WEST On Augie (Fernando Bale x Te Amo Feb ’16) stamped himself as the hottest youngster in WA with a brilliant win in Saturday’s $30,000 Puppy Classic final (520m) at Cannington.
Trained by Chris Halse and Linda Britton, West On Augie jumped as the $1.20 favourite off box two and was able to overcome a slow start and early trouble, railing through into second down the back.
Despite being five lengths off the leader, Owl Perfect (Fernando Bale x Sharkey Flash Feb ’16), the fawn dog never gave in, charging to the line to win by one and three quarter lengths in a handy 30.03.
Poppy Monelli (Fabregas x Jackie Bale Feb ’16) finished third ahead of Pinny Mack (Cosmic Rumble x Flying Sienna Mar ’16) which got going again to grab fourth after running off on the first turn.
Kennel representative Luke Townsend was full of praise for the two-year-old pup after the event – the first time West On Augie had come from behind throughout his 18-start career.
“There haven’t been many times he has been behind the other dogs in his life, so I think it took him a while to figure out what to do when they got in front of him,” Townsend told Australian Racing Greyhound.
“[Saturday] night he actually went around a dog and shot clear for the first time – earlier in his career he might have dropped off a bit when he got behind them.
“It’s awesome to see him learning what it’s all about and starting to put it all together – it was a big win.”
West On Augie has now won 12 races with four minor placings, his career earnings already in excess of $40,000.
He is bred to run, being out of Britton and Halse’s former top chaser Te Amo (Cosmic Rumble x Osti’s Bride May ’11) which won the Group 3 Mandurah Cup, the Group 3 Perth Cup Consolation and was a finalist in the Group 1 Sapphire Crown.
Townsend remembers the black bitch fondly, but says her son could turn out to be an even better racer.
“She was a sweet little thing and very special to me – she was one of the first group winners I handled for Linda and Chris, she was a really honest bitch.
“I love the dogs which just turn up week to week and give it their all and this bloke is very much the same as her – they have got similar temperaments and he has got her brilliant early pace too.
“He jumps nearly every start and puts himself in the race. When he finds the bunny he carves out some amazing sections.”
Townsend says there is no reason why West On Augie, which has run 29.40 at Cannington and 27.08 at Mandurah, can’t take it all the way if he continues to show his brilliant pace and determination.
“He has got everything you want in an elite dog,” he explained.
“We have had plenty of dogs which are probably just as fast as him but they have their quirks.
“Quick Jagger for example – he is a brilliant dog but he is slow out of the boxes and he does things wrong in his races – whereas this bloke handles himself well, he is the ultimate professional.”
His first major test at the elite level will be next month when he lines up in the heats of the Group 1 Perth Cup – but Townsend is confident he will handle himself well.
“Chris and Linda will be aiming him towards the Perth Cup and based on how he is going I think he is going to be spot on for the series.
“He is only going to learn and get better with more experience, so by the time the series comes around I definitely think he will be ready to take on the best in the land and he should be competitive.”