GERRY O’Keeffe is planning to target further group race glory with Ring The Bell after the talented stayer scored a tough victory in the Listed Superstayers (710m) at Albion Park on Thursday night.
Beginning well from box three in the four dog, invitation-only feature, the brindle dog was able to punch through and take the early lead, fighting off a mid race challenge from Luna Jinx (box five) and Cyndie’s Magic (box one) to score by one and one quarter lengths in 41.84.
O’Keeffe, who went into the event full of confidence, said he was elated with the win despite a few nervous moments throughout the race.
“Cyndie’s Magic, Luna Jinx and My Boy Brodie were great competitors, but I thought if my fella could get to the front he would win because he is a very bold frontrunner,” O’Keeffe told Australian Racing Greyhound.
“When he ran second behind Cyndie’s Magic in a heat of the Gold Cup he was only beaten a head and he had never seen the track.
“I thought he would improve and I was expecting him to break 42 seconds…I actually would have been disappointed if he hadn’t.
“It was a really competitive race against some top stayers – when our dog was out in front he got strongly challenged and was headed at one point, but he had the courage to push on and come again.
“I was panicking because I really thought he would lead clearly and he would win clearly by about four or five lengths, but it just shows the quality of the other dogs.”
Ring The Bell has now won 11 of his 39 starts with close to $81,000 in career earnings and he is now the third greyhound from the Kinloch Brae x Absolute Stunna litter to score a victory at black type level.
His sister, Bells Are Ringin’ shot to prominence when winning the world’s most lucrative staying race, the Group 1 Sandown Cup, earlier this year, while his brother Blazin’ Bomber is a winner of the Group 3 Bill Collins Speed Star and the Group 3 Cranbourne Puppy Classic.
“It has been a tremendous litter,” O’Keeffe said, “There are three outstanding dogs in his litter and the most unlikely of the three of them – Bells Are Ringin’ – has won a group 1.
“The two dogs Ring The Bell and Blazin’ Bomber are both good group dogs and they are both deserving of winning a group 1 race throughout their careers.
“I’ll continue to travel with Ring The Bell and Bells Are Ringin’ for all the big staying races and they’ll both be heading towards the National Distance Championship.”
O’Keeffe was full of praise for the work of Tony and Marie Zammit who prepared Ring The Bell in the days leading up to the Superstayers Invitational, while he was also thankful to the club for inviting the dual group 1 finalist to compete in the $25,200 to the winner feature.
“I am very thankful to the Brisbane Greyhound Racing Club because I wasn’t able to run his sister Bells Are Ringin’ in the race because she pulled up a bit sore after her last run at Albion Park.
“Instead I suggested to the Club that I could run Ring The Bell and they were good enough to an extend an invitation to him to compete in the race so I was delighted.
“Thanks must also go to Tony and Marie for looking after him – I have total faith in them and the dog went terrific.”