IT WAS a massive weekend for brilliant speedster Star Recall, taking out the 2014 WA Greyhound of the Year title on Sunday night, just 24 hours after qualifying for her second Group 1 Perth Cup final.
Trained throughout most of the year by Linda Britton, who won the leading trainer award, the daughter of High Earner and No Recall notably ran third in the 2014 Perth Cup final and second in the Group 1 National Sprint Championship behind Chica Destacada.
Later in the year, Star Recall was transferred to Linda’s brother Jeff Britton to continue her career in Victoria where she made the final of the Melbourne Cup and took out the Group 1 Sale Cup over 650 metres.
Owner Kevin Dover was delighted with the announcement his bonny bitch had won the state’s highest accolade.
“You never know how these things are going to turn out but I was glad when they announced that she had won it because she definitely deserved it with all of her achievements,” Dover said.
“I was a little bit unsure if she would win it because all of her achievements in Melbourne didn’t count because she was under another trainer.
“But she was pretty consistent, she made 12 finals, she started off in the Sandgroper and then went on to the Perth Cup and then just continued on with it through the year.”
Star Recall defeated former kennel-mate Zelemar Fever and Cannington specialist On Coin to take out the title.
Sunday’s function was made even sweeter for Dover when he selected box one for Star Recall in this Saturday night’s Perth Cup final. The black chaser was an all-the-way victor from box three in her qualifier last week, running a quick 30.17 over the 530-metre trip.
It was a remarkable effort to ping the lids like she did, with her heat run just her second start since dropping back in trip after a highly successful middle-distance campaign.
“Her last race was on New Year’s Day, she won over the 595 at Sandown Park and then she didn’t have another start until her Cup Prelude the week prior at Cannington,” Dover said.
“She has nailed the start both weeks even though she was dropping back in distance. If she can do it again this week from the red and stay out of trouble on the first bend then she should be pretty hard to catch.”
Dover believes her experience over a longer trip is helping her run out the testing 530-metre Cannington trip a lot better.
“She has always been good at the start and the second split but now she is finishing off her races and is getting stronger from racing over 600 – so she is not going to be running out of steam coming down the straight, that’s for sure.”
Star Recall has won her past five racetrack appearances and 29 from 47 overall. She will face some tough opponents in this week’s $140,000-to-the-winner final including My Bro Fabio, which has drawn box eight after a phenomenal last-to-first display to win his heat last week.
Dover is aware the race is filled with fast greyhounds, but remains optimistic his pride and joy will perform well.
“With My Bro Fabio out in the eight, if he gets held up a bit she could get a winning break going down the back. If she can run under 30 seconds there isn’t going to be much that can run her down. If he can then he deserves it.
“But there are other good ones in it — Astronomize is in the two so if Star misses it slightly then he can get in front of her and he is certainly quick enough. Paul Stuart has three in it and even the one John Carmody has got, Downlight, he is a good dog, too.
“It is going to be full-on at the first turn, we have just got to hope that everyone gets around safely and if she is first across the line then that will be fantastic.”
Dover believes Star Recall is a better race dog than this time last year when she placed third in the Perth Cup final. Starting 2014 with just her maiden race win, she has certainly come along in leaps and bounds.
“It has only been a year since she won the Sandgroper at Mandurah, at the time we were pleased with that and thinking it would be nice if she could make it to Cannington and win a few on the city track.
“Before we knew it she had won her heat of the Perth Cup and the following week she was in the final. It all happened so fast and we couldn’t believe it.
“As each month goes on she has got better, she keeps making the step up. She has been racing against the best dogs, she missed going through her grades because she was good enough to be going in the Group races.
“By going to Victoria she has matured and settled down. The first time that she went over there after the Perth Cup last year she was young and jumping around going silly and just wouldn’t settle. Since the last trip and going to Jeff she has settled down and grown up and she is really putting it together now.”
Dover said Star Recall would return to Victoria with Jeff Britton after the Perth Cup final after receiving invitations for both the Temlee and Rookie Rebel. While a final decision is yet to be made, he said they were leaning more towards the 600-metre Group 1 on February 21.
Dover was also full of praise for Jeff and Linda Britton, who is facing 18 months on the sidelines after Zelemar Fever returned a positive swab.
“I stayed with Jeff at the start of her Melbourne Cup campaign. He is very good with how he treats his dogs and his staff treat them very well and Star has really taken to their place.
“We will definitely be staying in contact with Linda … It is easy for me as the owner to sit back and watch her go around, but you see the amount of work that goes into it and the way that Linda treats all her dogs, they all look up to her and they admire her as much as she admires them.
“The job that she has done with Star Recall is fantastic and now Jeff is taking over to carry on, I think Linda is still going to get a lot of joy out of seeing her win and she deserves a lot of the credit, that’s for sure.”