Elson delivers on sprint trip promise
ISAAC MURPHY’S Albion Park Roundup
In the week leading up to the March 25 meeting at Albion Park trainer Travis Elson spoke about his desire to get back to training Thursday night winners.
Well, the trainer got what he wanted … and more. All three of his runners on the card saluted, giving him his first Thursday night treble, with Hope’s King, Magic Miss and Mumma’s Machine doing the job.
The trainer was careful to declare any of his charges, with them all jumping from the 395 metres to the 520, but the trio all found the front out of the straight and never relinquished and Elson knew he was only scraping the surface.
“I’ve had some good nights at the track before, but this ranks right up there. I’ve come out and said it’s a goal of mine and to have all three perform before I expected them to was a bit surreal,” Elson said.
“Hope’s King was my best chance coming off a 22.27 395 metre run, but I still thought he was far from a good thing given the distance jump and the rain hasn’t let me work any of them. He’s gone out and won by seven lengths!
“Magic Miss has always looked like a bitch who’ll get the six hundred and I’ll build her up off that run. Mumma’s Machine had a few things go her way early, but was brave late. I can’t wait until they get a proper preparation in them.”
The good times kept rolling for Elson over the five hundred, with Mumma’s Machine going on to put another three wins on end and still has fifth grade races up her sleeve on Monday and Thursday night’s.
“She’s probably been the biggest surprise out of them all. I really wasn’t sure if she would get the distance but it’s amazing what confidence can do,” he said.
“She had to lead to win her first couple of races, but more recently she’s showing the versatility to come from off the pace.
“I’d love to see her break 30. That’s when you know they’ve really made it at the trip and she’s gone close in 30.11, down from 30.44. I don’t think it’ll be long.”
Hope’s King has not taken a backward step either. He went 29.94 winning on the 25th and has been right around that mark for two minors and another 500m win since.
“It’s so rewarding to see him back and racing at the level. I always thought he could. Injury kept him out for seven months. Sometimes you don’t get them back after that long,” said Elson.
“I thought he was really brave running behind Enthusiastic in a stacked field in the Easter Trophy and back down to regular fifth grade company he was too good.
“His explosiveness probably goes unmatched. The more racing I get into him the stronger his run home’s going to get because he flies the first two sections.”
While Hope’s King does his damage early, Magic Miss can get you late and she did just two weeks after her breakthrough win, running down tearaway leader Werina Express in 30.03.
“She’s always been the one out of the Dyna Double One/Hope’s Magic litter that I thought would get over further,” Elson said.
“With almost 60 starts under her belt and age still on her side I think she’s poised for a long run over the middle-distance.
“I got her up there last start and she put herself in a great position. Unfortunately she’s dropped out with a little niggle, but that won’t keep her sidelined long.”
The three Thursday night newcomers have joined Elson’s Best 8 winning bitch Limited Edition as week in week out prospects all within a month and are worth following with runs in the legs.
Sequana sends a message to Winter rivals
Selena Zammit’s Sequana has always been a prodigious talent. The bitch who’s famous for pushing Sennachie right to the line for his track record is back and better than ever coupling her ability with a race sense that’s seeing her flourish.
She returned to Albion Park on April 1 for a mouth-watering clash with Fred Swain’s All Hands Off, who’d been lighting up the clock.
Mick Zammit said while Sequana was wound up he wasn’t expecting to beat her main rival first up, but when she got a sniff down the back it was all over.
“It was some sort of effort. She only came away with them and was forced four-wide on the turn, but she only knows one way and that was to keep coming and found herself in a great spot outside the leader down the back,” he said.
“We had All Hands Off boxed in on the rail and once we got in front of her, I’ve never seen her run down. It was a really pleasing result having her first 500 in five months.
“The toughest part about training her has been keeping her sound. We’ll stick to the sprint for now, but once she gets some more starts in her I think she’ll be back up to the 600 and would love to try the 700 some day.”
The bitch ran 29.48 chasing Sennachie that famous Golden Ticket night and after her first up win the next goal was to get her running time. Yet again she delivered with a monster run from box eight the following week.
“We were definitely a bit nervous when the draw came out. You see plenty of dogs with quicker first sectionals than her get knocked out of a Best 8 race from the pink, but she found a way.
“It was very similar to last week, hold your breath stuff at the turn, but when she found the rail towards the six hundred boxes it was hers to lose.
“She ran past a couple of really quick dogs in Mitchell Street and Limited Edition. It’s tough to make them look slow in the run to the line. I was rapt when I saw 29.68 come up.”
Sequana would shoot for the hattrick in the Best 5 on Thursday the 15th. While she didn’t go quite as quick as last week, Selena Zammit was enamoured with the way she did it, slow out finding a rails run at the first turn.
“It’s been fantastic to see her develop her race sense over the years. Everyone always talks about the times but it’s races like tonight where she’s just so field-smart that set her apart,” she said.
“It was the thing that was holding her back early on and now we’ve been able to morph that into a strength.
“She’s done everything we could have asked since returning, the original plan was to probably try to get her back to the 600 sooner rather than later, but while she’s sprinting well we can pick and choose.”
Hunt Salutes in Second Straight Short Course Feature
It was blink and you miss it action at Albion Park on the April 17 card at Albion Park with the Best Free for All 395 metre dogs getting their chance to shine on a Thursday night.
It was Sandra Hunt who prevailed with Beg Pardon beating kennel mate Hope Sure Can home, the trainer making a habit of winning short course features when they come on the schedule having won the Queensland Short Course final earlier this year.
Hunt rugged up Beg Pardon (4), Hope Sure Can (6) and Lynney Sure Can (8) and the trainer capitalized with a Beg Pardon, Hope Sure Can quinella. The former paying $41.
“The 395 is right on Hope Sure Can’s limit. I knew she was going to have to lead and get away by a few to hang on from some of the strong dogs, but I wasn’t expecting Beg Pardon to be so close,” Hunt said.
“I was hoping the little bitch could hold on and win just because of the record she’s built up (14 wins), but that was a huge effort from Beg Pardon to run her down. That opens up a few doors for him.
“Seeing him run on like that I think the time might be right to get him back to the 500. He’s still young and but his manners have improved no end.”
Hunt always expected Beg Pardon to be winning on Thursday nights, just not over the short course, with a return to the traditional sprint imminent.
“We thought he was an out-and-out 500 metre dog when we first started him, but he wasn’t quite getting it and when he did he turned his head on the line and we had to tip him out,” she said.
“He’s still a bit crazy, but he’s matured a lot as a race dog learning how to navigate a field over the short course, he’s got five wins over the trip now.
“Thursday nights should always be predominantly about the five hundred metre chasers. I don’t think that should change, but you’ve got some serious Free for All dogs that could put on a real show if they get the chance on Thursdays more often.”
Hunt spoke glowingly about Hope Sure Can, who was angling for a second consecutive Thursday night triumph after winning the Queensland Short Course Final on Gold Bullion night earlier this year.
“She knows when she’s on the big stage this bitch. She won the Lightning that night from box six and she did absolutely everything right from the same draw tonight,” Hunt said.
“She’s been running 22.7, so she’s run just about the quickest she can go in 22.52. Beg Pardon was just a bit too close.
“To win 14 from 20 starts is a pretty amazing effort, especially when you’re in top grade over the short courses. She jumps brilliantly from the 331, consistently running 18.7 or lower. She’s got plenty more wins in her.”
Ninetymile King Sits atop the 600 Throne
Ninetymile King’s step up to the 600 metres was highly anticipated and the freakish talent has lived up to the billing for trainer Bianca Whitford, winning his fourth race from four attempts over the trip coming from second last to score on Thursday April 8 at Albion Park.
The progeny of My Bro Fabio and My Superstar was a red hot favourite to keep his unbeaten middle-distance streak alive, but was in all sorts of trouble when hampered early before a trademark sweeping run broke the hearts of his rivals.
“He actually jumped really well by his standards from the seven. He just tangled with the blue dog, which almost brought him down on his rear end. To regather himself and pick them up the way he did, I thought it was one of his more satisfying wins,” Whitford said.
“It’s interesting that his 600 metre pattern is to go around them. He used to rail as a sprinter and got cut off a few times, so now just prefers to get out in the middle of the track.
“It was encouraging to see him jump. If he can get a bit closer to them, I think we’ll see him running 34.6 comfortably. He went 34.81 on not a particularly quick surface the other week.”
There’s been plenty of voices telling Whitford what to do with the dog, but she knew him best and has got the timing spot on.
“We were really confident when we got him to the middle-distance. He’d come out and win his races like he has. We know how valuable a commodity he is and it was just about making sure his body was 100 percent right and he’s feeling great in himself,” she said.
“It’s nice to see him putting the wins on the board. That’s a dozen now at just about a 50 percent strike rate. He’s got the confidence to win from tough positions as he did last night.”
“The 700 is definitely on the horizon, but we’d be mad not to tackle some of the feature 600 races first the way he’s going.”
Buhner Back With a Bang
It was a fairytale night for trainer Conrad Buhner on Thursday April 15 at Qld headquarters, his only dog in work, Shian Cody, giving him his first Thursday night winner.
It’d been five years since Buhner had trained at all. A young family and growing business taking precedence, but you couldn’t wipe the smile off his face finally cracking the milestone after over two decades in the sport.
It was no ordinary win either, Shian Cody screaming home late to get the best of a bunch finish. A dream realised for Buhner.
“I bought him for the sole purpose I thought he’d be perfect for Thursday Night Master’s company. It’s a night you always would like to win on and after having him for a couple of months I thought he was just about ready,” Buhner said.
“He’s strong home, but when he dropped out to last, I thought it was going to be too big an ask, but he just kept coming and I had to contain myself when he got there on the line.
“The time was perfect as well. 30.42 is about his mark I reckon. He won’t handle going up in grade, so I’ll get the thrill of bringing back my one dog in work to another winnable master’s race next week.”
Shian Cody went off at $41 fixed price, with plenty of fellow trainers asking if Buhner got a piece, but it was all about the win for the family man.
“Everyone was asking me last night what’d you have on your dog? I didn’t even know he’d gone up as big a price he did, but I don’t bet so I was more than happy to just soak in the occasion,” he laughed.
“It was a massive run coming from last and the stewards asked me what you think was the contributing factor.
“I just said have a look at his form. He got bumped out of it early in his previous run, but before that he was second behind Spring Chatter who’s been cleaning up in master’s grade and the run prior to that was a quarter of a length off Spring Chatter. He was due.”
Buhner was happy to put his training on hold for the bigger picture, but now has the whole family behind him and he’s not looking back.
“It’s been about five years since I last trained and the goal then was to always get a Thursday night city winner, I came close a few times but never nailed one, now I’ve only been back for a few months and Shian Cody’s done the job,” he said.
“You have to be fully invested in the lifestyle and when my wife and I had a young family the training, rearing, whelping just became too much.
“The kids are all a bit older now and I’ve found myself in a place where I could put the necessary time in and last night was some sort of reward for the work we’ve put in.”
Like so many other hobby trainers Buhner has found that perfect work-life balance after a crazy year on the work front in 2020.
“Coming back into dogs has been so refreshing for me. My wife and I run a poultry business and with Covid last year everything was just so hectic. I needed a release valve and luckily I had the dogs to fall back on,” he said.
“The long-term plan was to always get back into breeding with the new track coming close to home in a few years’ time, but I wanted a dog to race now and I happened upon Shian Cody.
“I saw him for sale on Greyhound Data. I got straight in touch with Ian and Kerry Hoggan, who I’ve had a great relationship going back to the early 2000s. They trained the first few dogs I owned. They’re great people and it was an easy negotiation in the end.”
Buhner went to a reliable source when he was looking for a good race dog, continuing a successful relationship with Ian and Kerry Hoggan.
“I watched a lot of his old replays where he showed flashes of ability and spoke to Ian (Hoggan) about him and he said he’s fit and healthy. I think he’s just become a bit stale here in the same kennel,” he said.
“Sure enough he came over to my place in the last couple of months and I’m just starting to get to know the dog, his racing weight, what he needs during the week. He’s feeling at home.
“That’s the great thing about one-on-one training. You pick up the little things that the bigger kennels could miss. I’m flexible with work so I get to see him everyday and have a pretty good idea how he’s travelling.”