(Photo: Just Greyhound Photos)
By ALEX NOLAN
TRAINER Darren Russell’s confidence in the lead-up to December’s Queensland Straight Track Championship was justified when Deck Fifty Two beat home heavily supported favourite Impact to book his place in the national final.
Russell came within a head of being Queensland’s sole trainer represented in the $25,000-to-the-winner championship when Point To Point ran a bold race for third.
Deck Fifty Two recorded a career peak (19.45sec), which equalled Impact’s best recorded time up the straight to that point, and became Russell’s first national finalist since Innisplain Jet qualified for the Sprint Final at The Meadows in 2013.
The National Straight Track Championships were scheduled to be staged on Sunday, December 19, after this month’s edition of Chase was sent to print.
However, Russell was extremely pleased with Deck Fifty Two’s (Barcia Bale-Mitchie Madam) performance in the state final.
“It was a real thrill and he just did everything right,” Russell told Chase after the win.
“Over the past six-to-eight weeks he has continued to get better.
“He’s remained injury free and has become used to the track as I’ve been trialling him there a lot more.”
Russell is no stranger to success at Capalaba.
His smart race bitch Precious Sal won the inaugural TAB Anniversary Cup in 2018 before rounding out her career with a win in the 2019 Straight Of Origin final.
Russell said Precious Sal was a “machine up the straight” but he would struggle to split her and Deck Fifty Two in theoretical match race over the 366m.
“He’s now recorded a faster time than she did at Capalaba, but there would be nothing between them,” he said.
“It’s a specialist quality because not all dogs run well up the straight. I think it suits dogs that can run a good mid-race section, which (Deck Fifty Two) can.
“It’s bit easier when you get up in grade because they seem to keep their course.
“When they’re maidens they’re going left, right and everywhere.”
It’s been a busy period for Russell, both on the track and at his Innisplain property.
He could easily be mistaken for a mower man, such is the amount of time he’s spent maintaining his 15 acres of land after the big wet.
“Once you’ve finished mowing it you’ve got to turn around and start again,” he said.
Deck Fifty Two is owned by Noel Noon and Lawrie Meteyard, who trained the rising three-year-old early in his career.
“I’ve known Lawrie for about 15 years and he’d been a bit crook recently, but it was great to have him there for the final,” Russell said.
Although Point To Point narrowly missed qualifying for the national final when beaten by Impact, Russell was pleased with the effort.
“I had Impact by the tail because I thought we were going to run second,” Russell joked.
“He’s been going well up the straight but we’ll get him back around the circle again soon.”
Deck Fifty Two took his career earnings beyond $50,000 in winning the Queensland final.
At the time of writing he boasted six wins up the straight from 12 starts.
… And now national champion
By Racing Qld’s Jordan Gerrans
After decades of ownership in the greyhound code, Noel Noon is proud to say the Group 3 National Straight Track Championship at Capalaba is the greatest victory in his time in racing.
Alongside close friend, fellow owner and former trainer Laurie Meteyard, Noon watched over the fence on Sunday afternoon as the impressive Deck Fifty Two proved to be the top dog in Australia up the grass straight by taking out the 366-metre feature worth $25,000.
Noon estimates he has owned up to 50 dogs over the decades – including many he bred himself – and declared the recent 19.60-second sizzling performance by Deck Fifty Two as his best ever at a greyhound track.
“It was fantastic and the biggest race I have ever won,” Noon said.
“I have had dogs since 1986 or something like that and it would be the biggest race that I have ever won as an owner.
“I was rapt, it was a great day down at Capalaba, my wife was down there with Laurie as well – we had a ball.”
Wearing the red rug, Deck Fifty Two began well and targeted the centre of the track and showed enough toe in the closing stages to hold off fellow Queensland representative and race favourite Impact.
New South Wales qualifier Olsen Street rounded out the top three but it was all the Sunshine State on their home venue.
Deck Fifty Two held off Impact – trained by Kevin Ellis – in the Queensland Final to qualify for the national decider and recorded the exact same quinella against the best straight track dogs from around the country.
The Shannon Brook-based owner Meteyard also trained Deck Fifty Two in his first three starts of his career before he ended up with Group-1 winning trainer Darren Russell at Innisplain.