By ALEX NOLAN
EVEN if Columbian King doesn’t return to his throne at Capalaba his legacy will live on.
As of mid-January, the reigning Con Sciacca Capalaba Cup champion and 23-time straight track winner hadn’t been seen publicly since October following a frustrating run of injuries.
A reoccurring back muscle injury coupled with other niggles forced trainer Jamie Hosking to take a cautious approach to his comeback.
Columbian King was slated for a return at a Sunday meeting at Albion Park in early January but was withdrawn.
“There were just a couple of niggles and I decided it would be better to give him a couple of trials to make sure he was okay,” Hosking said.
“The plan is to get him back to Capalaba, but he has suffered a couple of injuries up there.
“We’ve decided to trial him around the circle and there’s a fair chance he’ll start at Albion Park to strengthen him up before going back.”
With more than $83,000 in the bank and a strike-rate of 70% over the 366m, there’s no doubt ‘Pablo’, as he’s affectionately known, will be remembered as one of the most consistent greyhounds to grace Capalaba.
“He’s not finished but he’s probably on borrowed time,” Hosking said, following Columbian King’s Albion Park trial on January 18.
“He’s had one slip trial at Capalaba this prep and has gone as good as he ever does.
“He still loves to race and … for a while there he developed a cult following up the straight, but all good things can’t last forever and they’re not machines, unfortunately.”
That may be true, but for a period in 2020 the greyhound dubbed the ‘King of Capalaba’ displayed machine-like qualities, when he racked up victories in the Grand Prix, Derby, Queensland Straight Track Championship and Capelbourne Cup.
His crowning moment came in 2021 when he romped home to win the Capalaba Cup in 19.55 seconds, drawing high praise from some of Capalaba’s longest serving members.
Bob Patching, the man dubbed ‘Mr Capalaba’, last year told Chase that Columbian King was the most consistent chaser he’d seen in over 40 years of watching races there.
Hosking revealed it wasn’t intended to be that way in the early days.
Columbian King debuted at Ipswich then bounced between Capalaba and Albion Park until breaking his Maiden up the straight on April 26, 2020.
Two starts later he won his Novice on a Thursday night in town and all looked set for a long and prosperous career at ‘The Creek’.
“But because he was so good up the straight we rarely took him back to the circle because there was no need … it’s amazing to think he’s won close to $90,000 racing up a straight track,” Hosking said.
There are still plenty of racing options for Columbian King on the horizon, with his litter soon eligible to contest Masters events.
“He may be able to pick off some easier races without as much speed over the shorts,” Hosking said, before noting Columbian King would commence stud duties post-racing.
“He’ll be at home and while he may not be commercial, I have the idea of putting him over some bitches.
“I’ve got a little bitch called Junk Yard Kylie who had her career cut short. She’s by Kinloch Brae so the cross may or may not work.”
Fans of Columbian King will however be excited to know that a repeat mating (Dyna Double One and Pauls Memory) look set to debut up the straight shortly.
Hosking, Racing Queensland’s 2019 Young Achiever award recipient, said it was no secret that Capalaba was an ideal place to kick-start young racing careers.
“It’s a bloody great place,” he declared.
“When they’re just starting out, it doesn’t matter if they win but as long as they go up the straight and have fun then, hopefully, they can develop a positive attitude towards racing for the rest of their careers.
“For Columbian King, we knew he had ability, but he was going into (circle) races all guns ablaze and was wiping himself out trying to cross to the fence early.
“If they’re not quite race ready, you go to Capalaba and it tends to straighten them out as you’re not going to a corner half-a-step behind.”
The former Northern Territorian said there was no better place to race than in Queensland.
“Especially with the increases in prizemoney and everything else going on,” he said.
“Sometimes when you’re not racing and are constantly on the road heading to trials it can feel like hard work, but we’re rewarded for it with the prizemoney levels.”