JUST under a year after suffering what was thought to be a career ending injury, Narralee will contest the biggest race of her life when she lines up in Thursday night’s Group 1 Sapphire Crown (515m) at Sandown Park.
In July last year, the daughter of Aston Galilee and Prince’s Faye broke down at Sale over 440m, with trainer Steve Creighton and connections deciding to retire Narralee to the breeding barn.
“She injured her calf muscle and achilles in a final at Sale and after that happened we thought she was finished,” Creighton told Australian Racing Greyhound.
“We waited until she came on season and we went to Glen Gallon, but she missed.
“We had been doing some therapy with her to help with her recovery and after she missed I spoke to the owner and said that I thought we may be able to get her back to the track.
“It was a long haul as it was one of those injuries which just takes time and we found that a lot of the old therapies are a lot better than the newer ones such as your carbon fibre implants and stem cell treatments.
“If we had of operated on it she would have got a lot of scar tissue and that would have restricted her movement.
“Instead we just gave her plenty of time and hands on therapy as well as walking and free galloping.
“It healed up well and while she has some thickening in it you wouldn’t know looking at her that anything had been wrong with her leg.”
Narralee resumed her career in April at Bendigo where she had two luckless runs over the sprint trip before Creighton made the decision to step her up in distance.
“She probably lost a little bit of her early speed and she couldn’t quite keep up with the early pace of some of the younger dogs,” Creighton said.
“We decided to step her up over 500 where she would have more of a chance to find the front again.
“She ran good times at Sale and Traralgon when we put her over the 500 so we decided to have a crack at the Sapphire Crown, however she didn’t have enough points to make the fields and she was drawn as the first reserve.”
Creighton was in for a change of luck, however, with Narralee gaining a start off box eight in the third of four heats last week. Beginning well from the outside, the black bitch was able to carve across the field to score by one and three quarter lengths over Star Torana in 29.56.
The 29.5kg speedster moves into box two for this week’s $100,000 to the winner decider against a quality field including Folio Bale (box one), Cash In Motion (box six) and Shared Equity (box eight). With an ideal box, the black bitch appears to be great value at $11 with Crownbet.com.au.
“I’m not concerned about the draw, but there are a lot of good dogs and some very astute trainers.
“But the little bitch is feeling good and we are very happy with her so we just have to cross our fingers and hope she can come out like she did last week.
“There are a lot of pace dogs in the race which can run good time, so she will need a bit of luck but she is a chance if she can find the front around the first turn.”
Win, lose or draw Creighton says it is a massive thrill for his entire family as well as the owners of the greyhound, the Mother and Sons syndicate, headed by Linda Gray.
“The owners are a mum and her two sons – they aren’t rich people but they put all their hard-earned into their dogs and I think it would mean a lot to them if she could win – maybe get a new car or put a deposit on a house.
“You put a lot of hard yards into the sport – breeding, rearing and getting them ready to race – so it would be a something really nice for our family if she were to win.
“It is a big thrill – it would be my first Group 1 in over 40 years as a trainer – so we have just got to hope for a little bit of luck as we know she is the best we can get her going into the race.”
The Group 1 Sapphire Crown is race six on the card this Thursday night and is set to jump at 8:52pm.