The wet’s no worry to Closer To Rain

Caption: Trainer Nancy Maynard and Albert Wrigley with their talented sprinter Closer To Rain. (Picture: Louise Partland)

Queensland regional wrap with MIKE HILL

NORTH Queensland trainer Nancy Maynard and partner Albert Wrigley are rapt with the progress of their talented sprinter Closer To Rain.

Recently they have stepped the black bitch (Allen Deed-Fancy Gun) up from 380m to the 498m journey with instant success.

From seven trips over the longer Townsville distance Closer To Rain has won six, including victory in the Australia Day Trophy followed by a super quick effort in an FFA sprint.

Closer To Rain clocked a slick 28.45s, only .12s outside Zabdon Ferrari’s 498m track record, in winning the FFA.

“The track was in excellent condition after all the rain we’ve had recently,” Maynard said last month.

A week earlier the bitch had beaten a classy field, including two of Townsville’s three Country Cup representatives – Midnight Frankie and Inconsequential – in the Australia Day feature.

Closer To Rain, a well-supported $3.40 chance, led all the way from the inside box, beating Scott Atkinson’s On A High ($9) by two-and-a-quarter lengths, with the Rhonda Essery-trained  $3.30 favourite Stratford another two lengths away third.

For her supporters, the Maynard sprinter proved a good omen bet as the race was run in torrential rain.

Maynard said they had purposely sidestepped the Country Cup. 

“We didn’t want to run her in the series,” she said.

“She’s still a baby. She only turned two last November, but she’s getting race smarter all the time.

“She’s got us excited and she’s giving us a huge thrill.

“And we’re winning a few trophies along the way.”

Maynard admitted Wrigley, who has been in the sport more than 40 years, had ‘got me interested in the dogs about 15 years ago’.

“He began training when they raced at Mt Isa,” she said.

The couple, who operated a small team of three or four dogs in Townsville for many years, moved north to Forrest Beach, east of Ingham, two years ago.

Maynard recalls: “At the time, I said no more dogs.

“But Albert was bored and he would spend hours on the computer searching for a dog.

“He wore me down in the end and we got Closer To Rain. She’s the only greyhound we have.

“She’d had two runs at Richmond for two placings before she arrived here.

“She’s turned out to be a smart little dog and she’s keeping us interested in the sport.

“She loves the walking machine; that’s her main exercise.”

Before stepping up to the 498m trip in early January, Closer To Rain had strung together an impressive record over 380m – five wins, five placings from 17 starts.

Her career stats as of late last month stood at 11 wins and seven placings from 26 starts with prizemoney exceeding  $22,000.

“We always felt she would be able to handle the 498m,” Maynard said.

“She may even go further as she matures.

“We’ve had some good chasers over the years and some good results with the Gunnadoo dogs.

“Gunnadoo Racer just missed out on winning the Townsville greyhound-of-the-year title in 2014.

“And we’ve been pretty lucky with most of the dogs we’ve bought from southern owners/breeders over the years. In most cases they were what they said they were.”

Meanwhile, the David Plummer-trained Fogelberg thumped his rivals in the Australia Day Cup (460m)at Bundaberg, while the Peta Boon-prepared Informality was successful in the Rockhampton Australia Day Cup (510m).

***

GUMLU-based owner-trainer Harold Hovi has sent his talented sprinter Redemption Day to leading Central Queensland conditioner Darren Taylor.

“He needed a change,” Hovi said.

He said the sprinter had lost confidence after a serious incident in the catching pen after a brilliant victory over the 498m at Townsville last August.

“It was his first run over the journey and he clocked a super 28.42s (Zabdon Ferrari holds the record at 28.33s),” the trainer said.

“He suffered a nasty gash under the shoulder from a rival runner in the catching pen.”

Hovi said the injury had taken longer to heal than he first thought.

Redemption Day returned to the track in mid-December but his times were down.

“He wasn’t the same dog,” the trainer said.

“I thought the best option was to send him away for a while, hopefully, to help get his confidence up.”

The change seems to have worked.

Redemption Day won first-up for his new trainer over the Rockhampton 510m trip in mid-January.

“I was very happy with the run,” said Taylor, who is based at Bouldercombe near Rockhampton.

“He’s settled in really well but he does have some ongoing injury issues.

“He’s a day-to-day proposition.

“If he can stay sound, we plan to race him in the Anniversary Cup (late March) and go on to the Rocky Cup Wildcard series (April).”

Taylor said he thought the $25,000 Wildcard was a great concept and a huge bonus for local trainers.

***

THE powerful Ken Boody team is firing on all cylinders and one of its kennel stars is the smart chaser Zip Stream.

The Zipping Garth-Night Time Lover black bitch dominated her rivals for an impressive victory in last month’s $6500 Young Guns Final (407m) at Rockhampton.

It was Zip Stream’s sixth successive win this year, including five BON runs.

A hot $1.80 favourite, the talented sprinter hummed from the boxes, opened up an early lead before racing away for a five-and-a-quarter-length victory over the Peta Boon-prepared Informality ($3.70) with another Boody runner First Black Jack ($3.60) a close third.

The winner clocked a quick 23.41s, although she has a super 23.28s to her credit.

Late last month her record stood at 16 wins and six placings from 36 starts.

Boody has taken an early jump on his rivals in the club’s trainer’s premiership.

After finishing fourth last year, he has a commanding advantage after only two months of racing following a series of multiple winning nights including a ‘Magnificent Seven’ in January.

***

TRAINER Tony Parker hopes his talented sprinter Paulie Walnuts returns home ‘a better dog’ after his recent stint in Brisbane.

The son of Fernando Bale-Flyrite and new Townsville 380m record holder (21.41s) gave Parker his first city victory last month, winning a Monday night Fifth Grade heat over 520m at Albion Park.

“It was a big thrill,” the trainer said.

However, Paulie Walnuts was unable to repeat the effort a week later in the final after copping an early squeeze and several checks in running.

Parker, who had returned home a few days earlier, had left his talented sprinter with leading trainer Tony Brett.

“Paulie’s due home tomorrow,” he said. “My thinking about him hasn’t changed.

“He’s still got a bit to learn but I’m hoping he’ll be better for the experience.

“He’s a dog that needs things to go his way.

“However, he’s still only young and he’s still learning.

“Tony (Brett) was impressed with his only trial. He likes the dog.”

Parker had taken ‘Paulie’ and three other members of his strong Ayr-based team south for a ‘let’s test the waters’ mission.

It proved to be a mixed trip with seasoned campaigner Sprightly Bro falling in the Country Cup final, Jackie Chiles just missed placings at Albion Park and Ipswich, while Bogie Bandit recorded a couple of seconds at Ipswich (431m) and Albion Park (395m).

“Bogie Bandit is staying a while with Tony (Brett),” Parker said. The trainer said he would aim Paulie Walnuts at this month’s Townsville Young Guns over 498m.

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