Kieron Butler is one of the lifebloods of greyhound racing, a spoke that is necessary for the big wheel to keep on turning.
On Thursday night he will rug up Eleazar from box five in the final of the Group One Albion Park Gold Cup, which is a just reward for someone who has been in the game for so long and always produced his own greyhounds.
“This is my first Group One in my 40 years,” Butler told ARG.
“I’ve been in the game that long and I’ve never been in a Group One. I was in a Group Two which I won but that was 30 years ago at the Gabba and I was in a Group Two in the Galaxy where I think I ran third too. Other than that I have been in a lot of finals and that sort of thing but no Group One’s.”
It is a fruit of the Goodna-based trainer’s labour that he is quite proud of given that he has done everything to get his greyhound to where she is.
“I bred her, I breed all my own dogs, I do the lot. I have never had anyone hand me a good dog and say have a go with that, they are always my own dogs who I have bred.”
While Eleazar is often a victim of her lack of early speed, there is no doubt that she can carve out some time when she gets the opportunity, something she has shown from a young age.
“One of the guys up here along with some blokes in Victoria offered me big money for her when she was around 13-months-old, she is bloody quick, she just hasn’t had a clear run in her career. When she was in Sydney with Dean and Sid (Swain) I think she trialled something like 29.61 at Wentworth Park, that is why we put her in the Oaks and Futurity.”
Eleazar is no stranger to meeting greyhounds the calibre of the ones she will face-off against in the final and while Butler says what a privilege it is to be in the race, he also points out how she has met the best at the top of their game in 2014.
“It is just nice to be in such elite company with Xylia Allen, she is the best sprinter/stayer in Australia, if not the world, what she can do is freakish, she is just a freak.”
“She beat us at Wentworth Park the night she ran the record. Coming into the race I thought we had a chance of running somewhere but Holy Christ Almighty, she came out and ran something like 15.80 to the first mark which is unheard of and that broke my bitches heart.”
“The week before Dyna Willow beat my bitch in track record time too, so when she was down in Sydney she ran into a few good ones.”
Butler had sent Eleazar down to Sid and Dean Swain Sydney for a change of scenery from the Brisbane environment with a few factors forcing his hand.
“I sent her down because I couldn’t get a run with her for a month up here and she needed a break from that first turn at Albion Park. She kept finding trouble and getting belted, it got to a stage where every race she was in the stewards report three or four times. A lot of it is caused by herself of course with her box manners but sometimes there is other dogs that just seem to want to run into you.”
He believes the break may have done her well and that she is racing as well as ever now. Butler also says it could be due to the variety in training methods.
“She may have went into last week just a little bit under-done. She injured a hip-support a couple of starts back and I feel like she was only about 90% for that race. I was very happy with the way she won though because she finished off the race so strong.”
“That is how I train them, a little bit different to how she would have been trained down in Sydney. I swim them a lot and do aerobic sort of stuff where Sid and Dean get into them with the work. We are completely different trainers but we both do the same job and get the same results. They did a great job down in Sydney and they are top-class trainers, they know what they are doing.”
Eleazar is by Bit Chili out of Cool Poss (Big Daddy Cool – Cool Kissy) and Butler says while Eleazar will definitely be a brood bitch down the track, there may still be more to come of her ilk.
“Her mother is still here with me, she has currently got four pups to Fear Zafonic and then I will be taking her to Lochinvar Marlow to get the cross back through Bombastic Shiraz and Brett Lee through Sensational Lee and line breed them back to Big Daddy Cool. Eleazar’s dam-line goes back to Kissy Bear and Bearability and has worked well for us with Big Daddy Cool.”
Eleazar has already won nine races for Butler and accumulated over $40,000 in prize-money in the process. When it comes to the big final on Thursday night, Butler summarised his hopes and prediction in one simple sentence.
“Like I said it is just good to be there but I’m really hoping for that clear run, if she can get that, she will show them something, I’m telling you.”