West Australian news by JAMES BROADHURST
Stargazer made the most of his opportunity as a reserve entrant into the recent Spring Gift final (520m) at Cannington with a victory at big odds for trainer Enzo Crudeli and owner Robbie Brankstone.
The much-improved black chaser gained his place in the trophy decider when Valachi, the fastest qualifier and pre-race favourite, was scratched on the morning of the race.
Wearing the green and white number nine stretch-vest, Stargazer jumped from box eight and got a sweet run into the race on the tail of Rippin’ Purton, as that greyhound launched to the lead from the seven.
Stargazer stalked the leader down the back straight and then edged to the front as they reached the final turn but he couldn’t break away to a decisive advantage.
Stargazer and Rippin’ Purton were locked in a fierce battle in the run to the finish line while Serong also made a move forward along the fence.
The end was frantic but Stargazer held on to score in 30.01 with Rippin’ Purton three quarters of a length behind and Serong a further half a length back in third place.
“We were just hoping that he’d land somewhere up in the first three which he managed to do,” Brankstone said after the race.
“The box draw probably helped him a lot and he capitalised on it. Good on him.”
The result continued Stargazer’s steady upward progression.
After a middling start to his career, Stargazer has kept improving and over the previous few months he showed signs that a big win wasn’t beyond him.
He won a Free To All in July and has been a regular placegetter at the top level, including his effort to finish runner-up in the WA Sprint Championship final.
The dog has come a long way from where Brankstone and Team Crudeli had assessed him early on.
“I named him Stargazer given that’s kind of what he did through pre-training,” Bransktone joked.
“We thought the 400m was going to be his caper but he worked up to 490m and went ok so we gave him a shot over 520m.”
Stargazer already has more than 70 starts under his belt so it’s easy to forget that he’s been a work in progress and still has plenty of time on his side.
He was still a month off turning three years old when he won the Sprint Gift.
“Some dogs don’t mature until about two and half-three years of age and that’s been the case for him,” Brankstone said.
“He’s gone from that handy Canning (Grade 5) dog to being a pretty handy Free To All dog.
“He’s not one of those dog’s that’s going to be running the hands off the clock but he’ll certainly give you your money’s worth.”
Brankstone and the Crudelis have previously shared success with the likes of Perth Cup winner Equanimity and Rambo’s Boy.