By ANDREW THOMSON
BUCKLEY trainer Lisa Cockerell has been racing and breeding greyhounds for the best part of 20 years, but even she can be surprised.
Her kennel star Hebridean Black stopped the clock at a stunning 29.61 seconds, winning at The Meadows and even Cockerell had to have a second look at the time.
\”It was a bit exciting,\” she said from her home just west of Geelong.
\”I did get a surprise when I looked at the clock. During the run I got the feeling he was travelling.
\”(Husband) Ian was at the track and I was at home, but it was pretty exciting.
\”A couple of people sent me messages. That was nice.”
Hebridean Black proved that was no fluke by recording a 29.36 over Sandown’s 515m on October 7.
Cockerell explained that her 37 kilogram black chaser (Walk Hard-Arabella Figg) had always shown ability.
But, his current record stands at just eight wins and seven palcings from 34 starts, collecting just more than $45,000 in prizemoney.
He’s run 25.10 at Shepparton 25.10 and a slick 25.63 at Geelong, but on form there\’s a gap between his best and worst performances.
\”He\’s a good dog. He\’s got a motor. We\’ve known that from the start, but he\’s had soundness issues,\” she said.
\”Keeping him sound and repeating his best performances has been a test.\”
Cockerell said Hebridean Black had a green-stick fracture of his off front foot metacarpal.
\”He\’s had trouble with it his whole career,\” she said.
\”He broke in fast and we thought we had something, but he kept breaking down.
\”In the end we bit the bullet and had it scraped.\”
The black speedster had the best part of four months off the racetrack after having his runs well spread throughout his career.
\”There\’s been a lot of space between his runs. We would race, go back to the vet, race, back to the vet,\” she said.
\”It wasn\’t working. We seemed to be wasting his career so we decided to have it scraped.\”
The trainer said the scraping had caused a callous over the injury-prone area, instead of just relying on the bone healing naturally, which hadn\’t worked.
\”He\’s got a lump there now, but he\’s definitely lot better on it,” Cockerell said.
\”It was noticeable. He would pull up lame after every run. He wasn\’t running up to what he could because it was obviously sore all the time.\”
Cockerell said she bred Hebridean Black out of Arabella Figg (six wins and 24 placings), who was out of Finlandia (12 wins) from her original brood bitch Martha Spinco.
That bitch line goes back to the well-credentialled Treb Lass and Starfire Lady.
\”Everything we race we bred,\” she said.
\”Martha Spinco threw winners Polyjuice Potion, Finlandia, Bliksem, Tobaya and White Chocolate.
\”Arabella Figg wasn\’t the best chaser but I thought she would make the best brood bitch. We went to Walk Hard because he was such a good chaser.
\”There were some others in the litter that showed ability, but Hebridean Black was always the standout.
\”I\’m just hoping we\’ve got him right now. He won at Shepparton first run back in 25.10 and then won at The Meadows.
\”It always worries me sending him to the races. We have to manage him right.
\”He was underdone in that run at The Meadows. It was his first 500 metre run back.
\”I really don\’t know how good he could be. We\’ve just got to try to keep him sound and I suppose we\’ll find out.
\”He\’s definitely, definitely better on that foot now and working really well on it.
\”It helps he\’s a really happy dog, an absolute gentleman. My children handle him.\”
Cockerell said her star sprinter also could be a bit hit and miss at the boxes.
\”He\’s not 100 per cent trustworthy, but he\’s honest and he\’ll chase.\”
The trainer said she had three litters on the ground and was looking forward to racing pups by Bernado (10 months old), Fernando Bale (seven months) and Mepunga Blaze (two months).
Buckley is about 15 minutes from Waurn Ponds on the western edge of Geelong and Cockerell said she was on 40 hectares.
It’s handy to Geelong, one hour from Ballarat, two hours from Warrnambool and 90 minutes from The Meadows.
\”It\’s close enough and far enough away. We\’re on 100 acres and we don\’t have any close neighbours. It\’s a great spot,\” she said.
\”Now all we have to do is get Hebridean Black to produce his best a little bit more consistently.
\”That would be bliss. We would like that.”