GEOFF and Leanne Grimwood are praying for an inside box for their talented greyhound Aston Ebert (Magic Sprite x Aston Carmelita Jan '14) which is set to contest Friday's Group 3 Casino Cup over 484m.
The black greyhound, owned by Ray Borda, was a strong heat winner last Friday, railing strongly after missing the start to score by five and one quarter lengths over Tusksa (Magic Sprite x Orara Maree Sep '14) in 28.05.
Grimwood, who trains from a small country town called Martins Creek in the Hunter Valley, says it came as no surprise to see his gun chaser qualify for the $25,000 feature.
“We gave him a chance from box two because he is a good little railer and it didn't look to be the strongest heat on paper,” Grimwood told Australian Racing Greyhound.
“Even though he missed the start a bit in his heat I knew he was a big chance once he found the fence because he is a good little chaser and a very honest dog – he doesn't give up when he is behind other dogs.”
The heat win took Aston Ebert's career statistics to 22 wins, 14 seconds and 12 thirds from 76 starts, with his prize money earnings now closing in on $80,000.
Having started his career in Victoria under the care of Jason Thompson, Aston Ebert has now won 13 races under the care of Grimwood and has given him some of his biggest thrills within the sport.
“It would be great to win it. We've been lucky to get this little fella – we've had a really good ride with him over the past 12 months and he really deserves to win a nice feature race like the Casino Cup.”
Grimwood, who will make the arduous journey north on Thursday, says he gives Aston Ebert a genuine chance of bagging the riches if he can draw a decent box for the decider.
“He has probably lost a bit of the early speed he had 12 months ago but I put that down to him having a bit of age on him now,” Grimwood said.
“But he is still racing well and I give him a big chance if he can draw an inside box.
“If he can get onto the fence he'll be right in it – he is a good little chaser so if he gets a bit of luck I think he can go as good as he did in his heat if not better.”
A win would be a massive achievement for the Grimwoods who have a large investment in the sport, having purchased a property which they are aiming to use to turn their hobby into their livelihoods.
“We've been tinkering around with the greyhounds for a while now and we have moved to a property where we are now breeding our own dogs and starting to get a bit more serious,” he said.
“We currently have 10 race kennels, but we only have five in work at the moment – we also have four pups which are getting broken-in in November and another three pups which are four months old so we have plenty there to keep us busy.”
The Casino Cup is sure to be an exciting race, with some of the best greyhounds from the Northern Rivers region qualifying for the final.
The fastest qualifier was Queenslander Snug (Fabregas x Befitting May '15) which stopped the clock in 27.92 for Darren Russell, with the remaining heats taken out by Terra Torra (Don't Knocka Him x Kingsbrae Sam Nov '14) in 27.93, Cosmic Bonus (Cosmic Rumble x Dark And Stormy Dec '14) in 28.11 and Feisty Fie (Where's Pedro x Fie Fie Jan '14) in 28.24.