STAR Recall captured the second group 1 win of her career on Saturday night at The Meadows, taking out the Australian Stayers Cup (727m) 435 days after she claimed victory in the 2014 Group 1 Sale Cup (650m).
Trained by Jeff Britton, Star Recall was lining up for its 70th start on Saturday night and began as the $2.10 favourite from box five.
The daughter of High Earner and No Recall stepped swiftly from the middle alley and was never headed throughout the event, holding off a late challenge from Esparza (box three) to score by 0.34 lengths in 42.47.
Owner Kevin Dover, who watched the event from home in WA, said the race wasn’t run as how he had imagined, with the Anthony Azzopardi-trained No Donuts (box two) expected to take the early lead.
“Ideally we thought No Donuts would lead and we would get a sit one or two lengths behind him and then come home over the top,” Dover told Australian Racing Greyhound.
“We were pretty confident after her run the week before that she could run No Donuts down if he led her.
“The biggest concern for us was Ima Misha Doll on her outside – we didn’t want her to ping out and block her run.
“As it turns out the race didn’t unfold that way – she was able to get clear early after she pinged out.
“It was a close finish – Esparza was back in the field and absolutely flew home on the turn, although it didn’t give us much time to get concerned because it came from nowhere so quickly.
“Looking back the last 30m made it very close.”
Star Recall took her record to 40 wins on Saturday night, with the black bitch now boasting over $445,000 in career earnings.
However, it hasn’t all been smooth sailing and Dover almost considered retiring his prized performer when her confidence was shaken up following a heavy fall in the 2015 Group 1 Rookie Rebel at The Meadows.
Following her tumble, it took Star Recall a long time to return to her best, with Dover admitting it was touch and go whether she would ever be the same chaser again.
However, Star Recall is now racing as good as ever, having won her last six starts for Britton over the middle distance and staying trips.
“She was a bit unsettled and it was a struggle to get her head right after she took a nasty fall in last year’s Rookie Rebel,” Dover explained.
“When she came back home (to WA) she had a couple of runs and she was thereabouts at Mandurah – but then all of a sudden she put a couple together over the 647.
“After that we made the decision to get her back over to Jeff to have another go at the (2015) Sale Cup and we thought if she did no good we would probably retire her afterwards.
“She ended up running fourth in her heat but Linda (Britton) suggested to leave her over there for a bit longer to see what Jeff could do, so we preserved, and it has all worked out well.
“I think she was just hearing footsteps still after the fall as she was letting dogs go past her – so it took a lot of work to get her confidence back.
“Jeff has done a great job taking her around the different tracks such as Traralgon, Shepparton and Ballarat to try and get her confidence up and she is racing as good as ever now.”
“She will have a week off now and then we will have a look at what’s around – there is a chance she might go up to Sydney for the staying race on Easter Egg night.
“The way she is going now, her confidence is back up and she is running well, she will let us know when she has had enough.
“She turns four in another four weeks so if anything were to happen, whether it be to her confidence or an injury, we probably wouldn’t be able to get her back up to this level again.
“Now she is just a week to week proposition. We just have to get through one run at a time and look to the next.”
Dover said it has been one hell of a ride with his bonny bitch, who he owns with his wife Carol and daughters Ashley and Karissa.
“For a Christmas present a couple of years ago I gave my daughters and their partners a share in her – so they are pretty chuffed.
“I don’t have any regrets with doing that – it has been nice to experience it all as a family – and it is good to see them benefit financially out of it as well.
“She has been a remarkable bitch for us – we couldn’t be any happier with her and what she has done throughout her career.”