WINKLEE Dutchy (Kc And All x Winklee Weeper Oct '15) will be aimed at the heats of the George and Eileen Johnston Puppy Classic (452m) at Devonport on Tuesday after scoring a big win in the Launceston Breeder's Classic (515m) on Monday night.
Swinging for home, Winklee Dutchy began closing quickly and was able to rail through and take the lead as the new front runner Fernando Magic (Fernando Bale x She's All Class Dec' 15) eased approaching the line.
At the finish Winklee Dutchy crossed the line three quarters of a length in front of Fernando Magic, stopping the clock in a fair 30.50.
It was his third win within a seven-day period, having won his heat in 30.03 the week prior before heading to Hobart on the Thursday in between where he clocked a quick 26.12 over the 461m journey.
Howard admitted it wasn't the ideal preparation heading into the $8,950 event, but said it all worked out for the best.
“Before the Breeders he got kennel cough so he missed about 10 days of work so we were debating whether or not to put him in the heats,” Howard told Australian Racing Greyhound.
“I decided to have a go with him and then I backed him up on the Thursday at Hobart – which I wouldn't normally do – just to try and get some miles into his legs.
“I think it made the difference because he flew home late although when we drew box seven we didn't think he had a chance.
“He probably got a bit lucky when David Crosswell's dog [Fernando Magic] stopped, but he was still good enough to win it which was great.”
The victory lifted the spirits of the Exeter-based conditioner who has had his share of misfortune in recent weeks.
“You take the good luck when it comes your way because there is plenty of bad luck in greyhound racing,” he said.
“I actually experienced it a few weeks ago with the sister to Dutchy, Winklee Jane, she was much better than him and I had just knocked back $20,000 for her.
“Unfortunately she broke her toe at Devonport and although it wasn't career ending it needed surgery so I took her to the vet.
“That night I got a call to say she didn't wake up from the surgery – it was a real blow when the vet called me to say she had died and it took a long time for it to sink in.
“It was heartbreaking because I think she would have picked up and carried any dog we've ever had – I had a big opinion of her.”
Howard is now hoping Winklee Dutchy can continue his hot run of form at Devonport this Tuesday where he will be shooting for his sixth straight win in his Puppy Classic heat.
He will face a tough task up against arguably the best young greyhound in the state, Wynburn Cutie (Destini Fireball x Miss Hetti Dec '15) when he jumps from box eight, however Howard is remaining optimistic despite the wide draw.
“He has drawn box eight again – he has had 17 starts and we just can't get an inside box,” Howard said.
“If you watch his replays he only really takes off and accelerates once he gets to the fence – so that makes it tough when he has seven dogs on his inside.
“But if he makes the final I think he'll have a big chance if he can draw near the rail because he will grow a leg from the inside.
“It is a hard race on Tuesday but anything can happen and hopefully he can make it seven in a row in this series.”
Another feature win would be a big thrill for Howard, who has trained plenty of quality chasers throughout his time in greyhound racing – with most carrying the ‘Winklee' moniker.
Having been in the sport on and off for four decades, Howard says he will soon scale back, but wants to remain involved with a small team of chasers.
“I first got into the greyhounds in the 1970s. My wife Anne comes from a trotting background and for a while we were training both – one day she asked me what way we were going to go – so we decided to just have trotters and we were involved with them for around 20 years.
“Eventually we got out of the trots and Anne bought another dog and it has just gone on from there – now we have around 15 although I'd like to start cutting back as I'm getting on a bit and they are a lot of work.
“We always breed and race our own dogs and I'd still like to breed another couple of litters, but I think I'd have to get someone else to train them and just keep a couple for myself.”
Three heats of the George and Eileen Johnston Puppy Classic will be run on Tuesday, with the first qualifier being race two which is set to jump at 12.50pm.