Bringelly trainer Mark Wilcox is enjoying a dream run at present with his highly talented kennel going great guns on the racetrack. Of the eight greyhounds he has in work, seven are littermates which Wilcox bred himself out of his handy race bitch Winning Shiraz.
“They are going really good at the moment”, Wilcox said about his team of chasers, “We raced the dam and bred them ourselves”.
For her first litter, Wilcox went to prominent sire Knocka Norris. The result has been a litter of 100% winners, who all look to have very exciting futures
“I just liked the dog (Knocka Norris). Blood wise it also agreed with her so that was it. We needed some luck, but we got some”.
The litter includes Buster Shiraz, Cool Maddie Ross, Coonawarra Gold, Highly Respected, Knocka's Return, Natural Player and Winning Knocka.
The star of the litter at this point in time is the well-performed Knocka's Return. The striking red brindle and white performer has put together 14 wins from just 29 starts including some slick times at Bulli (26.16s), Maitland (25.05s), and Wentworth Park (29.82s). Knocka's Return has been racing some stiff opposition from the get-go, facing greyhounds such as Black Magic Opal, Billy Buzzard and Jagger Swagger. At just his 12th start he finished second in the Maitland Gold Cup Consolation behind grand campaigner Dinkum, in a field good enough to have been the main event.
“He is going along very well. He is very fast dog but his box manners let him down a little bit. He is actually starting to get a little bit better at that and we should be taking him down to Melbourne shortly to give him a go down there”.
“He handles the two turns perfectly, except his box manners. He gets back in his races so he is still learning a bit that way but we are going to take him down to Sandown and see how he handles that and we might have a crack at the Geelong Cup”.
Coming along nicely are last start winners Highly Respected and Coonawarra Gold who both saluted at Bulli last night.
Highly Respected has now won two in a row at the Slacky Flat track after clocking a quick 22.48s over the 400m the week prior. Returning last night, the youngster proved too strong for the Jodie Lord-trained Cawbourne Rocka, scoring by two and one quarter lengths in 22.43s. The 31 kilogram speedster had been racing well over the 472m at Bulli and 450m at Maitland before a short freshen-up and will now be built up to the longer distance again before heading to Sydney for a crack at a city win.
Coonawarra Gold also excelled last night, with an all the way display from box one. The red fawn bitch took her record to 14 starts for five wins and two seconds when clocking a sizzling 26.36s from the cherry.
Scratched from Bulli last night was the exciting Natural Player. The blue brindle speedster could be anything with nine wins and a second to his name from just 10 starts.
The only litter member not likely to get the ‘500' at this stage is Winning Knocka. Despite being a bit of an enigma, he has still recorded five wins and five minors from 16 starts
“He is a very funny dog”, Wilcox said “He has had a lot of injuries but he looks to be a 400 metre dog so we will just poke around with him over the 400s”.
Buster Shiraz is the complete opposite of Winning Knocka and has faced the starter on just eleven occasions. From that he has already put together five wins and six minor placings. The red brindle chaser raced tenaciously behind boom pup Zac Marlow two starts back at Maitland, taking ground off the son of Lochinvar Marlow when defeated by one and one quarter lengths in 25.35s.
“He is a very good dog”, Wilcox said, “Once again, a bit like Knocka's Return, he is very slow out of the boxes. But, time wise he is just as fast as Knocka's Return”.
Last, but certainly not least, is Cool Maddie Ross who is the most inexperienced from the litter but looks just as talented. From five starts she has notched up two wins and two minors. However, due to injury, she has not been seen on the track since June. Wilcox currently has her on the comeback and is hoping she can go on to have as much success as her brothers and sister.
“She has been injury prone; she has had a few broken toes. She actually broke in the best but she had a mishap at Wentworth Park about two months ago and she is just coming back from that now”.
Wilcox rates Knocka's Return as the best in the litter, which in itself, is the best litter he has bred after a 35 year involvement in the sport.
“Their mother, Winning Shiraz, was from a very good litter but these ones seem to be extra good”.
“They are all different in their own ways but the pick of them would be Knocka's Return- he is the best. Natural Player is not far off it and I think if we get him to run 500 he will be just as good. They should all get the 500 except for Winning Knocka- he is a bit of a ratbag”.
Wilcox recalls the best greyhound that he has trained, Fine Thought, but says some of these youngsters may be just as good, even though it is early days.
“Fine Thought won 28 races and was a track record holder. He was a very good dog. A couple of them have it- it's younger days but they are coming along nicely”.
There will be busy times ahead for Wilcox with Winning Shiraz recently mated to exciting young sire Magic Sprite. After the success of the first litter the pups are sure to generate plenty of interest, with Wilcox also revealing that some will be up for sale.