Hold the phone – Yozo Bale isn’t ready to retire just yet. That is because the legendary Victorian sprinter is still a force to be reckoned with ahead of tonight’s $33,785 Graeme Hull Memorial Cup Final (525m) at Wagga Wagga.
The indomitable four-year-old won his heat in 30.05 seconds and goes in as the $3.30 favourite with online bookmakers, despite starting from box seven.
But like the many obstacles he’s overcome over the course of his career, it is another setback trainer Correy Grenfell is expecting him to overcome.
“He’s a big chance. He hasn’t drawn perfectly, but we all know Yozo – he can overcome that,” he told Australianracinggreyhound.com.
“Box draws don’t normally hurt him too much.”
2022 Graeme Hull Memorial Cup Heat 3 (Wagga, 525m) – Yozo Bale (30.05)
Injuries have never dampened his spirits too much, either.
Grenfell floated the possibility of retiring his champion chaser, with over $373,000 in prizemoney to his name, after that triumph.
But the evergreen four-year-old continues to impress him.
“I don’t like talking retirement too much. A week in greyhound racing is a long time,” Grenfell said.
“Anything can go wrong. At this stage I won’t look at retiring him just yet. He’s going better than he was when he was two.
“It’s a privilege to have a dog who can maintain his ability over 100 starts with what he’s achieved.
“Two years ago, retirement looked like it was not far off when he was injury-plagued. With him we just play it week by week.
“You can’t map out races for him. If he keeps holding up, we’ll keep putting him in.”
2022 Geelong Gold Cup (520m) – Yozo Bale (29.69)
Grenfell said Yozo Bale also teaches him new things often, and this makes him a better trainer.
Because of his injury-prone past he throws in the odd challenge, too.
“To be old and brittle with the injuries he’s had throughout his career, he’s just maintained his ability,” Grenfell said.
“To still be doing what he’s doing 98 starts in has been unbelievable. To win the Geelong Cup after 90 starts, that was massive too.
“It was a massive thrill to us (as well as wife, Samantha) as trainers. So to go on and win another Group final would be huge.
“It gives us confidence in our training abilities going forward. He’s been a testing dog throughout his whole career due to his injuries.
“So it’s been a bit of a learning curve as well. He’s taught us plenty.
“And he keeps rewarding our hard work that we put into him.”
“Sam does all the little things that no one else sees. She’s helped this dog for a long time as well,” Grenfell said.
“It’s a team effort. It’s extra special with Yozo, so we’re all Team Yozo. But you wouldn’t be disappointed if any of the others won, either.”
Meanwhile, Natteo Bale and Orbital Bale are two promising young chasers coming through for the Grenfells.
“They’re the two that we’ve got massive wraps on,” Grenfell said.
“They’re not running the times that they’re capable of, but they’re winning.”
2022 Graeme Hull Memorial Final (Wagga, 525m) | $25,000-to-the-winner
Race 8 – Yozo Bale (7)
Form: 6621 | Trainer: Corey Grenfell | Career: 98: 32-29-6 | Rating: 91