Extra Malt arrives for Team Hall
ISAAC MURPHY’S Albion Park Roundup
A week’s a long time in greyhound racing and that’s all it took for Extra Malt to rocket into the conversation as one of the most promising sprinters in Queensland.
Three consecutive victories in 29.6, 29.61 and 29.73 from March 1 to March 8, could go down as defining moments in the training careers of Graham and Leanne Hall.
The progeny of Paw Licking and It Gets Better had shown plenty of promise with four wins from seven starts, but not even the kennel saw her coming to hand so quickly. She was an astonishing four-tenths quicker than the card’s next fastest winner – her brother Double Malt (30.00).
Graham Hall said Extra Malt had always looked like a gun pup and she now has the time to prove it.
“We’ve always thought that Extra Malt was capable of a time like that (29.6). Her trials have been exceptional, and it was that win that got the ball rolling for her,” He said.
“When we first started trialling her, she went 30.03 over the five hundred and ran home in 12.65, so we suspected there was something there. It’s just taken her a little while to find it.”
“Even after eight starts she’s just doing everything a lot better. She’s out as quick as ever, consolidates down the back and is improving her run home each time out.”
Following the breakthrough win Hall said the next step for the bitch would be learning to navigate a field. Something she’s had to do in both subsequent wins.
“She had five wins to her name and time on the board. The next thing we’ve needed to work on was a bit of field sense. All of her wins have come when she’s jumped straight to the front which won’t always be the case when she gets up in grade,” he said.
“I thought she took a step in the right direction when she was headed at the first turn in the Women Trainers’ final and railed through to go almost as quick (29.61) as Monday’s run.
“It was her third in a row. We were most pleased with that. She didn’t get it all her own way from box five and to pull out three wide down the back and still finish in 29.73 was her best run to date.”
Seven wins from ten starts speaks to Extra Malt’s talent and she’s done it through adversity as well.
“She won her maiden by eight lengths on debut at Albion Park and then drew the red for her Novice the next week. It was fair to say we were feeling pretty good about things, but were humbled pretty quickly,” Hall said.
“She’d taken a toe nail off in the boxes. It wasn’t a shocking injury, but can have a real effect on her box manners and she just struggled her next couple of starts.
“She’d always been a natural jumper up to that point and fortunately once it healed up she’s got back to pinging the lids.”
The bitch looks to be peaking at the right time with an impending trip to Ipswich on the cards where she will go around for some serious prizemoney.
“She’s Ipswich Auction eligible. You’re never sure how she’ll stack up until the nominations are released but we expect her go well,” Hall said.
“She’s only had the one start at Ipswich and won by about thirteen lengths. The series will obviously be tougher, but she still showed she can ping the lids there.
“Thinking long term, races like the Albion Park Young Guns and the Flying Amy look right in her wheelhouse if she stays healthy.”
Bourke Breaths New Life into Dustification
It was a watershed night for Churchable trainer Matt Bourke on the Thursday, March 4s Albion Park card, the young trainer enjoying his first Thursday night winner with former Victorian Dustification continuing to love her time in the Sunshine State, making it four victories on the bounce.
It’s been a remarkable purple patch for the Kayda Shae/Four Secrets bitch who’d only managed three wins from fifty-one starts in Victoria, but Bourke looked past the winning strike rate focused on her strengths – often rattling home for a placing at The Meadows – and has ended up with the savviest purchase of his career.
Bourke said it took the bitch a few months to acclimatise late last year but she continually looked more comfortable in her surroundings and the winning streak has ensued over the short course and now traditional sprint trip at Albion Park.
“Before I bought her I watched plenty of her replays running good placings in Melbourne and knew if I could get her up here and in the right grade she’d win races,” Bourke said
“I picked her up predominantly to be a brood bitch for future litters, but that’s four wins in a row now and she’s given me my first Thursday night winner, so she’s a bitch I’m never going to forget.
“She’s only three and a half and seems to be getting better and better. We might have to put breeding plans on the backburner if she continues in this vein.”
Bourke’s entire kennel have been kicking goals throughout 2021, the trainer finally able to pursue his passion full time after being involved in the industry on a casual basis for years.
To go all-in Bourke first had to have appropriate facilities to fulfill his plans and has been on the rise since settling in the heartland of Queensland greyhound racing.
“Everything has taken a turn for the better since settling into our new place at Churchable in March last year. It’s allowed me to go out and buy more dogs, which I own myself and also pick up a few which I train for other owners,” Bourke said.
“I had a lot of pups coming up from the time we bought the property last year who’ve hit the track over the past few months and are doing some really nice things. It’s nice when you’re winning. I’ve been on the other end of it.
“I’m fast learning the business side of training. I recently sold Tipsy Mermaid, who’d won two from two for me at Albion Park, but that’s money I can invest back in the kennel.”
Richardson reaping the rewards of a gun litter
Northern Rivers trainer David Richardson hasn’t ventured to Albion Park for over a year, but he’s been hard at work breaking in his Barcia Bale/Sandave Sapphire litter, including Barsandi and Sapphire Sky, both bitches winning impressively at Queensland headquarters in the last month.
Sandave Sky was the first to come to the track and in one run broke her maiden status in a win worth noting. The time wasn’t spectacular (30.28), but she stormed home from well back in the field to win going away from them.
She’s the less experienced of the sisters with just the six starts to her name, but looks a ready-made five hundred metre Albion Park bitch who has plenty of fifth grades to tick off over the coming months.
Richardson is most excited about Barsandi, who had five wins to her name over the five hundred metres at Lismore before she ventured North – a first up placing full of merit, followed by a dominant win a week later.
The bitch chased home Steve Kavanagh’s Louis Rumble, who’s been lighting up the track at Albion and found things much easier when she tracked down Born to Run, a half-brother to Group One champion Oh Mickey, in 29.79 in early March.
“She’d been going that good at home I thought she was a good chance of coming up here and knocking off Louis Rumble first look,” Richardson said.
“He had the experience edge on us that day. We gave him a start and he was a bit too good, but the run topped her up nicely and when she was able to stalk the leader down the back, I knew she’d run over the top of him.
“The dam, Sandave Sapphire, was a group winning bitch over the seven hundred metres and both of them have inherited her strong run home. I’m hoping to have them ready for races like the Flying Amy in a few months’ time.”
Burnt Ends Officially Enters Staying Ranks
After barely missing out on a Casino Cup birth last November trainer Jeff Ahern was at a crossroads with talented sprinter Burnt Ends. He was finding trouble over the trip and getting going late so the trainer thought ‘why not throw him in over the 620 metres at the track’. The dog knocked over the Casino track record at the first time of asking.
Keen to cash in on his newfound strength Ahern brought him to the six hundred metres at Albion Park, he won three straight, staring down another track record with a 34.52 best and upon completion of the Group Two Golden Sands the kennel said ‘why not try a seven hundred metre campaign’.
The dog ran a bold race at his second seven hundred metre start to qualify for the Listed Gold Cup Final, but still looked a long way off some of the favourites, until be produced a stunning finals run finishing third less than a length behind staying stars Sir Truculent and Sunset Bourbski.
Even though he’d mixed it with some of the best stayers in the country he still hadn’t won a race over the trip. He fell to the flying Maggie Moo Moo the next time of asking, but when he found himself in a Fifth Grade over the trip it was his time to shine, romping home by nine lengths in 41.96.
Kennel representative Donna Pezet said she never thought she’d see the day the dog was winning as a stayer and said both her and Ahern were enjoying the ride.
“Early on we probably had him pegged as a sprinter. He was winning races over the short course with good box speed and we gradually got him up to the five hundred,” Pezet said.
“We were so proud of him when he went with Sir Truculent and Sunset Bourbski in the Gold Cup. We thought he could lead, but the way he fought back late was terrific.
“The four-dog field obviously helped him get his first win, but he couldn’t be more deserving and he’s done well to break forty-two seconds (41.96).”
Burnt Ends is still eligible for another fifth grade seven hundred metres on a Thursday night and when he gets there, you’d be hard pressed to find a runner with better claims.
Zammit’s Enamoured with new Middle-Distance Queen
With Burnt Ends graduating to the staying ranks his litter sister Kooringa Lucy (Fernando Bale/Mitcharlie Mia) has wasted no time taking up the mantle as the quickest greyhound over the six hundred metres.
Formally trained by Mitchell Northfield, the owner knew her calling was over the six hundred metres and sought the training expertise of Selena and Mick Zammit to get the best out of her.
They’ve done just that. The bitch is unbeaten in three tries over the trip, with a slick personal best of 34.66. Mick Zammit said he couldn’t wait to see what she has in store.
“We knew she was going to run six hundred before we got her. Some of her runs at Lismore and Casino were massive. We haven’t had to do a whole lot with her it’s been a very natural transition,” Mick Zammit said.
“We’ve picked through all her grades now and she’s just come on season, the timing should still be alright to get her back and race fit and we might even start to think about the seven hundred metres.”
“We Saw what her brother (Burnt Ends) can do over the seven hundred. We might step her up in the late in the Winter Carnival after she gets her legs back under her over the six hundred.”