New Zealand greyhound racing is getting ready to celebrate the richest dog race ever held in the country, the $250,000 Platinum Paws.
However, the Australians are here in force, eager to spoil the party.
Six elimination heats over 520m will be held at Addington today. The first four dogs in each will go through to the semi-finals next week, leading up to the historic feature, which will coincide with the 100th official year of greyhound racing in New Zealand.
Allan Britton has arrived from Melbourne with two reasons why it could turn out to be an Aussie victory party. One is Que Sera Sera, a Group One winner in Australia which has already qualified for the semi-finals. The other is the dog that will attract most interest in today’s heats, Lynlea’s King (1.53pm).
Dave Irwin, of Brisbane, has another in-form Australian, Size Can Matter (3.08pm).
Britton says he is only the caretaker trainer for his two charges, which are prepared by Angela Langton in Melbourne, partner of Britton’s son, Jeff.
However, as caretaker trainers go, they do not get much better than Allan Britton.
“I’m really retired now. I trained them myself for around 50 years but am just over here looking after these two for the family,” says Britton, 74.
In that time he became one of the best-known greyhound trainers in Australia. He also spent time in Macau in the 1980s.
“I had a lot of good dogs but no great ones. I did it all from whelping them to training then, and, at one stage, I was doing all those stages at the same time. I found that doesn’t work. If you are training them, concentrate on training them,” Britton says.
“I had up to 60 dogs in training at one time, but toward the end I cut right back.”
His legacy is remarkable. Daughter Linda, based in Perth, trained more winners (348) than any other dog trainer in Australia in 2007 and has been the leading trainer in Western Australia for nine successive years.
She has sent over Rapala Boy for the series to race from the local kennel of Craig Roberts, although he has had some travelling issues.
“It was a long way to fly and he didn’t have it easy. He is coming right now and I just hope I can get him into the final,” Roberts says.
Rapala Boy, which won a Group Two race over 750m in Perth, will probably remain in New Zealand for the New Zealand Cup in November.
Britton’s son, Robert, was the leading trainer in Victoria last season and Jeff is a leading trainer there in his own right, beside the dogs officially prepared by Langton.
That was underlined when Lynlea’s King was taken into Addington for a look at the track last week. On his own, he rumbled around the 520m in 30.05. Only one dog opposing him today, Cool Groovy, has gone faster than that in a race. Lynlea’s King has won three of six starts from box five. He clashes with last week’s Group One Waterloo Cup winner in Auckland, Magic Spike.
There will be plenty of local opposition for the visitors with a long line of hopefuls filling up the six heats. Craig Roberts, at whose kennels the Brittons are based, can certainly stake a claim.
Atlantic Bale (2.18pm) and Turbine Bale (3.52pm) are two dogs which, he thinks, will be more than competitive.
Local greyhound fans are bound to be cheering for the Dave and Jean Fahey-trained Winsome Ashley, the darling of the greyhound world last season which has been fighting to regain her best form this time in after a setback.
Courtesy : David McCarthy, press.co.nz