Caption: Luke Mason, left, with Jeff Ahern and Donna Pezet and Burnt Ends after the promising chaser set a new 620m mark at the Casino (NSW) track (Photo: Lisa Vanderstok)
By DAVID BRASCH
WHEN Casino local Luke Mason goes looking to buy a greyhound pup he has one criteria for selection … he wants ‘the pretty one’.
And that\’s how Luke came up with a star race dog called Burnt Ends the son of Fernando Bale-Mitcharlie Mia, who is the Casino 620m track record holder, the third fastest ever over 600m at Albion Park, a Group 3 Golden Sands and Ipswich Young Guns finalist.
The red fawn dog, trained by one of the best in the business, Jeff Ahern, filled that one important criteria for Luke.
Burnt Ends was bought from Luke\’s childhood mate Mitch Northfield, one of a prime litter by champion sire Fernando Bale from Mitch\’s super race bitch Mitcharlie Mia.
Luke and Mitch had spent their childhood running around Casino dog track.
\”I\’m a self-funded retiree and have been back in Casino for a while now,\” said Luke. \”My old mate Steve Dransfield got me into dogs with another long-time friend Nev Creighton buying three pups out of Golden Earing from Frank Hancock\’s line.
\”None were much good, but it got us interested and Vibes Window did win a few races for us.
\”We have since put Ruby Redneck, a daughter of Paw Licking and Vibes Window, to Sennachie and they are just a few months old.\”
Another from that Paw Licking litter, Down Paw, was a shortcourse specialist.
\”We tried to give him away after he had won just $900 early in his career, but no one wanted him,\” said Luke. \”We kept him and in those 259 metre races at Lismore he eventually earned $21,000.\”
When Mitch Northfield ended up with 11 pups from her Mitcharlie Mia litter, he decided to put an asking price of $8000 on them.
His mate Luke Mason was interested, but baulked at the price. Nev Creighton was out.
\”That $8000 was more than I had ever spent on a greyhound,\” said Luke. He was not keen.
\”But, I headed to Grafton one night and I overheard Dave Irwin asking Mitch\’s sister Collette if Mitch had any of those pups left,\” he said. Irwin then made the statement that $8000 for pups from the litter was far too cheap, they should have been $15,000.
\”That was the night I decided to buy one.\”
Mitch had already sold some to New Zealand and had decided to keep the bitch he would name Kooringa Lucy.
\”I headed out to Mitch\’s one day after the Casino races to pick out a dog pup,\” said Luke. \”On my way out of Casino that afternoon, I was talking to Greg Cannon. He insisted I take a dog from the litter. The Fernando boys are the best.
\”There were three dogs left, two blacks and a red fawn. I wanted the pretty one and that\’s how I came up with Burnt Ends.\”
Laurie Meteyard reared him and by the time Burnt Ends was ready to be educated the locals had all fronted Luke to take on his training.
\”Jeff Ahern is a friend and he had bought Steve Dransfield\’s home in Casino,\” Luke said, before adding with a laugh. \”Jeff\’s good company and he was not backward in telling how good he was as a trainer.\”
Luke, in retirement, spends most days out at Casino helping out around the track and in the office. He spent 39 years working with Australia Post, but also as a bookies clerk at Port Macquarie and then on the rails in Sydney. He knows racing. His father used to take him greyhound racing at Casino when he was seven.
Burnt Ends, to time of writing, has won 14 and earned almost $50,000.
Luke acknowledges he is living on cloud nine, especially since Burnt Ends has stepped up to 600m racing and become a star. At just 28.6kgs he needs to be away from the knockaround effect of sprint racing.
Nev Creighton has since got the greyhound racing bug again and he and Luke share in a Zambora Brockie-Mitcharlie Mia pup. \”Mitch put the squeeze on me and Nev came in as well,\” said Luke.
The Sennachie-Ruby Redneck litter is being reared at Nev\’s property. \”And, he\’s doing a terrific job,\” said Luke.
Nev and Luke share in the ownership of Mercy Dash (Ando\’s Mac-Kingsbrae Missy) who is also a very smart youngster and started favourite in a heat of the Pop Northfield Maiden only to be swamped by Sentenced who has since gone on to win the Qld Derby and run 29.63 at Albion Park.
These days Luke and Jeff Ahern are hoping Burnt Ends came make it at the top level over 700m.
The ‘pretty boy’ of greyhound racing has been a wonder for Luke Mason.