Caption: Trainer Robert Cooke with Cash In Motion after her Ipswich Gold Cup win. She produced an enormous effort to overcome early trouble and land the Group 1 National Futurity at Wentworth Park in 2016. (Photo: Rick O’Donnell)
By David Brasch
HARDLY a Thursday goes by these days that Brad Northfield and Robert Cooke don’t run into each other at the weekly Casino race meeting.
It might be a tired old saying, but the gates to the track don\’t open unless Brad and Cookie are there.
They have been part of the racing scene on the Northern Rivers for longer than they care to remember. Brad was a couple of weeks old when he was taken to his first Casino race meeting. Cookie has been there since 1992.
The track bar is the scene of much joviality and Brad and Cookie are among the best dishing it out, sparring partners as well.
But, come January each and every year, they are \”soul mates\” in Group 1 glory. It\’s National Futurity time and both of them have career highlight stories to tell.
Brad bred and raced 2007 Futurity winner Bralyn Maisie (Firefly Boy-Moulamein). Cookie bred and raced 2016 Futurity winner Cash In Motion (Smooth Fancy-Teddy\’s Jackpot).
The Northern Rivers of NSW does punch above its weight when producing the upper echelon of race dogs.
\”An enormous run,\” said Cookie when remembering Cash In Motion\’s victory over Lyka Allen and Fantastic Skye with fellow Rivers superstar Mitcharlie Mia in fourth.
\”Mia knocked her down out of the boxes and she was knocked back to last,\” said Cookie. \”But, going around the first turn, they fanned and gave her a dream run through on the rails.
\”She got to fourth in the back straight and from then on they were going to struggle to hold her off.\”
Cookie described the win as \”unbelievable\”.
His wife Tammy said the greatest aspect of the victory was that they had whelped her, reared her, trained her and \”spoiled her rotten\”.
Unfortunately, Tammy had to stay back in Casino to look after the rest of the kennel and missed the Group 1 glory first hand.
\”I had to be there, of course,\” said Cookie. \”You\’ve gotta get the glory.\”
Cookie laments that Cash In Motion has not been the broodbitch success of her litter sister Cash Pot, dam of recent Group 2 Lismore Cup winner Cash View.
\”She is a beautiful bitch though,\” he said. \”She broke 30 seconds at Albion Park nine times and did it coming from behind, She won the Ipswich Cup, the Silver Dollars and was third in the Sapphire Crown in Melbourne and a finalist in the Temlee.\”
Cookie and Tammy admit they never did dare to dream of Group 1 glory, but celebrated it when it came. \”I\’d like to win another one,\” he said.
Brad Northfield, too, reckons his Group 1 turn is about due again.
He already knew the ability Bralyn Maisie had before he sent her south to be trained by family friend, former leading trainer Don McMillan who set her for the Futurity and then the Ladies Bracelet both of which she won.
Bralyn Maisie had already won the Casino Cup before she went to McMillan.
\”She\’d won 10 in a row at Casino, including heat and final of the Cup, before I sent her to Donny in Sydney,\” said Brad.
\”The Futurity night was so wonderful, so exciting.\”
Bralyn Maisie, a brilliant box dog, downed Adris Echo and Miss Eleftheria to win the Futurity. She would go on to win the Bracelet then win heat and semi to make the final of the Group 1 Golden Easter Egg.
Brad bred the bitch himself.
He\’d been given the mother, Moulamein, by the late Doug Moxey the transport legend who also bred Bill and Cyndi Elson\’s legend broodbitch Regal Silver.
\”Jan Finneran and her partner Warwick had moved to the Rivers,\” said Brad. \”I helped them settle in, did a bit of fencing for them etc. Just before they left Sydney, Warwick won a free service to Firefly Boy.
\”I spoke to Reg Kay about the dog and he assured me he was as good as his brother Elite State before breaking down.
\”I did the mating and Bralyn Maisie was the result.\”
She won 24 races and then became a fine broodbitch for Brad.
\”Her first litter, by Hallucinate, was the best. Bralyn County won his first 11 in a row and a couple of the litter broke track records.\”
Like Cookie, Brad Northfield is looking for another Group 1 winner.
\”Donny McMillan retired from a year or so later,\” said Brad.
\”I\’m still going. The Futurity win is my biggest thrill in greyhound racing in my time. Yes, it would be nice to get another one.\”
This year\’s Futurity will be part of a glamour night of racing at Wentworth Park for the GBOTA.
On January 22, the finals of the G1 Futurity (520m), G1 Derby (520m), G1 Paws Of Thunder (520m) and G2 Summer Distance Plate (720m) will be run.
A night of dreams, just like Cookie and Brad, at one time thought was just that … a dream.