As was the case with Rocky Balboa, a fictional title character and the protagonist of the “Rocky” film series, Langhorne Creek greyhound Balboa Fury continues to pick himself up off the canvas.
Owned and trained by Tony Hinrichsen – who seems to have no shortage of interesting dogs – Balboa Fury was back at Tara Raceway on Thursday to contest the Greg Martlew Autos Stake (400 metres).
Slowly away from the outside, he took full advantage of a rails run down the back before finishing over the top of Glenville Rose for a two length win in 23.73 seconds.
Fair enough, the time was nothing flash. But it should be pointed out that a considerable amount of water has passed under the bridge since Balboa Fury won Mount Gambier’s 2019 Winter Classic (512 m) in a still-standing race record time of 29.84 seconds.
As Hinrichsen tells it, though, the story actually goes back to 2009 when he purchased a bitch called Fighting Fury for $600.
“She ended up winning 11 races, three of those at Tara Raceway in 2010 and 2011, including a heat of a Mount Gambier Cup,” he said.
“Later, when mated with Dyna Tron, she produced a pretty handy type in Menzel Boys who won Mount Gambier’s 2016 Summer Classic (512 m). Then, the following month, he ran third in the Mount Gambier Cup final (512 m) behind Mojito Mayhem and Danyo’s Frank.
“Also in the litter was a 24 kilograms bitch that raced as Lethal Fury. She won 10 races at Angle Park, Gawler, Strathalbyn and Tara Raceway where she was successful in a Summer Classic heat.
“And a subsequent litter to My Bro Fabio in November 2017 included a black dog that would later race as Balboa Fury.”
At the time of the 2019 classic win, Hinrichsen rated Balboa Fury as one of the best dogs he had raced. However, these days, Filthy Phantom – Australia’s busiest greyhound with 288 starts and still counting – probably also rates a mention.
By the time 2019 had drawn to a close, Balboa Fury had won a further five races and taken his overall tally to 12 wins. But, according to Hinrichsen, 2020 started off in disastrous fashion.
“At his first run for the year at Murray Bridge he was stood down for 90 days after dropping a back leg muscle,” he recalled.
“But by the end of April he was back on the track although it would take until September before he won consecutive races up the 300 metres straight at Murray Bridge.”
As the year drew to a close, Hinrichsen once again ventured down to Mount Gambier with Balboa Fury – for the first since his Winter Classic win more than 12 months earlier.
“To be honest I’d been happy to get him back on the track and win a couple more races with him,” his owner-trainer said. “But when he dropped the other back leg muscle in his Mount Gambier race and was stood down for 60 days I figured it was time to call it quits.
“The plan was then to place him in Greyhounds As Pets but by the time he had failed the GAP assessments on five occasions it had become painfully obvious that avenue was no longer an option.”
Remarkably, some 16 months later Balboa Fury was back at the track – at Gawler on March 4 this year when he finished 5½ lengths fifth over 400 metres. He has now raced on a further 13 occasions with Thursday’s win his first since Murray Bridge on September 30, 2020.
In one of greyhound racing’s feel-good stories, Balboa Fury, now with 101 starts to his name, is continuing to refuse to go down for the count.
Meanwhile, reserve runner Redleg Bull Ant, jumping from box one, was the fastest qualifier in Thursday’s Commercial Hotel Fast Forward heat (400 m) when clocking 23.25 seconds for Myrniong trainer Mark Giddings.
Having his first start at the track, the black dog is by US sire Barts Outofmyway, who from limited matings in Australia has done well with a current strike rate of 20% this year. Redleg Bull Ant’s dam, Go Go Zarbo, is a granddaughter of another US sire in Flying Penske.
Four heats of the monthly Fast Forward series for 1-4 wins greyhounds were conducted with the eight fastest, irrespective of their finishing positions, to contest next Thursday’s added-money final.
Second fastest qualifier in a time of 23.27 seconds was Terang trainer Christian Roberts’ Lubbock Lad who also won last month’s Fast Forward final when gaining a run as a reserve and clocking a quick 22.99 seconds.
As things panned out, the four heat winners advanced to the final along with three second placegetters and one third.