Trained by Ruth Matic, Black Bear Lee was only fair to begin from box three and was caught midfield in the back straight, finding the fence in the run around the turn to sit in fourth spot.
Pedro Cerrano led the field swinging for home, with Black Bordeaux and One Samuel gaining momentum along the outside, however Black Bear Lee was able to find a gap between runners, bursting through to assume the front and drawing clear to score by one-and-one-quarter lengths in a quick 26.22.
Matic said the race was run completely different to how she had imagined it, but says she was still thrilled with the end result.
“You can never predict how the race is going to be run, but I thought he could lead the race as the dogs either side of him, although they are very strong, aren’t known for their early pace,” Matic told Australian Racing Greyhound.
“He didn’t jump as well as I thought he could and he found himself back in fourth spot on the first corner.
“When that happened I thought it was all over as we had talked about it and said to win the race he would have to lead because there was a lot of strength in it.
“I was really surprised how well he ran it out and he showed a lot of common sense to weave his way through the field.”
Matic said it was a rewarding victory for her chaser who she had mainly considered a two turn dog up until his victory on Friday night.
“It was great to see him go up to the next level and win a Group 2,” she said.
“Two group 3s are nice but they don’t really prove that you are one of the better dogs going around.
“It was terrific, especially to do it on a one turn track, we always thought he was a good Wenty dog, so it shows his versatility and proves he can match it on the bigger tracks with all the speed dogs.”
The regally bred son of Brett Lee and Paua of Love also provided some happiness for his owner, Jason Lymbery, who suffered the loss of his father in late 2015.
“He lost his dad in December who had been into greyhounds all his life,” Matic said.
“Jason followed suit and he said that every time one of his dogs raced his dad would ring him up – irregardless of whether the dog won – to talk about the race.
“Jason says he misses the phone call whenever the dogs are racing, spending half an hour every morning talking dogs over a coffee.
“It was great to see him win on Friday for him and he was pretty teary after the race.”
Moving forward, Matic said she will bypass the upcoming Group 2 Richmond Derby (535m) and will instead get her charge ready for a tilt at the Group 1 Golden Easter Egg (520m) heats, which will be run at Wentworth Park on March 12.
“We will miss Richmond as I think it will be too much for him,” Matic explained.
“If we were to put him in that series and then the Egg he could potentially be racing for seven weeks in a row in really hard group races.
“You just can’t expect him to do that, especially when the final week would be the race you want to win the most.
“He’ll now have a couple of easy weeks and we’ll just focus on having him completely right for the Egg.”
Matic, along with husband Matt and daughter Danielle, has trained a plethora of high class chasers such as Bit Chili, World Park Ned, Tap Dance, Mountain Of Love, Hurricane Luke, Persian Belle, Kedo’s Millie, Faithful Love and Catmandoo, and says it is hard to compare greyhounds from different eras, but puts Black Bear Lee up there with the best she has trained.
“Before he came along we had won half a dozen group races, but never with the same dog.
“This fella has now won three for us so I guess that sums it up.”
Relive Black Bear Lee (3) winning the 2016 Cyril Rowe Cup.