Not many greyhounds can truly be described as life changing.
But for his 25 year old trainer Correy Grenfell, that’s exactly what Orson Allen was.
The six time group race winner was retired last week and immediately departed for Meticulous Lodge where he will soon commence stud duties.
“There were a few tears, the emotion gets to you,” said Grenfell soon after ‘Orsy’ left their Mount Wallace property.
“He had been with us for so long and he’s been such a big part of our lives. At the same time, as disappointing as it is when the time comes – and we knew it would come – it is exciting that he goes into his stud career and see what he can produce.”
Grenfell has been training greyhounds since 2013 and like so many in the sport, met his wife Samantha at the track. The couple had moderate success prior to Orson Allen’s arrival in early 2018, but it was the fawn flyer that put him on the training map.
“He’s pretty much bought us this property, between him and Dyna Chancer,” said Grenfell.
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“He’s put us in the spotlight in terms of what we can do when it comes to training dogs. He’s definitely life changing that’s a great way to put it, he’s helped to set up our young family.
“We’re very proud of him and what we were able to accomplish together.”
Bred by leviathan breeder Paul Wheeler, Orson Allen arrived with big wraps in early 2018 and he quickly showed why.
“Brendan (Wheeler, Paul’s son) told me he broke in real quick. His first trial for us he felt his way around the track but from his second trial at Geelong we knew that we had something special.
“The times he put on the board during pretraining we knew he had group class potential, but during his pretraining he didn’t give the impression of a dog that could run 500m. But he kept improving and improving, we were just hoping that he could take it from the trial track to the race track.”
The answer came on 18 April 2018 when Orson Allen ran a slick 29.81 on debut at the Meadows, and he franked that form with a 30.01 win in the maiden final 10 days later.
He lined up in the first of his 17 group finals at his 13th career start, running 4th to Vanderworp in the Bendigo Cup, and frustratingly be placed in three more before finally breaking through in the Shootout.
Lining up for his third start in just eight days, Orson Allen took out the ‘speed championship of Australia’ when leading all of the way against some of the fastest sprinters in the country to claim the winner-takes-all prize in 29.191. The win not only confirmed his status as one of the country’s most exciting greyhounds, but gave Grenfell his first group race win as a trainer.
“The Shootout turned him around. Box draws hadn’t really favoured him in the big races but that format (a four dog field) takes a bit of luck out of it.
“It was the biggest race we had won at that stage and a real thrill that he had won it. Brendan Wheeler compared him to Dyna Lachlan – it took him while to get one but once he did he kept on going with it.”
And go on with it he did. Orson Allen ran third in a TAB Melbourne Cup heat the following week, then third in the group 3 Cup Night Sprint on Cup night. After a luckless campaign in Tasmania, he returned to the mainland where he raced exclusively in group race company, establishing himself as the country’s premier sprinter.
In 25 starts in 2019, he contested 13 group race series, making 10 finals and winning five including the group 1 Perth Cup, Grenfell’s first at the highest level of the sport.
“His win in the final was the run we were most pleased with. To finally break through at that level was a huge thrill, he really deserved to win a big one. The trip to Hobart didn’t go to plan and we ummed and ahhed about whether or not to go to Perth, but we did and he got with half a length of the track record at his first look at the track which just showed the class of the dog.”
Orson Allen finished his career with 31 wins from 61 starts with 18 of those wins coming in the fastest time of the night, including 12 of his 15 wins in 2019. He broke the track record at Horsham, and went within three lengths of the track record at Sandown Park, the Meadows, Cannington, Cranbourne and Ballarat. But it wasn’t just his brilliant speed that separated him from his peers.
“He’s by far the best kennel dog we’ve ever had. Just a professional about everything he did. All the little things, he did everything spot on.
“He raced week in week out for about 12 months and never pulled up sore, he was a very sound dog.”
While a second tilt at the TAB Melbourne Cup was being planned, a hamstring injury eventually put an end to his career on the track. And while greyhound racing fans will no longer get to see him on the track, the son of KC And All and Desalle Bale is certain to make his mark in the stud ranks.
“In a perfect world we would have gone onto the Melbourne Cup, that’s what we talked about months and months ago.
“Prior to his hamstring he had never had an injury. He would have had to have a month off and wouldn’t have been ideal, and that’s one of the reasons we decided to retire him, it wouldn’t be fair on him or anyone else to have him go around below his best.
“The demand for him at stud – it’s been crazy to be honest and has been since before he won the Perth Cup. People were already asking the question about how much for a straw, we were always getting phone calls and messages asking when he would be available at stud. It was amazing the demand for a dog that hadn’t won a group 1 at that stage.
“We’re looking forward to training some of his pups in the future.”