GIFFARD West trainer Steve Creighton is still pinching himself after his bonny bitch Narralee saluted in Thursday night’s Group 1 Sapphire Crown (515m) at Sandown Park, giving the veteran trainer his first win at the highest level after more than four decades in the sport.
Starting from box two in the $100,000 event, Narralee went straight to the early lead, but had to hold off a challenge from race favourite Folio Bale (box one) throughout the majority of the event, kicking back along the fence in the home straight to score by a head in 29.47.
“She is a real competitor and she is a very hard chasing little dog,” Creighton told Australian Racing Greyhound.
“There were a few nervous moments throughout the run and I just remember cheering ‘C’mon baby’ – that’s all I was saying.
“I couldn’t see anything from behind the boxes but I looked up at the TV screen just in time to see that she had held on by a head and I was just ecstatic.
“It has been a long haul to get her back to the track so it was very exciting and it was a pretty emotional night for myself and the family.”
The victory completed a remarkable comeback for the daughter of Aston Galilee and Prince’s Faye, which suffered a career-threatening injury in July last year. The black bitch was then mated to Glen Gallon, but as fate would have it, she missed when being served, speeding up her return to the track and enabling her to compete in the series.
“She tore her achilles in the final of the Coca Cola Classic at Sale after running two tenths off the record in her heat,” Creighton recalled.
“We knew the leg was coming good month by month, but it took us a long time to get her back – we had to do a lot of work to get her leg right.
“I have to thank Kel Greenough as he helped a lot with her – to see her come back and do this is just amazing.”
It was also a rewarding win for Creighton, his wife Melissa and daughter Amy who bred Narralee, as well as the greyhound’s owners, Linda Gray and her sons Liam and Jordan, who preserved throughout her recovery.
Despite the glitz and glam of winning one of the nation’s most prestigious races, Creighton was also quick to give credit back to his star performer.
“The dog did it all – anyone can train a good dog – if you do the right thing by them they will do the right thing by you.
“With that being said it is still to win it. After all these years to now be a group 1 trainer – it’s just finally being able achieve something you have always wanted to and to finally reach that level of success.”