, which included Whitfield and Xerri, who was runner-up in the Million Dollar Chase Final at Wentworth Park last month.

“I named him Wow because of a friend of mine who always describes many things as Wow,” Karina explained.

Karina had planed to nominate Ad Astra for the cup, but was not strongly considering Wow and it was only a last minute decision to include him.

“I knew he needed at least a couple of runs at a track before he is comfortable, so I had to trial him on the Friday before the heats and he flew. Then ran a length’s second in the heat where he probably felt his way around.”

The third run in the final was very timely.

“When he gets to a part of the track he normally stays there and off the one box in the final he railed superbly.”

The story of Ad Astra is an indication of Karina’s skills. The dog broke down after just two unbeaten runs late last year.

“I knew what he had and I had to have all the patience to get him back. He kept pulling up lame in trials.”

It took nine months, but finally Ad Astra returned, and has shown what he is capable of, five wins from seven starts.

Karina has been involved in greyhound racing for about 10 years and did take a short break before coming back. What she has learned is clearly visible now and Group success is not far away.

For the runner-up Ad Astra, he is raced by Ron’s daughter, Chantelle’s, husband, Nathan. His brother, Anthony and the grandchildren, Matilda and Shane were all trackside as seen in the presentation photo.

Third place in the cup went to Rapallo, who was just over three lengths away, while the outstanding young dog, Got To Casino, had trouble at the start, after breaking the track record in the heat.

For Wow the Gosford Cup in December is a likely target, but Karina would also like to see him in Victoria.

“I would have to be very careful who I sent him to if I decided to go south,” said Karina.

“He may fret. Both dogs spend a lot of cosy time with me and enjoy their walks through the bush of a day. They’re both part of the family.

“These dogs make me look good.”

 

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