Colebrook trainer Steven O’Brien is enjoying considerable success with former New South Wales chaser Pinto Pronto (Knocka Norris – Tonto Tears), the winner of eight races since debuting in Tasmania in June, including six of his last seven outings.
“My brother Michael purchased Pinto Pronto after seeing him advertised on the internet, but I must say that when I first laid eyes on him I thought that we were getting into deep water,” he explained this week.
“The dog was in very good condition and gave the impression that there was very little room for improvement, obviously he is just thriving on the country environment or failing that he is racing in much weaker company,” he added.
O’Brien, who has earned the reputation of a very astute conditioner over the years, has previously enjoyed success with several greyhounds purchased from interstate, the most recent the handy chaser Custodian (Shanlyn Prince – Chiki Boss), which won six Tasmanian races and qualified for the 2012 Hobart Thousand won by Blackall’s Boss.
The trainer prepares a small team from a 40 hectare holding with a frontage on the Coal River and within a stones thrown of Neptune Stud, once Tasmania’s premier standardbred nursery.
“I believe that Pinto Pronto will make a reasonable distance dog and will start by racing him over the longer journey at the LGRC meeting in Launceston on Monday night,” he explained.
“He won in Hobart over 599 metres quite easily and went within three lengths of the track record, so I am keen to pursue a distance campaign with him and at the same time attempt to cure him of the bad habit of being tardy from the boxes.”
O’Brien gained a start in the greyhound racing industry as a ten year old living at Richmond, by helping his uncle Peter Howlett with his team.
“My Dad purchased several greyhounds and gave them to uncle Peter to train, so I naturally became involved,” he explained.
Having obtained a licence in his own right in 1975, he entered the winners circle with his first greyhound, when the bitch Odyssey won at her second start.
O’Brien also has high hopes for a litter of ten month old pups by Ninja Jamie from the Vapour Whirl bitch Wine Vapour, bred by Julie Bannon.
“They are looking good and Wine Vapour was the winner of ten races and this is her first litter, so I am hoping for the best,” he said.
Meanwhile a further five heats of the prestigious Ministers Gift, to be conducted at Tattersalls Park in Hobart on October 24, were decided at Tuesday’s NWGRC meeting.
Mangalore mentor Mick Stringer dominated proceedings, winning heats with the smart chasers Club Foot (Mogambo – Von’s Angel), Orange Boy (Aston Galilee – Patsy Anne) and Sentry Duty ( Aston Galilee – Patsy Anne).
The remaining heats were won by the Allan Anderson prepared Lashing Illusion ( Lilli Pilli Lad – Illusion) and the Robin Grubb prepared Pipstar (High Earner – Stylish Moon).
The $10,000 to the winner Ministers Gift ( 461 metres), promises to be one of the most keenly contested affairs to have been run in Tasmania in recent times, with the field and box draw to be announced tomorrow afternoon (Friday).