LISA Cockerell has a double shot of landing Thursday night’s Group 2 Laurels Classic (515 metres) at Sandown Park with talented litter sisters Polijuice Potion (box four) and Rolanda Hooch (box eight).
The daughters of Kinloch Brae and Finlandia were bred by Cockerell, with Polijuice Potion the standout of the pair throughout the series, winning both her heat and semi-final in 29.76 and 29.75 respectively.
The black bitch is hitting form at precisely the right time and is heading into this week’s decider as a winner of five of her past six starts.
Cockerell says the bonny bitch is destined for further ground in the coming months and is hopeful Polijuice Potion will mature into a handy stayer.
“She has been going super and she is clearly looking for more ground, but you can’t miss the opportunity in an age restricted series to bring her back to the 500 before we step her up again,” Cockerell told Australian Racing Greyhound.
“She is a very bold bitch – nothing seems to bother her – even if she gets checked she will keep running through it so she is a very nice bitch to have.”
Polijuice Potion, $6 with William Hill, has drawn box four in the $50,000 final, with race favourite It’s All Talk ($2.50) drawn directly on her outside. A winner of all seven starts to date, the Angela Galea-trained bitch clocked a slick 29.52 in her semi-final on Sunday afternoon.
While she remains optimistic of her chances, Cockerell says it will be a tough challenge for Polijuice Potion in the final.
“It is a really tough race. We know she will be finishing on strong but it all depends what happens early – there is a lot of pace around her so I am hoping she might be able to camp in behind them because if she is close to them up the back then she will be coming home all over the top of them.
“The bitches either side of her can really sizzle early and I am hoping that It’s All Talk doesn’t come down on top of her and take her out.”
Also representing team Cockerell is Rolanda Hooch ($26) which snuck into the final by running second behind Sweet Barbados (box three) in her semi over the weekend. The brindle chaser has been a bit of a surprise packet, having also filled the runner-up spot in her heat the week prior.
“We always knew she had ability, but to get through to the final, particularly the way she did it last week, was very encouraging,” Cockerell said.
Cockerall rates It’s All Talk, which is out of another daughter of Finlandia, as one of the dogs to beat in the race, with Polijuice Potion the pick of her pair.
“Ability wise I think they are both very even, but I think Polijuice Potion is a harder chaser than Rolanda Hooch,” she said.
“It’s All Talk looks like she will be the early leader and if there is trouble behind her she will probably be off and gone, and Fantastic Skye is also a serious threat, but then again anything could win it.”
A victory would provide a massive thrill for the Cockerell family, who breed and race many greyhounds carrying monikers from the Harry Potter series, with many years of patience and dedication poured into breeding a terrific line which constantly produces city-class chasers.
Cockerell explained how the line came to be, starting from her beginnings in the sport over 10 years ago.
“My husband Ian has been around greyhounds since he was very young and we met when I was working behind the bar at Geelong greyhounds. From there I started helping out and getting more and more involved and now I have been training dog since 2004.
“Years ago we bought a bitch by the name of Martha Spinco which was my first greyhound and from there we took her to Token Prince and got a very nice litter including Finlandia, Bliksem and White Chocolate – so that was a massive thrill.
“From there Finlandia became our brood bitch and basically all of our pups now are from her or her daughters. She has been a great producer for us, with one of her best being old Cornelius Fudge – he is four and a half and he won in town at the end of last month and ran third at his last start at The Meadows.
“He is a very special dog, he is my daughters best friend. She takes him in the cubby house with her, she brings him inside and you can always see her at the track walking him around in the empty area – he follows her around like a puppy, it is one of the most beautiful things you will ever see.
“Finlandia was our beginning and she has done so much for us, the ride has been absolutely amazing.”
The Cockerell’s made the decision to take a chance on US sire Kinloch Brae for Finlandia’s fourth litter, with the gamble paying off and resulting in some very handy chasers. Also from the litter is the improving Igor Karkaroff which will contest a heat of the Group 1 Silver Chief Classic at The Meadows on Saturday night.
Like all trainers, Cockerell says she has a huge support network behind her, none more helpful than five-year-old twins Taylor and Morgan.
“They are superstar helpers, they love the puppies and going to the races – they are awesome and it is such a nice feeling to be able to do something like this as a family with them.”
The Group 2 Laurels Classic is race six at Sandown Park on Thursday night and is set to jump at 8:48pm AEDT.