It’s fast becoming the most recognisable prefix in greyhound racing form guides with Mark Gatt’s team of Ritza flyers becoming the new wave of greyhounds to follow. With the retirement of Oaks Road, Mark’s own breed of stars has picked up where he left off and dominated heats of the Nowra Puppy Classic last Wednesday night.
Ritza Elsie began in brilliant fashion in heat one leading all the way from box one in a sizzling 29.80, setting the benchmark and will definitely be the one to beat in this week’s final if she can repeat her performance. It looks like she has a big future ahead of her with trainer Mark Gatt having high hopes for her future success.
“She is the quicker of the two and the quickest dog I’ve trialled around Wentworth Park which is very exciting” said Gatt.
Next to take centre stage was sibling Ritza Joe who also stepped out from box one and was as equally impressive with an all the way display breaking the 30 second mark clocking 29.99 and scoring by 7 lengths. Mark was also impressed by the dog and knows time is on his side to allow him to blossom.
“He’s not as quick as the bitch but is just starting to work it all out. Once he matures and knows what it’s all about he will be a handy dog”.
Mark’s third starter Ritza Rita was gallant in defeat but due to an unfortunate injury will just give the young trainer two runners in this weeks $25,000 to the winner final to be held on Sunday.
It’s amazing to think all these brilliant dogs along with Ritza Ryder who was successful at Wentworth Park again on Saturday night for the 6th time and has now earned over $116,000 in prize money have come from the one broodbitch, Midnight Flare.
Midnight Flare (Spiral Nikita x Midnight Drama) was a star in her own right on the racetrack having notched up 8 wins from just 22 starts for Mark’s brother Daniel which included a brilliant third in the Richmond Oaks as well as a fast 30.77 at Richmond and 28.93 at Bulli. Her offspring have emulated the word perfection, with her first litter to Where’s Pedro producing Ritza Ryder, Ritza Night (NZ Futurity finalist) and Ritza Flare (29.81 at Dapto). Her second litter to Brett Lee already look like emulating there predecessors with Ritza Elsie (29.80 at Nowra and 30.68 at Richmond), Ritza Joe (29.96 at Nowra and 30.71 at Richmond) and Ritza Rita (26.05 at Bulli and 29.76 at Nowra) all off to flying starts in there career with certainly exciting things in store for the Gatt brothers and maybe more trophies to be added to the I’m sure already full cabinet.
Mark is again on the hunt for a sire for Midnight Flare’s next litter, with a combination of cross breeding analysis along with a temperament characteristic that he highly values. “Every dog has a different personality and I like to match good personalities for hopefully the perfect race dog. I’ve had pups from a few different stud dogs and you learn their temperaments and then how you have to train them”.
There’s no questioning his methods with prospective breeders surely to pay attention given the success of his first two litters.
He has only been at stud for a month but Oaks Road is proving to be a raging success with almost a full booking in his first month and several bookings already for November that have Mark’s phone so busy it barely gives him time for an interview. It’s no surprise to see the success of the four time group winner who punters were always looking for at the finish with his explosive run home ability. Not surprised Mark is rapt with breeder’s response.
Not surprisingly Mark is rapt with breeder’s response. “You can only do a certain amount of services a month and he pretty much reached that quota in his first month and I’ve already sold three straws already in the first three days of this month…he was such a powerful dog and the times he led from the start I knew he wouldn’t get run down”.
A comprehensive view of Oaks Roads success and breeding information can be found at www.oaksroad.com.
No one would be surprised if the success of the last 12 months as the old cliché goes; the fame has gone to his head. However the most humble of trainers in the industry, one thing you notice is how Mark always picks up the leads for other handlers behind the boxes and is quick to defer the glory and attention away from him. One would only hope his success continues as he is a true ambassador for our sport.