74 year old Barry Moloney experienced the biggest thrill of his 42 year involvement within the greyhound racing industry on Saturday night when his brindle powerhouse, Marcus Joe, stormed home to record victory in the group one Hudson Pacific Maturity Classic at The Meadows.
The son of Velocette went into the race as one of the outsiders ($15) after qualifying in second position in both his heat and semi-final. Whilst he never exuded confidence before the race Moloney acknowledged that Marcus Joe had been unlucky throughout the series.
“I wasn’t overly confident”, Moloney said, “But I knew he had a chance like the others in the race”.
“He was a bit unlucky in his heat, his first split was 5.01 which was the best of the night and he was in a pretty good place on the first turn but he had box seven and got knocked back to third around the corner before he ran his way into second place”.
“He had an inside box in his semi but he missed it by what seemed like 2 ½ lengths and had to play catch up to finish 1 ½ lengths second to Schroder Bale. He went past some good dogs so I thought it was a darn good run. He also got belted in the pen that night and we had to do some therapy with him to get him right for the final but come Thursday he was a lot better in himself”.
Lining up from box three for the $100,000 to the winner decider, nobody expected Marcus Joe to spear the lids quite like he did when recording a scintillating first split of 4.96 seconds in the run to the turn.
Moloney said he knew going into the final what his 32 kilogram youngster had to do to be in with a chance but was not expecting him to fire from the boxes as explosively as he did.
“I didn’t expect it. He did run 5.01 in his heat but he was nearly a length quicker on Saturday night”.
“I knew that he would have to do that early or he would be swallowed up by the rest of the field but the doubt was whether he could do it- and he did. It was fantastic!”.
Once he was out in front of the field and well clear from his opposition Marcus Joe never looked in danger. On the home turn the fast finishing Dyna Nalin was closing quickly after being shuffled back early in the race however by that point Moloney and Marcus Joe were home, stretching out to score by one and one quarter lengths in an exhilarating 29.66 seconds.
“When he hit the lead I thought ‘this is where we will find out what he is made of”.
“I knew my bloke was strong and although Dyna Nalin is a smart dog I was still confident he would find the line when they went past us at the 525 metre boxes”.
“The time was amazing although a few weeks before he had run 29.50 at Sandown”.
“It showed that when things go his way he can certainly take advantage of them”.
The race was especially sentimental for Moloney and his wife Barbara, not only as their first group one win but after breeding the litter themselves.
“We raced the dam (Mojo Glory) and she was quite a smart bitch. She came down from Newcastle and we raced her for Ray Watson and purchased her after she retired for breeding. She won on both city tracks down here and used to contest 600 metre races but she was also very good over the short course”.
Marcus Joe was one of ten from Mojo Glory’s second litter, with the first litter to Collision whelped in 2009. Moloney advertised the pups as youngsters but received little response, with Marcus Joe never in the running for a new home after being kept by Moloney due to an injury sustained as a pup.
“She whelped ten and that was too many for me as we had some from the first litter that were already racing so we put them up for sale”, Moloney explained.
“I advertised them when they were young, just ear-branded, for $2000 and didn’t get one phone call”.
“He (Marcus Joe) cracked a patella at 10-12 weeks of age and was limping and carried that leg for a long time and I had to separate him. When people came to look at them I would put him away because I didn’t want to sell anything only ordinary but he has come along well and you wouldn’t know it now”.
“Most of them I ended up selling to friends and every dog from the litter has won races”.
One in particular, Mr Jachary, is owned and trained by young enthusiast Phil Thomson.
“I gave him to Phil but he didn’t have a license at that stage so I trained him until it went through. Phil is as keen as mustard and a real nice bloke with a young family. He trains him now and he came out at Warrnambool last week and won in pretty reasonable time”.
With the excitement finally sinking in from the big night, Moloney has now had time to reflect on the win and what it means to him to triumph within the industry he loves so dearly.
“We have never had a crack at this level before. It is a lot of prizemoney but you put a lot of time, effort and expenses into it so it is good to be rewarded”.
“It is a great sport but the big races don’t get shared around too often these days- the big trainers normally get most of them so it just goes to prove that the hobby trainers can get their go too”.
“We are thrilled”.
Whilst it is enjoyable to watch Australia’s big trainers score with the boom youngsters that we enviably wish were sitting in our kennels, it is equally if not more inspiring to see the small trainers that have poured their heart and soul into their chasers experience their moment in the spotlight. This was precisely the case for Barry Moloney who may have waited over four decades for his first group race win but, with Marcus Joe, may experience the thrill again in months to come.