Val’s defying age to restart his training career
Group 2 Cranbourne Cup (520m)
Heats October 22. Final October 30.
$50,000 to the winner.
By David Brasch
WHEN asked how old he is, Victorian dog man Val Awramenko answers “too old”.
He admits to being in his 80s but he feels he is not too old to consider a comeback to training greyhounds.
Val raced and trained that former star galloper Mystic Apple (Hallucinate-Spiral Siyan by Spiral Nikita) who raced 73 times for 27 wins, 17 placings and earned $258,000 way back in 2010-12.
Among his wins were the G2 Cranbourne Cup which comes up again this year during October and as always will be one of the highlights of provincial greyhound racing in Victoria. Great dogs win the Cranbourne Cup.
Mystic Apple’s win in the 2012 version was at the expense of such racetrack stars as Strong Intention, Lektra Jay, Proven Mayhem etc.
Unfortunately, Mystic Apple died a year ago but his memory still lives on for Val and his family, and his racetrack deeds are behind Val’s hankering to pick up a collar and lead and start training again even “in his 80s”.
“He wasn’t my first Mystic Apple,” Val said. “I had a dog way back in the mid 1980s that was named Mystic Apple and he was pretty good too, won a couple in Melbourne over the 500m and 700m.
“Even took him to Queensland and won up there with him.”
The 1980s Mystic Apple was Ding’s Wonder-Mystic Mulga.
Val bought the 2008-born Mystic Apple for $1300 from Jim Fowler.
“I always like brindles and I couldn’t understand why he was one of the last left in the litter,” Val said. “He was three months old and I thought there must be something wrong with him for no one to buy him.”
Val took him home, fenced off some acres on the home property and reared him.
“I got him going early, mostly starting box work,” he said. “I spend a lot of time getting my dogs used to the boxes, getting them to settle there.
‘It really worked with him because he would get straight to the front and have his nose on the lids.”
It certainly did work. As well as winning the Cranbourne Cup, he also won the then Group 2 Sale Cup (now G1) beating Zipping Lad and Granduer. These victories were not his only claim to fame.
He ran second to Radley Bale in the G1 Temlee, second to El Grand Senor in the Shepparton Cup, then was second in the G2 McKenna Memorial. But he also made the finals of the Horsham, Geelong and Warragul Cups and the Bill Collins Memorial.
Val admits the 2008 version of Mystic Apple was a “cheap buy” at $1300.
“Actually, my daughter Julie talked me back into greyhound racing after I’d had a good long break,” Val said. “She and I raced our dogs under Apple Syndicate.”
Val’s training methods were thoughtfully planned out.
“I would always get my dogs fit by long work,” he said. “But, when they were ready to race I would switch them to short runs which would sharpen them up to get to the front early.
“I worked my race dogs in short runs alongside a couple of whippets.
“Training greyhounds is all about getting the first split.”
Mystic Apple was always quick to the first mark in almost all his races, Val said.
It won him a Cranbourne Cup.