NZ star sprinter Swimming Goat retired

Swimming Goat has been retired. PIC: GRNZ.

CULT hero Swimming Goat (El Grand Senor x Kingsbrae Molly Jan ’14) has been retired after dropping a back muscle at Addington on Thursday night.

Owned in the Northern Rivers region of NSW by Allan Lang, the red fawn dog started his career in Australia, winning four of his first 11 starts before making the move to New Zealand and joining the kennels of Rangiora trainer Calum Weir.

The move turned out to be a masterstroke, with Swimming Goat going on to triumph 57 times from 89 starts with a further 21 placings, retiring with three group 1s, a track record and $135,000 beside his name.

Weir still can’t believe the 29-kilogram dog which hopped off the plane back in March 2016 has changed his life so much.

“He was the first dog I trained for Allan,” Weir told Australian Racing Greyhound.

“Kel Greenough had sent me a dog named Avondale Al – he broke the Gosford track record but unfortunately he chipped his hock at his first start in NZ so we retired him as a pet.

“After that Kel messaged me to say his friend Allan had a dog which sprinted well but struggled to run out the 411m at Casino and the rest is history.

“As it turns out it was the best thing to have happened to us.”

Swimming Goat went on to become one of the highest profile greyhounds NZ has ever seen thanks to a cult following on social media. His longest winning streak was a gob-smacking 22 races.

Weir said straight away he knew he had something special, but he never expected the fawn flash to be as popular as he was.

“We slipped him up our straight and knew then we had a good one – he was just so focused and only had eyes for the lure.

“To win 22 on end was incredible – we had one which won eight in a row once, but 22 is something I never thought would happen.

“I think it was a combination of his name and his brilliant speed which got him so much attention – and it really made it an amazing journey for myself and also for Allan.”

Weir named his second Galaxy win as the highlight of Swimming Goat’s career, claiming the $32,500 race last November.

“He was lucky enough to win the both of the group races for short course sprinters – the Galaxy and then the Railway at Auckland which was an 18-hour drive for us,” he said.

“A year later he came back to win the Galaxy again after multiple injuries which had cost him that brilliant electric pace.

“He wasn’t at his brilliant best at the time, but he had a big heart and he was good enough to win despite being nearly four years of age.”

Swimming Goat will now retire and live a life of luxury with Weir, who also plans to stand him at stud. He is impeccably bred, being out of Kingsbrae Molly (Elite State x Kingsbrae Di Mar ’11) – a litter sister to Lang’s former champion racer Paw Licking.

Paw Licking was trained in Victoria by Kel Greenough, winning the 2013 Group 1 Hobart Thousand, the 2013 Group 2 Traralgon Cup, the 2014 Group 2 Shepparton Cup and the 2014 Group 2 Maitland Cup.

Kingsbrae Molly is also a maternal sister to Allkel To Excel (x Elite State) which won the Group 2 Healesville Cup and Weekend Binge (x El Grand Senor) which won the 2016 Group 3 SA Derby.

Weir thanked Lang for his support and the opportunity to train Swimming Goat, while he was also grateful to Greenough.

“The last three seasons have been incredible for us since I gave up bricklaying to train full-time and Swimming Goat has been life-changing,” he explained.

“We don’t have a massive number of dogs, but we do have a quality team and a lot of thanks has to go to Kel for that – he and his owners have given us plenty of support with some nice dogs.

“If it wasn’t for Kel I’d probably be back bricklaying.”

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