COLLINGWOOD supporters will be tuning in to the Tassie greyhounds on Monday night to rally behind the cleverly named Joffa’s Me Mate in the Group 2 Launceston Cup (515m).
Trained by Katrina Gregory, the striking black and white chaser qualified for the $40,000-to-the-winner final courtesy of a third and second placing in his heat and semi-final respectively, with online bookmaker Bet365 offering $21 for those Pies supporters who think its their turn to collect.
“There is the perception that Collingwood supporters are a bit feral – and Joffa was born without teeth on the bottom of his jaw,” Gregory told Australian Racing Greyhound.
“Being a black and white dog we thought it would be a good joke to call him Joffa’s Me Mate after (Joffa Corfe) Collingwood’s biggest supporter.
“When Collingwood wins a game he (Joffa) has a gold coat which he puts on – so I got the dog a little gold rug which I put on him to have his picture taken.
“It started out as a bit of fun and it has been really good.”
Joffa’s Me Mate will jump from box six in the feature, which isn’t ideal, but Gregory remains optimistic he may ‘swoop’ with a well-timed run.
“I probably would have preferred the red but I don’t know if he would have been able to take advantage of it.
“I am hoping Jason Fletcher’s dog (Fantastic Spiral) will be able to give him a nice cart across into the race but we will just have to wait and see.”
‘Joffa’ has been a handy little greyhound in his limited starts to date, collecting six wins and 15 minor placings from just 29 career outings.
Aside from his catchy race name, the 31.8 kilogram sprinter holds a special place in the heart of Gregory, her husband Paul and their foster son Braydon as the son of their former champion, Chinatown Lad.
The brindle chaser was the first greyhound Gregory trained and went on to become one of the best stayers of his era, winning the Group 1 Sandown & Albion Park Cups, under the care of Shane Whitney, earning $222,730 throughout his career.
“Gavin Whitney always told me when I got my license to go see him, so I did, and he gave me a brindle pup,” Gregory recalled.
“That pup turned out to be Chinatown Lad and I trained him for his first 16 starts.
“When Gavin and his son Shane started talking about him being good enough for the Launceston Cup I wasn’t very confident in my training abilities so I asked them to train him for me.
“Chinatown Lad didn’t end up winning the Launceston Cup but he was a wonderful dog for us.
“As it turns out, all these years later, I now have his son which I am preparing for the final.
“Hopefully he can do what his dad couldn’t all those years ago.”
Joffa’s Me Mate will face some tough opposition in the final, most notably from NSW star Fantastic Spiral ($2.50) and the evergreen Breaker’s Tip ($3).
Both dogs are racing well and bring definite class factor to the race, with Fantastic Spiral set to line up on Saturday night in the Group 1 Temlee at The Meadows.
Gregory said she is happy with her dog going into the Launceston Cup, but isn’t placing too many expectations on him against a quality field.
“I’m still pinching myself thinking about the fact that he made the final.
“Leading up to the heats he had run a couple of nice races and had been mixing it with some handy dogs in a few different series’.
“From there he has just continued to step up – we are very proud of him.
“It is a very hard race this week – every dog deserves its spot in the final – so we are just hoping for a safe race.
“Whatever happens, happens, we are just happy to be there and will be enjoying the moment while we can.”