White hungry for Curry honours
By Mike Hill
LEADING Victorian trainer Steve White is hoping 2021 is the year that he can say ‘the Vince Curry is ours’.
White believes his wonderful sprinter Paua To Burn was a certainty beaten when she fell on the first corner in the 2004 final over 520m at Ipswich, won by the Tony Zammit-trained Runaway Sally.
Then he and breeding partner David Jones had to share the title in 2016 when Paua To Avoid, a grand-daughter of Paua To Burn, dead-heated with Split Image.
It was the first dead-heat in the history of the Vince Curry Memorial – the world’s richest race for maiden greyhounds first run over 512m in 1984.
And in another first, the joint winners were both prepared by top Queensland trainer Tony Brett.
White, one of Australia’s foremost trainers, said last month: “We’re thinking of sending up one or two youngsters for the 2021 Vince Curry.”
They are also descendants of the mighty Paua To Burn.
The $60,000 Group 3 feature hits the Ipswich track with heats on January 23, semi-finals on January 30 and the $40,000-to-the-winner final on February 6.
White, who was living in NSW at the time, said Paua To Burn was ‘flying’ in the 2004 series.
“We came up to Queensland, I think the temperature was something like 45 degrees when we arrived,” he said.
“Paua To Burn went into the series unraced.
“She finished second in her qualifying heat and then went bang, bang, winning both her quarter-final and semi-final but then she fell on the first corner in the final when running second or third.
“She was flying at the time. I was expecting her to win. After the fall I brought her home and gave her a month off.
“At her next start she smashed the 520m track record at Nowra.”
And so began her stunning career that eventually saw her inducted into the Australian Greyhound Racing Hall Of Fame.
Paua To Burn – a 17-time Group finalist – won four Group 1s, including the Golden Easter Egg at Wentworth Park, the Laurels and the Sapphire Crown (twice) at Sandown Park, three G3s and she set five track records.
White admitted that he knocked back several substantial bids for the daughter of Awesome Assassin and Alice Dooley, including a $100,000 offer early in her career.
“I was always going to keep her,” he said. “She was born to be a champion. She showed us that very early.
“She just blossomed … the more she raced the better she got. We all strive for that brilliant dog and I also believed she would eventually be a successful brood bitch, which she was.”
Paua To Burn finishing her career with 28 wins and 14 minor placings from 59 starts, amassing $434,705 in prizemoney.
In an earlier interview White said Paua To Burn, or Tina as she was known around the kennels, had given him some wonderful memories.
“She did something that a lot of people can only dream of,” he was quoted as saying.
“She broke five track records, won four Group 1s, three of them by about nine or 10 lengths … she made good Group dogs look like they were grade five dogs.
“The one race which she only just won was the Golden Easter Egg and I think that was her best performance by far because Eifella went past her and she had to show all her guts and determination to come back and win it.
“She was just a machine.”
Even from day one, White said there was something special about the bitch he bred, reared, owned and trained.
“When she was about eight of nine months old we put her in the runs next to some dogs which were 17 months old and she was going past them like they were standing still.”
White said he and Jones were partners in the ‘Paua’ litters and the youngsters targeted for this month’s Vince Curry were from the Aston Dee Bee-Paua To Admit litter.
“They are the next litter after the My Bro Fabio litter that includes Paua Of Oscar whose is currently in Tasmania for the Hobart Thousand,” he said.
“One bitch from the Aston Dee Bee litter (Paua Of Janie) has already started racing.
“She was the slowest of the litter but already she has two wins from two starts.
“The youngsters we’re thinking of sending up to Queensland are running fast times.
“They are going good.”