Londonderry trainer Majella Ferguson is on the comeback from a quiet few months in the training department, with a small kennel that is certainly proving to be a case of quality over quantity.
Exciting prospect Cyclone Simone has made an instant impression since returning to the track earlier this month- winning two from two and taking her record to three from five overall. The daughter of champion sire Bombastic Shiraz was bred by Ferguson out of her highly talented racebitch Smashing Amy.
Smashing Amy was owned by Ferguson’s family and won fifteen races throughout her career, including the NSW Distance Championship at Wentworth Park, after which she represented the state in the National final at Perth. Although she didn’t emerge from the series as a winner, Smashing Amy was no doubt talented- something which she has passed onto her progeny.
Aside from Cyclone Simone, the litter also includes the brilliant middle distance dynamo Bookkeeper. Bookkeeper stole the Topgun limelight momentarily over the weekend when he broke Nellie Noodles’ 34.07s track record over the 600 metre trip at The Meadows, clocking a scintillating 34.05s in a heat of the Group 1 Hume Cup.
“She was fast as a sprinter and fast as a stayer. She was a little bit moody but she was really good”, Ferguson explained of her former star, Smashing Amy.
“She was a really good bitch. We bred the six of them at home, but we had a lot of pups at the time. We had Irreplaceable’s pups so we actually sold all of them”
“The people that own her, Ben and Wayne Carey, are friends of mine and she is their first dog. They are really nice people, they bought her as a pup and they let us rear her and do everything- she got broken-in and then came straight back to us”
It has not been a smooth introduction to racing for the first-time owners. While Cyclone Simone clearly has an abundance of talent, as is all too common with fast greyhounds, she has been plagued by injury problems for much of her career.
“It’s been really hard because they knew that they had a good dog”, Ferguson said.
“She has been a nightmare injury wise. She started off good but then she kept doing her pins”
“She is three next February- she was really late starting. When we got her coming back last time we changed all her training- people were saying don’t put her up the straight because she has done her pins, so we were thinking how do we get her fit?”
“We put her around the circle but that wasn’t doing any good so we decided to free gallop her in the paddock every day for about six weeks before we brought her back”
Cyclone Simone debuted at The Gardens in July, defeating the highly talented Premier Mozz in a slick 29.85s. The black bitch was luckless in her next start at the track before finishing fourth at Dapto at her third track appearance. After this, she was trialled post-to-post at Wentworth Park and was then nominated for her first start at headquarters.
“You wouldn’t believe it- we had her ready and we were going to put her in at Wenty and she chased a duck in the let-out yard and ran straight into the fence”
Cyclone Simone returned to the track just under two weeks ago at Maitland, recording a slick 25.36s (BON) over the 450 metre trip. She then ventured back to Dapto, scoring in a heat of a 1-2 wins series by seven and a half lengths in a fast 29.78s.
The pint-sized powerhouse will return to Dapto tomorrow for the final; however she faces a much tougher challenge from box five. Despite being the only runner in the field to break the 30-second barrier at the track, the undefeated Rain Bale for Simon Rhodes is lining up from box seven and looks to have plenty of talent of her own.
Ferguson is hopeful of a good result from the lightly raced bitch and gives her a good chance despite the draw
“She goes nice early and if she finds the front she’ll be winning, but this race is a little bit tricky because she had the two the other day and the one box was vacant, so it was a big advantage- but she does go nice”
“Her first split was good but I notice that there are a couple of dogs in it that have got a couple of nice splits- that one of Simon Rhodes (Rain Bale) goes alright but at least it is drawn on her outside”
“I don’t think the five will worry her because I was watching her the other day- after she came out she sort of moved out to the centre of the track a little bit”.
All going well, Ferguson would like to target some feature events with Cyclone Simone in the future. Despite being lightly raced, because she is almost three, Cyclone Simone has missed many of the age restricted series’ and will subsequently have to compete in open class
“We might have a look at The Gardens or possibly something like the Soldiers Saddle at Bathurst. Because she is that little bit late starting she misses things like the Laurels and a few of those age races- she missed the Vic Peters. She is very new to racing realistically, but she should be able to race on and I think she has a pretty bright future because she does go nice and as you can see when she leads she is fairly strong”
Cyclone Simone is not the only exciting prospect in Ferguson’s kennel at present. Knocka Norris youngster Bleiswijk Billy is developing a handy little record for himself with three wins and a second from four starts at Maitland. The white greyhound got down to 25.43s at his last effort at the showground- indicating that he has some ability too.
The consistent Electro Storm has been flying the flag for the Ferguson kennels at Wentworth Park recently- clocking two blistering wins in 29.69s and 29.83s respectively before finding trouble at his last three starts. The son of Bit Chili is a classy customer and is sure to be back on the winner’s list in upcoming weeks.
Possibly most exciting of all is the resilient Unexplained who is on the comeback from injury. The Where’s Pedro – Stylish Scene dog has only had three trials since he started making his comeback, but broke the Richmond track record at his most recent preparation run- clocking a breathtaking 22.21s over the 400 metres
“Unexplained actually broke the track record at Richmond after the last on Wednesday. He has torn both hips- he did the first one and then we brought him back and he won at Ballarat and then he tore the second one in Melbourne, but he appears to have come back bigger and better than ever”
“His run home was sensational over 400-it was just beyond belief. That’s the best he has ever gone there. He is possibly going to go to Melbourne or to Hobart- we are thinking the Ballarat Cup or the Hobart Thousand with him”.
“He has been a great dog and he is a fast dog- a very fast dog”.
Ferguson also has high hopes for the final Stylish Scene litter by Brett Lee. The pups are half brothers and sisters to Unexplained and full relations to Group winners Irreplaceable and Dazzle You
“We are very excited about our Brett Lee- Stylish Scene litter- it is her last litter and they are eleven months old”
“They are the nicest pups I have ever seen. It has been amazing what she has thrown. She had eleven pups in her first litter (x Brett Lee)- they all won, there was six city winners and two group winners”.