Lady Ronray will be the sole NSW representative when she exits box seven in this Sunday’s Group Two Laurels Classic at Sandown Park.
Trained at Menangle Park by Ray Steele and owned by his wife Irena, Lady Ronray is one of the most promising bitches in the state, having faced the starter on 18 occasions resulting in 14 wins and three minor placings.
Lady Ronray qualified for Sunday’s $50,000 to the winner final when scoring an emphatic 29.58 victory in her semi-final last weekend. The win didn’t shock her trainer who was expecting to see improvement from the daughter of Cosmic Rumble and Ronray Disco, which had placed third in her heat the week prior.
“We were thrilled, she lived up to all our expectations”, Steele enthused, “she is a little pocket rocket”.
“I trialled her down there about ten days prior to the heats and she picked up a virus so we had to restrict her training until she got over it. She was probably a little bit underdone going into the heats but fortunately she was able to do enough to qualify for the semi final.”
Steele said his speedster is well suited in box seven this week, but will need to put her best paws forward to be in with a winning chance.
“I think it will suit her out there because she can come out really good off an outside draw.
“Her early speed is her best attribute but she will really need it on Sunday because there are seven other handy dogs in the race. She has got to use all of her early speed to be any chance.
“She is a beautiful box dog in Sydney and, although she came out alright last weekend, I do think she can begin a lot better than she did the other day.”
Lady Ronray’s competition includes a Jeff Britton trio in Weblec Belle (Box 1), Weblec Rose (Box 2) and Footluce Diva (Box 5) as well as three from the Wheeler Dynasty in Ousai Bale (Box 3), Kerrigan Bale (Box 4) and Lamia Bale (Box 6). Jamelia Twist (Box 8) rounds out the field for John Galea.
Steele said it would be an enormous thrill to take out a prestigious series, such as the Laurels, with a consistent performer like Lady Ronray.
“It would be sensational to win it, especially when you have got a little dog that tries like her.
“Even though the money is lovely it would just be nice to win for the dog, you would hate to see her get disappointed
“She just never stops amazing you with the times she can run and (winning) 14 out of 18 with three placings, they don’t come much better than that.”
Steele, who has been training greyhounds since he was 19, says that the bonny black bitch has the potential to become the best greyhound he has ever trained.
“I have had some nice dogs over the years, I quinella’d the Nowra Puppy Classic with Tian Hao Lee and Tian Hao Miss for some overseas clients in 2009 and Ronray Lass, Lady Ronray’s grandmother, made the final of the Association Cup.
“But she is potentially the best one I have had, at this stage she is just a faultless little dog.
“I think when she ran 22.3 at Bulli was when I realised I had something special. I always knew she had ability but when she came out and ran a tenth outside of Barica Bale’s track record as a very young dog I knew she was going to be pretty good.”
Making her success even more significant is that Ray and Irena bred Ronray Miss. Her mother, Ronray Disco, was a modestly performed sprinter which did the majority of her racing in New Zealand before making the move to the breeding barn.
“We decided to breed from her (Ronray Disco) on recommendations from the trainer in New Zealand. She had brilliant early speed, like her daughter, and her brother could run 600 despite the fact that she could only run 350 metres.
“The rest is history. Her Magic Sprite litter was quite good but I think this litter is a little bit better and she has just had a litter to Swift Fancy.”
Steele said the fact that he bred Lady Ronray is also a massive factor in his decision not to sell her, despite some sizeable offers.
“I still have some offers in the pipeline but I am trying to put them to the back of my mind. Overseas are trying to buy her but I am not interested at this stage. We bred from her great-grandmother and have had all the generations down to her.
“It makes it even better when you have had them from day one. When you breed them, rear them, educate them and they come out and do this for you, it is very satisfying.”
Lady Ronray, which will celebrate her second birthday on Sunday, looks to have an exceptionally bright future and, as of next month, she will officially become a Victorian. Steele has made the decision to move South and is hoping Lady Ronray will continue to shine against the high class Victorian chasers.
“We are moving to Victoria so she will be doing all of her future racing in Melbourne after the end of January.
“I have bought a property in Moama, my daughter and grandchildren are around there, and I will be taking her brother, Ronray Spirit, he is quite a handy dog too.”
The Group Two Laurels Classic is race 8 at Sandown this Sunday and will jump at 4:17pm (VIC time).