TONY Brett won’t be forgetting his win in the 2016 Group 2 Vince Curry Memorial Maiden (520m) anytime soon.
The leading conditioner went into the $40,000-to-the-winner feature at Ipswich on Saturday night with three finalists, Thirty Talks (box one), Split Image (box four) and Paua To Avoid (box eight), and walked away with two winners after Split Image and Paua To Avoid crossed the line locked together in a dead heat.
First run in 1984, it was the first time the Vince Curry final had resulted in a dead heat, with Brett finally collecting top honours, having run second in the prestigious feature on five occasions.
“It’s nice to finally win it,” Brett told Australian Racing Greyhound.
“It has been one of those races where I have been trying for many years to take it out so to finally nab it, and with such good dogs, I love it.”
Brett says he went into the race thinking the regally-bred Paua To Avoid, a daughter of Barcia Bale and Paua To Terrify, was his best chance of landing the win, with 40-1 outsider Split Image pleasantly surprising the Grandchester mentor.
“I thought Paua To Avoid was my best chance as she was the most primed for it,” he said.
“Thirty Talks was probably the least experienced leading up to the race and little Split Image, her worry was whether she had the strength to run out the 520.”
When the lids flew open on Saturday night, Split Image exploded from the boxes to set up a big lead heading down the back, with Paua To Avoid overcoming a stack of interference to work her way into second spot.
“Split Image did well to get out and go, but she really had to as she wasn’t as strong as the others at the finish,” Brett explained.
“On the night she ran a 5.28 first sectional which will lead 99 per cent of races at Ipswich and from there she made her own luck out in front.
“Paua To Avoid’s run in chasing her was enormous.
“When you have dogs running those brilliant early sectionals and 30.42 overall it is a big job to catch them, so she did really well.”
Brett said he had no clue as to who had won the race from behind the boxes, but says it was a fitting result to see both bitches share the title.
“I think I have been in two or three dead heats in my entire 15 years of training.
“To dead heat with two of my own – especially those two bitches – was uncanny.
“They arrived on flights the same day when they got sent up here a couple of months ago – I picked them up from the airport at the same time – and here they are all these weeks later having dead heated in the same race.
“It was quite amazing and it was something I don’t think we will ever see again.”
Moving forward, Brett has high hopes for all three chasers coming out of the series.
“I am actually very excited about Split Image as she keeps improving – I don’t know just how good she could be at this stage,” he said.
“She ran 13.02 down the back and I haven’t had many dogs which have been capable of breaking 13 seconds down the back.
“To run the sections she does she has got plenty of ability and she is just gradually getting a little bit stronger.
“We’ll head to Albion Park with her now and run her through the novice grades and aim her for the Futurity in April.
“Unfortunately Paua To Avoid won’t be staying in Queensland. I just dropped her off at the airport – she is flying straight down to Steve White in Melbourne where they have a ticket for her in the Launching Pad.
“She is a very special little girl and she is going to make a name for herself on the track.
“I have a soft spot for her – she brings back memories of Bogie Leigh and that doesn’t happen too often.
“As for Thirty Talks, even though he didn’t run a place I wasn’t disappointed.
“He anticipated the start about two seconds too early – hit his head on the boxes, stepped back and then the lids opened.
“That’s just part of learning how to race and I think down the track he is going to be a very good dog.
“He is a Richmond Auction Dog so he will head down for that series in May and I have the opportunity to get a Launching Pad ticket for him too so that could be an option for him as well.
“At this stage we’ll have a think about it as there are plenty of nice races coming up for him too.”