Integrity Mate’s owner Allan Hilzinger admits his chaser is not at the lofty heights of She’s A Pearl or Wow She’s Fast, but is happy to declare he shares a similar racing pattern to both champions.
After a slow beginning, the two-year-old’s last start saw him fight back to prevail in the $97,500 Thunderbolt Final at Grafton on June 19.
The way he accelerated up the straight to win by a nose gave Hilzinger faith that his runner will adapt to 520m for trainer Robert Andrews.
“Not that he’s at the level of She’s A Pearl or Wow She’s Fast. But you look at them and say ‘where do they win their races?’” he told australianracinggreyhound.com.
“Those dogs win their races down the back straight, or they just get away and break dogs’ hearts and they pick them up.
“That’s how we’re hoping he goes, but we don’t necessarily know either.”
Despite Hilzinger harbouring unknowns over the longer distance, all indications point to Integrity Mate embracing the step up in his journey.
“Whatever he does in his first run over 520 he’s going to improve on it,” he said.
“So, if he can make it through to the final we’re definitely going to be a lot more confident the second week than the first week.
“He’s not the best out of the boxes – that’s his only blemish. He doesn’t lid-ping.
“But once he gets off the mats he’s got phenomenal speed, and he showed that in his sections when he was going well over 450 at Grafton (winning six from eight starts from early January to early April).
“So I’m just hoping he gets that clean air in the first 10-15 metres and stays out of trouble.
“That’s probably my biggest concern – what happens out of the boxes.
“The biggest thing for him is if he runs the 520, no matter what strength he runs it – as long as he gets the 520.”
It is this kind of attitude – not placing too much pressure on his dog despite him possessing plenty of talent – which also aligns with Andrews’ theory on training greyhounds.
And just as importantly, it’s why they have become good mates.
“The thing about Robbie is he’s such a genuine and authentic guy, and I really like that,” Hilzinger said.
“And every time I’ve spoken to him he speaks about the welfare of the dog.
“If you say ‘I think the dog will win tonight’ he’ll say ‘I think the dog’s well and good’.
“So I became mates with him.”
Along with his attention to detail, Andrews also has no shortage of patience with his greyhounds.
“It’s a testament to him that he has a dog through everything – rearing, pre-training, the lot,” Hilzinger said of his great mate, who has overseen 16 wins from 26 starts and already more than $115,000 in prizemoney with Integrity Male.
“So to bring him through the way he’s done it, he’s definitely placed him phenomenally.
“He hasn’t tried to rush him. A big theory of his is too many people try to rush their dogs.
“As he said – we want to be racing in the Golden Easter Eggs and the Melbourne Cups when the dog’s peaking at three years old.
“We’ll take on this dog now because he’s earned his opportunity. But there’s no point trying to push your dog over the 520 against the best of the best before they’re ready.
“And by the time they’re three years old they’re back racing in fifth grades because they’re just broken down or struggling with injuries.
“So it’s a testament to him (Andrews) on how he’s done it.”