The Group 1 Winter Cup champion was having his final hit out in preparation for last Saturday’s Group 1 Maturity Classic when he went amiss, forcing Tony Brett to scratch his star chaser from the $100,000 to the winner series.
Unfortunately, the injury is severe enough to rule him out of the Queensland Sprint Championship heats on August 10.
While naturally disappointed, Brett says the injury is not career threatening.
“We were giving him his final hit out up the straight before the final and he took a few funny strides half way up,” Brett told Australian Racing Greyhound.
“I knew straight away it didn’t look good, sure enough when I got up the top I noticed his pin muscle had already blown up.
“Unfortunately that rules him out of the Nationals, but it could have been a lot worse – I am thankful it wasn’t a dropped back muscle or a cracked hock or something more serious.”
Last week wasn’t all disappointment for Brett, taking out the Group 3 Rockhampton Cup (510m) with his ultra-consistent race bitch Split Image (Where’s Pedro x Unfinished Jun ’14).
The brindle speedster was able to run down kennel mate Zabdon Ferrari (Magic Sprite x Awesome Knocka May ’14) right on the line in 29.82.
Split Image took her record to 16 wins from 42 starts, with her prize money now in excess of $186,000 for Brett and owner George Kairouz.
“She has always been in the background a bit, some people forget that she has won two group 2s and now the Rockhampton Cup so she has been a fantastic little girl,” Brett said.
Split Image has now won four in a row, having also taken out the Rockhampton Grand Prix in the lead up to the Cup – not bad for a bitch which was facing the prospect of retirement this time last month.
“There was one race where she led Cyndie’s Magic by about 10 lengths and got beat a head on the line – getting beat like that must have done something to her because she seemed to switch off after that run and she went a bit stale,” Brett explained.
“It’s easy to understand why that happens – she has been racing in best eight fields which are pretty much the same dogs every week.
“They probably have a bit on her timewise so when she leads them and gets run down it would have to be hard for a little girl like her – I think she lost a bit of confidence.
“The change really did her good – she hasn’t looked back and I am hoping now that she has a bit of confidence up it will arbour well when she does go back to Albion Park.”
Zabdon Ferrari and Split Image will now head towards the National Sprint series, as will her brother Thirty Talks which returned to the race track on Monday after seven months on the sidelines.
The brindle powerhouse missed the start off box four on Monday and copped plenty of interference in the early stages, running on to finish third.
“What a welcome back to racing that was,” Brett quipped.
“He missed it a bit at the start and was the meat in the sandwich early on. He was lucky to stay on his feet so I am just glad he made it around safe and that he chased nice and hard.
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“He is a little bit sore from the run today, but it is nothing major – he seems to have pulled up well.
“It would have been nice to see him win, but after seven months off the main thing was just to get that run under his belt ahead of the Nationals heats.”
The luckless run followed two wins in his heat and semi-final of the series, with Brett pleased with how his sprinter handled the step up in class.
“I am over the moon with him and how he performed throughout the series,” he said.
“Unfortunately, he didn’t begin well in the final, but it was the first time he had competed in a race like that and I think he got a bit overwhelmed by all the people and commotion pre-race because he was star-gazing a little bit on the way to the boxes.
“Whether that was what caused him to miss the start who knows, but it was a good learning experience for him.”
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Brett said Opal Nera will not be seen again until the Queensland Sprint heats, where he is hoping his early pace will put him in good stead for a crack at the National decider.
“The runs at The Meadows really toughened him up and I think he is starting to really mature into a nice dog.
“Obviously its another big just up in class for him, but the series is on his home track and he is a get out and go type of dog so if he can lead they’ve got to catch him.”