Monday, June 18, 2018
Rocky, better known as Rockoon to greyhound racing followers, wandered into Tara Raceway on Sunday in typical laid-back fashion, nothing appearing to faze him as trainer Tracie Price went through the ritual of kennelling him in readiness for the Rock’s Retreat Mixed Stake (600 metres) later in the day.
Rockoon, the best credentialled greyhound to take the trip down Lake Terrace East in quite some time, had recently transferred from Keith Hellmuth’s Pearcedale kennels to Compton, both owner and new trainer hoping the 35 kilogram white and black dog could derive some benefit from a confidence-boosting run in Mount Gambier.
The son of Peter Rocket and Raya Riot hit the headlines last November when winning the Group 1 Hume Cup (600 m) at The Meadows before winning a heat of the Bold Trease over 715 metres at Sandown Park and then running fifth in the final behind million dollar dog Fanta Bale.
But a subsequent injury saw him off the scene for five months, three runs upon return in April and May resulting in well-beaten efforts at Sandown Park and Shepparton – Hellmuth saying later that Rockoon had been trialling as well as ever and that he believed it to be a confidence thing.
And if connections were looking for a confidence booster then Sunday’s five-dog race was probably as good as they could have hoped for with their Group-winning greyhound jumping from box one with a record of 24 starts for 10 wins, eight minor placings and $124,575 in prizemoney.
Pre-race, Price led Rockoon into the parade ring adjacent the kennel house, the trainer appearing to have more spring in his step than his dog.
“He’s just a beautiful dog,” Price told onlookers hanging over the fence looking to check out Rocky who, if nothing else, looked resplendent in a red racing rug that was further highlighted by his big white frame.
“He’s a great kennel dog – quiet, clean and certainly no bother to have around,” he continued.
Next, it was off to the preview area where greyhounds, if trainers believe it necessary, can view the lure going around in what is known as a “stir-up”.
Price opted for a preview, although he could have saved his time, Rockoon giving the impression to the “fence-hangers”, at least, that he was not really all that interested in the lure going around – unlike a couple of his opposition in the preview yard with him that were carrying on in a frenzied fashion.
Then it was off to the 600 metre boxes by way of another parade ring stop over, Price and Rockoon leading the way with Good Yarn, Joshy Wink Wink, Vectis Campinae and Hit The Runway following.
Hit The Runway, a last start winner over 600 metres in a handy 35.30 seconds a fortnight earlier at Tara Raceway looked to be Rokoon’s main danger, especially if the son of Oaks Road x Full Noise Turbo could run up to his personal best time of 35.10 seconds.
As it turned out, Rocky had only been kidding. The starting box lids came up and he was off, quickly finding the front over Hit The Runway and prompting race caller Ray Fewings to declare “he’s going like the old Rockoon.”
And then as the margin continued to lengthen, “Tracie Price has revitalised him” and into the home straight, “he might even run a near track record.”
On the line Rockoon had 11 lengths to spare over Hit The Runway with a further six lengths back to Good Yarn in a time of 34.86 seconds.
While it would probably be fair to say that Tara Raceway on Sunday was not really conducive to track record times given the amount of rain in Mount Gambier over the past few days, Rockoon’s run was the second fastest ever at the track – McIvor Verna’s 34.84 seconds run almost 12 months ago to the day.
Rockoon sauntered back to the kennel house, job done, leaving local greyhound enthusiasts to ponder the magnitude of the run and to further appreciate just how good it had been to have a Group 1 greyhound grace their track.
Meanwhile, another of Price’s stayers in Bekim Lucy’s has been retired for breeding after suffering a wrist injury at Angle Park last Thursday night.
Owned locally by Willie Vossen and Michael Robinson, Bekim Lucy’s raced on 67 occasions for 11 wins and 25 minor placings.
Speaking on Sunday, Robinson said a sire had not yet been chosen for the daughter of Bekim Bale and Lucy’s Moment.
And Brian Weis, of Portland, reports that Xtreme Gretel, the dam of Xtreme Caution, this year’s Mount Gambier Cup winner, has whelped a litter of three dogs and four bitches to boom sire Fernando Bale.
This is the US-bred Xtreme Gretel’s second litter, her first, by Barcia Bale, having now won 48 races.