Final Bell shocked plenty of people when he scored an emphatic victory at Wentworth Park on Monday night, none more so than his co-trainer, Brad Barnes.
Beginning flawlessly from box three at $25.10, Final Bell posted a slick 5.39 first section en route to his dazzling 30.04 best-of-the-night performance.
Barnes, who trains from South Windsor with his mother Leonie, said while he always knew Final Bell was capable of a big performance at headquarters, he wasn’t expecting it on Monday evening.
“I didn’t think he would go very well in that field,” he said. ”As a pup he broke 30 down there in trials and he still goes 22.50 at Richmond in trials, but last week he was in a Masters and then he goes into a 4/5th Grade, so I didn’t hold much hope for him.”
The win was Final Bell’s second in succession. The black greyhound, known affectionately as Lionel, triumphed with an impressive last-to-first effort at Richmond on January 3. That win broke a 26-race losing streak for the son of Bit Chili and Shady Spec, with his career statistics now standing at seven wins and seven minors from 60 starts.
“I was really happy with that run because usually he has to lead, he isn’t the best chaser when he isn’t on the bunny,” Barnes said.
“With that being said I think a lot of the times it may look like he isn’t the best chaser when it may be his injuries playing up on him as well.
“When he was a pup he got half the muscle in his shoulder ripped out so he has had that injury and also a cracked hock. It would have been interesting to see what he would have been like if he didn’t have the shoulder injury.”
Barnes isn’t sure what the secret has been to his recent turnaround.
“I have been playing some little games with him, taking him to the track and not trialling him.
“He also spent nine days on the lead in between wins. After Richmond he pulled up a little bit sore in the shoulder so I couldn’t do anything with him.”
Leonie and Brad, who bred Final Bell, started training him after learning he was going to be retired.
“I asked if I could take him back and he was getting beat at Lithgow, then he cracked a hock and was out for [a couple of] months. When he came back he won in 22.60 at Bulli.
“He won for me at Wentworth Park in late 2013 and his [previous] owner, who lives in Perth, decided that he wanted him to race over there.
“He didn’t go very well over there, I think he fretted for me, so his owner sent him back and signed him over to us.
“Now he spends more time inside on the couch than he does in his kennel.”
It has been a bumpy road to success for Final Bell and Barnes is extremely thankful to his family for all the help he receives, particularly from Leonie, his father Noel and sister Minnie Finn.
“Mum has had dogs for 40 years so she got us all into it. Now she lets me do a lot with them and is happy just to help out. It makes it special having them with mum, she is a big help, so is my dad.
“Minnie also plays a big part, I am on the phone to her every day asking her what to do. John [Finn] has helped me a lot with this dog, too, they give me lots of advice.”
Final Bell will be back in action at Wentworth Park this Saturday where he will contest race nine from box seven.
“I asked Minnie what to do and she said to chuck him back in while he is going well.
“He has box seven which doesn’t help because he does like to crash on to the rail when he jumps, but he went 5.39 early last week so if he can do that again then he should go well.”