While the glitz and glamour of the Group 2 Country Motor Company Puppy Classic final unfolds on Thursday night, Peter Baker will be 4000km away in Western Australia. However, his daughter Lani will be trackside to receive the trophy if her favourite greyhound, affectionately known as ‘Jessie’, can take out the big one. Baker’s nickname for his daughter is ‘Lani Banarni’ and that is how Jessie came to get her race name.
Lani Banarni is trained by Charlie Gatt and owned by both Baker and Gatt. The black bitch by Disintergrate ex. Hey Princess has drawn Box 7 in the final.
“Lani Banarni has a good temperament and is quiet, laid back and loves to get out and run. She is an easy dog to train and broke in above average at Glengarry. Like all Disintergrate pups, they virtually break themselves in.”
When discussing Lani Banarni’s chances Baker explained, “She is better suited out wide, although she did utilise the one box well in her heat. Coming into the race she was underdone as she was on the comeback from a seasonal spell. She is hitting her peak and can go a bit quicker then what she ran last night.” Lani Banarni clocked 29.98 in her semi-final to be the second fastest qualifier through to the final.
Baker sees Exhibitionist as the biggest threat in next week’s final and acknowledges that there is a bit of speed in the race. He is hopeful that his chaser can get a clear run into the first turn, especially considering that Lachlan Bomber, who has drawn Box 8, tends to stay wide.
It is quite possible that Baker and Gatt could have had another runner in the final next week. Their greyhound Unleash De Fear (Disintergrate ex. Unleash De Elite) tore his back muscle in a post to post trial at Dapto preparing for the series. In the lead-up to Dapto, Unleash De Fear had won the Goulburn and Grafton legs of the Dapto puppy auction race and in the Grafton final had defeated Exhibitionist, who will line up as one of the favourites in Lani Banarni’s race next Thursday. Lani Banarni herself made the final of the Lithgow leg of the Dapto puppy auction race but struck trouble in the final.
Lani Banarni is sired by Baker’s own stud dog Disintegrate, who has done very well at stud from limited litters. Nosey Rozy (nine wins from 12 starts including a sizzling 29.60 at Wentworth Park and 22.33 at Bulli) has been his best performed pup to date. He has a few more litters coming through that are close to hitting the track, with pups from the Hanify’s Elite litter worth keeping an eye out for. Baker explained that Disintegrate has now been sold to China and left Australia’s shores a fortnight ago. “It was a very upsetting decision to sell Jack (Disintegrate). We had him since he was a pup and had kept him here for breeders, but he wasn’t being used much and the offer was too good to refuse. There’s limited straws in Australia that are available to purchase.”
There’s no doubting that it will be an emotion charged night for Baker. But the selfless owner not once mentions the $75,000 first prize. To him, the smile on his daughter’s face and the reward for his long time trainer and good friend Charlie Gatt is what it’s all about.
“I’d love to see her win, not just for my daughter but for Charlie as well. He puts so much effort and work into the dogs and has a real liking for her.”
If Jessie lands the big prize you may well hear Peter cheering all the way from Western Australia.