LEADING Victorian trainer Rob Britton has praised his new co-trainer Brendan Pursell after the duo recorded an upset victory in Friday night's Group 2 Bendigo Cup (425m) with Landmark (Where's Pedro x Tiz Tears Sep '13).
The black dog got the call up to compete in the race as second reserve on Friday morning following the scratchings of Aussie Infrared and Black Mumbo. In another stroke of luck, Landmark was allocated the rails draw for the event, but was still a $23 chance to take home the title against a stellar field.
When the lids flew open, Landmark was a clear last in the early stages, but held his spot on the inside, barging his way through the pack and sprinting clear to defeat defending champ Aston Bolero in 23.70.
Britton says he gave his charge a chance heading into the event after drawing the coveted inside box.
“It was a very good field, but when he came up with box one I did give him a chance because in these big finals there is often a bit of interference when so many quality dogs are in the race,” Britton told Australian Racing Greyhound.
“The only thing I was worried about is how he'd get through the field – he barges his way through the field and sometimes it pays off and other times he just crashes into the other dogs.
“In all my years I can't remember a second reserve getting into a group final and winning – especially from box one. You have to get all the stars aligned for that to happen but they did – it was amazing.”
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Landmark, which turns four in September, took his record to 19 wins and 21 minor placings from 52 career starts, with his prizemoney earnings sitting less than $800 short of $100,000.
The black dog is owned by Helen Ivers and is from the same line as star stayer Space Star which was also trained by Britton throughout his career.
Britton says the dog has always shown enormous ability and that he will now be aimed at the heats of the Shepparton Cup later this month.
“He is a very nice dog, the only downfall with him is that he always comes out the way he came out on Friday night. It has cost him being what I'd called an outstanding dog, but he makes up for it by being a fanatical chaser,” Britton said.
“We try to focus on the shorter races, so he'll now head towards the heats of the Shepparton Cup. He is one of those dogs we try to keep over the 450s and every now and then we'll move him up to the 500s for a run, but if you keep him up over the 500 it does knock him around.”
Britton says the accolades for the win on Friday night must be aimed at his co-trainer Brendan Pursell, who has done a ‘remarkable job' with Landmark.
“He has had this dog in his shed all along and he has got to take the credit for this win – he has done a great job with him. The dog's record speaks for itself.
“Brendan was a good young trainer in Tasmania and before that he was a harness racing trainer. He came over here to try and make it over here and to learn and he is doing a really good job.
“There aren't a lot of young trainers in the game so I was happy to mentor him – I think there is a real need for it in greyhound racing at the moment because we need more young people.”
It could be a big week for team Britton who also has five-time group 1 winner Fanta Bale (David Bale x Ucme Typhoon Aug '14) engaged in Thursday's McKenna Memorial (595m). If she is able to win this week, the black bitch will take her career earnings above $840,000.
“She has done way more than we expected already in her career – she doesn't need to do any more – but I give her a genuine chance in the final. I expect her to go well with a clear run.”
It could also be the last time we see Fanta Bale before next month's Group 1 National Distance Championship.
“I am not a fan of giving dogs breaks – I like to race them weekly as I think they keep their form better.
“In her case there are not a lot of options coming up in the next few weeks so after Thursday night we'll probably keep her off the track and trial her until the Nationals.”