Caption: Trainer Sarah Irwin with her promising chaser Maryann’s Memory after one of the sprinter’s recent wins over 395m at Albion Park. (Photo: Box One Photography)
By Mike Hill
SARAH Irwin has been surprised by the early success of Maryann’s Memory – the only dog she has in work.
Named in memory of Sarah’s late mother, the Zambora Brockie-Gitcha Roses youngster last month took his record to three wins and a second from just four starts over the Albion Park 395m journey.
With a bit of luck it could have been four-from-four after Maryann’s Memory was run down on a wet track close to the post in his second start in late January.
“I lost my Mum two-and-a-half years ago and named the dog after her,” Irwin said.
“I’ve certainly been surprised by his good early form.
“I definitely wasn’t expecting this kind success.
“I think luck has played a big part.”
Irwin said she had been lucky with box draws and possibly the class of opposition.
“I have intentionally been bypassing races with heats and finals, and maybe Mum has been looking down and helping me,” she said.
The trainer plans to take things slowly with the promising fawn sprinter.
“He has early speed and is improving all the time, but he’s still only young. He won’t turn two until May 10,” she said.
“He’s very excitable and still needs time and patience.
“Eventually I hope to gradually build him up in distance.”
Irwin, who has been training just over two years, credits Torbanlea’s Ricky Hassall for giving her the opportunity with the lead and collar.
“I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing now without the help of people like Ricky,” she said.
“He’s taken me under his wing and I’m so lucky to have met him.
“Ricky offered me my first dog to train (Burrum Bobtail) a few years back.
“I jumped at the chance.
“I’d been helping him and looking after his dogs while he was away racing.”
Sarah, who admits a love of dogs got her into the industry, first came into contact with greyhounds four or five years ago through the Elson family.
“I helped Cindy with a few litters and it has greatly assisted me in what I’m doing now,” she said.
“Last year I whelped five litters for Ricky and Rod Collins.”
In fact, Maryann’s Memory is Sarah’s reward for whelping the first of Gitcha Roses’ two litters.
“Ricky said I could have first pick and I chose the male,” she said.
“I wanted a boy and he’s the only fawn pup in the litter. All the others are black.”
After her second litter, Hassall gave Gitcha Roses to Sarah as a pet, to join her family that includes her beloved staffy and a wolfhound.
“I don’t have any children. My staffy is my child,” she said.
Irwin also has four pups – all around 12-14 months of age – including a Fernando Bale bitch from Hassall’s outstanding racer Elegant Eleanor’s first litter.
“Again Ricky gave me first pick,” Irwin said.
“I chose a bitch for her future breeding potential.”
Irwin, who looks after her dad on his near-four-acre property at Pacific Haven, north of Maryborough, said she was hoping to develop a boutique operation incorporating training, whelping and rearing.
“It won’t be too big,” she said.
“At present I’m doing my dogs and looking after my father. He’s not doing very well at the moment.”
Sarah said she couldn’t wait for her pups to begin racing later this year.
“I hope to break them in myself,” she said.
She also thanked her partner Dan for his help with the dogs while she’s away racing.