By Isaac Murphy
Queensland’s National Straight Track Final was run and won at Capalaba on Sunday with the state’s team of three finalised for the inaugural championships.
The concept brings together the best straight track dogs from Queensland, South Australia and hosts Victoria at the Healesville track beginning August the 18th..
We spoke to the trainers who will fly the flag for Queensland about their excitement on being involved in the $50,000 total prize money event and the challenges on winning away from home soil.
1st - Amber Boody – Hollow Words
Amber Boody didn’t enter the National Straight Track heats with a great deal of confidence about two-year-old Hollow Words, but after scraping through in fourth in his heat the young chaser upstaged a host of fancies to win the Queensland Final at $14.
“We didn’t go in with a huge amount of expectation, he’s a good dog and has run time there before, but there were plenty more accomplished runners than him, but it was a nice surprise to see him beat them home,” Boody said.
The dog has shown potential right from the start performing admirably in his first three starts in the Vince Curry Series but has turned his attention to the shorter trips of late.
“He started out his career in the Vince Curry Series where he won a heat and progressed through to the final over the 520 metres which is probably his future,” Boody said.
“His recent runs over the 395 at Albion and 431 at Ipswich have been promising and had him sharp for the Capalaba trip.”
Not expecting to qualify for the Nationals, Boody has been left with the task of getting the logistics right for Hollow Words to run his best race in two Sunday’s time.
“It’s a bit of a head spin. I feel a lot of responsibility representing the state and I had people coming from left, right and centre on Sunday to offer me advice, I’ve got to book my tickets first before worrying about the race,” she said.
“I think a trial is going to be essential and with the lure on the rail it’s far more important to draw an inside box, there is a fair bit he’s going to have to deal with.”
“We’re really happy with his progress, he’s still only a young dog and has achieved a fair bit thus far, this is just another experience in hopefully a long career.”
2nd - Certification – Greg Stella
Greg Stella entered the National Straight Track heats with Capalaba specialist Above Average an odds-on pop to advance through his heat and final. When the $1.35 favourite struck trouble in his heat it was left to understudy and Tony Brett Memorial winner Certification to pick up the slack.
“He was certainly our second stringer behind Above Average in the lead up to the event, but as it worked out Above Average’s only unplaced run at the track was in the heat, but that’s dog racing and luckily we got one back with Certification,” Stella said.
“Everything went to plan with him winning his heat until he got ran into in the catching pen, the same way Regal Topaz sustained a nasty injury a few months ago.”
“He didn’t have a great week leading into the final and we weren’t too sure whether we would start him or not, but he got up for it and after a tardy start did a great job to qualify and most importantly pulled up well.”
Certification’s start to his career has been impressive, but you can’t buy experience and Stella expects the locals to have a clear advantage on their home deck.
“Healesville presents a whole new challenge with the rail lure instead of the drag lure and the sand track, which are significant changes for a young dog to deal with,” he said.
“We’ll be sure to get him down there nice and early and give him at least one look at the track, because the Victorians with their local knowledge are going to be the ones to beat.”
Stella has already organised kennelling for Certification and Above Average who he plans to run in a non-graded race and is of the belief anything is possible for his Queensland representative.
“Regardless of result the trip will do him the world of good, a chance to represent Queensland with ten starts under your belt doesn’t come about too often and a dog of his ability you never know,” he said.
“I can’t wait for the series to be home at Capalaba next year, both Certification and Above Average will be a year older and we’ll look forward to hosting the Victorians and South Australian’s on our own terrain.”
3rd – Dusty’s Charlie – Peter Furbank
Dusty’s Charlie had been racing consistently behind the likes of Above Average, Tiempo Dinero and Dusty’s Delight up the straight for Peter Furbank, but he saved his best for when in mattered beating them home for third in the Queensland National Straight Track Final.
“I’d had my eye on the race for a while, he’d been fairly well performed behind some good dogs at the track without winning and with a bit of luck we were able to turn the tables at the right time,” Furbank said.
“He’s come through the race really well and couldn’t be in better condition for his first interstate trip.”
Furbank is fully committed to competing at the highest level come race day and quickly begun plans for the trip south.
“Once I knew we had qualified you immediately go into preparation mode, thankfully we have part one ticked off with a place to stay with a fellow trainer where we’ll be based from Friday the 9th, nine days out from the race,” he said.
“It should be a good amount of time to settle into the new surroundings and get a trial in the Wednesday before the race as a tune up.”
Furbank is fully aware what his two-year-old will be up against in a foreign environment and conferred with a fellow Queenslander of what they had to overcome.
“I spoke to Greg Stella and we both concur that the rail lure is going to be a massive disadvantage, I think the drag lure in the middle of the track provides equal opportunity, even the old lures we used in England on the outside rails are probably easier to adjust to,” he said.
“In saying that I couldn’t be happier with his progress it’s a great reward for him qualifying for this race, it’s a little odd representing Queensland with my English roots, but some of my old warm clothes might come in handy down there.”
Remarkably Dusty’s Charlie is yet to win away from Capalaba and the trainer has his sights set on bigger goals once he returns.
“He’s still only a Novice. He’s only won the two races so it’s a massive effort just to be competing against this calibre of dog,” Furbank said.
“Thursday night over the 520 at Albion is our goal with him, but he’s still got to win around a circle track he’s got plenty of upside.”