Evelyn recalls an emotional farewell
By David Brasch
EVELYN Harris couldn’t believe the people who stayed late at Gosford early in September just to pat her dog.
Mind you, ‘her dog’ is none other than racing marvel Cosmic Bonus.
Gosford, late one September night, the last race at that, was hardly an inviting place to hang around.
But Cosmic Bonus had just, sadly, ended his 149-start race career when damaging a back muscle finishing his illustrious career.
“I couldn’t believe the people who stayed around just to be able to pat my dog,” she said of the night.
But, great dogs like Cosmic Bonus do that with lovers of the noble greyhound, and especially stars like him.
Evelyn, and husband Leonard, have loved him a lot longer.
In 149 starts, he won 72, was second 26 times and third 17 for stakes of $408,000.
Those 72 wins were just two short of the Australian record for race wins. Evelyn was well aware of the target and at Gosford, Cosmic Bonus began like a rocket and raced straight to the front. He had got there only for a few strides before the injury hit.
“I was yelling out to him from the catching pen to stop,” said Evelyn. “He usually hears me and does what I say, but this time he kept going until he got to the 600 metre boxes and that’s when he couldn’t go any further.”
For Evelyn and Leonard, Double Dot, as the white and brindle dog is known around the Grafton kennels, he has been one non-stop highlight in greyhound racing.
The son of Cosmic Rumble-Dark And Stormy was whelped in December 2014 and had been on the racetrack virtually non-stop since October 2016.
Evelyn says the dog’s career highlight was from day one.
“It was right back at the start when he won the Pop Northfield Maiden at Casino,” said Evelyn. “He won by eight and a half lengths.”
The Pop Northfield is a time-honoured event on the Northern Rivers, a race in honour of one of greyhound racing’s pioneers and one that has been won by many great greyhounds.
Few of them have been as good as Cosmic Bonus.
But Evelyn and Leonard have many, many more highlights from those 149 race starts.
She rates the victory in the Masters Meteor on the same night as the inaugural Million Dollar Chase as one she will never forget. Wentworth Park was absolutely abuzz.
“The night he ran 29.64 to win the Masters Meteor on Million Dollar Chase night was amazing,” she said. “I was in a daze. People were shouting out to me as I walked back to the catching pen and I just wanted them to leave me alone.
“Leonard met me in the catching pen and told me to pull myself together because I had to get back to accept the trophy.”
Record breaking wins at Casino in 2019 were just as memorable.
“He ran the track record at Casino in March 2019 and then in July he broke it again,” said Evelyn. “That was something to remember as well.”
Plans for a stud career are well underway.
Cosmic Bonus has undergone DNA and his semen tested.
“We have been asked so often to use him at stud,” said Evelyn. “Sam Cauchi once told me the first 10 bitches a stud dog gets is all important, so Leonard and I want his first 10 bitches to be good.
“We already have a bitch lined up for him ourselves.”
Cosmic Bonus is so popular, Evelyn was asked to take the dog to Casino for the final meeting at which recently retired chief steward Gail Thorsby officiated.
“The stewards asked me to bring him along because he was Gail’s favourite dog,” said Evelyn. “I was happy to do that and we got a lot of photos taken of him with Gail.”
Evelyn says Cosmic Bonus has already been promised more than his fair share of chocolate and ice cream now that he is retired.
“He’s a one in a million, a dog every trainer dreams about,” she said.
“People asked me all the time does he receive any special treatment from us because he has been so successful.
“I tell them every time that we have 28 dogs in the kennels and every one of them gets treated the same.”
Some stats on Cosmic Bonus make amazing reading.
He won the Master Meteor, the G2 Gosford Gold Cup and the Grafton Sprinters Cup.
He was second in the G1 Brisbane Cup, G3 Ipswich Cup, third in the G3 Gold Coast Cup, G2 Gosford Cup, and a finalist in the G1 Winter Cup, G1 Temlee, G2 Qld Derby, and three times a finalist in the G3 Casino Cup, as well as another Masters Meteor.
Evelyn had plans for him to contest yet another Masters Meteor in October if he had stayed sound.
Cosmic Bonus won at Casino, Gosford, Wentworth Park, Albion Park, Lismore, Grafton, Ipswich and Capalaba.
His best winning times are remarkable.
They are: Casino 22.88, 27.15, Gosford 23.09, 29.16, Wentworth Park 29.63, Albion Park 29.70. Lismore 23.61, 30.01, Grafton 23.02, 27.48, Ipswich 30.28, Capalaba 19.69.
Caption: Evelyn and Leonard Harris with their champion Cosmic Bonus after he broke the track record at Casino (Photo: Lisa Vanderstok)