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Bowe’s band together to give track record a scare

By Isaac Murphy

Two months ago, training duo Justin Bowe and his uncle Gerard sent Final Plea up to Townsville to try to win a race, such was the rut he was in at home.

Fast forward to Sunday gone at Albion Park, when the dog won in 22.39 over the 395 - giving the 22.30 track record a real scare – and he is just one of a few flying high for the family.

Final Plea was always an above average chaser - a Queensland Derby finalist amongst other achievements - and was right on the edge of becoming a really good dog, something Justin Bowe thought he was from the start.

“The dog’s always had a tonne of ability; he won his maiden at Ipswich in 24.90 over the 431 and has 30.10 and 30.40 runs to his name over the 520 at Albion and Ipswich, as well a 19.55 clip at Capalaba,” Justin Bowe said.

“We knew he could run time, but did we know he would run 22.39 - probably not it, just all aligned for him.

“He used the box, wasn’t hampered at any stage and really got to open up it was good to see.”

“To see him fly the lids like that was probably the most pleasing because we know he can run further than the 395 and the reason we sent him up to Townsville earlier this preparation was because he was getting into a bit of trouble out of the boxes.”

Albion Park


Sean O’Connor owns several dogs with the Bowe’s and backed his trainers who were certain a stint up north would help.

“I had a chat with our owner and good mate Sean O’Connor and said I think he can go up there for a few runs to get some confidence back with a few wins and he did just that,” Justin Bowe said.

“We brought him back down and he was a different animal, he was walking a lot taller and that’s translated to his racing.

“We’re looking forward to getting him back up over the 520 in the next couple of weeks and hopefully he can keep things rolling.

“Another positive of the trip is when the Townsville Cup rolls around we know he loves it up there, I think the 498 metres is an ideal distance for him.”

Bowe had the fifth-grade final over the short course to deal with before he tried to step him up and was not perturbed when he found trouble from box six, instead concentrating on next week’s plan.

“Monday I’ll bring him back to Albion for a post-to-post Monday and I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see him winning that Thursday,” he said.

“He’s still a fifth grader on Thursday nights at Albion Park which I think he can be more than competitive in with his newfound belief.”

Fresh off his 22.39 effort, the Bowe’s looked to the Capalaba Cup Heats as an ideal event given Final Plea’s history at the track, but it wasn’t to be in a cracking field.

“We wanted to keep the ball rolling after his hot Albion Park win and went to the Capalaba Cup Heats with him, and despite drawing a hot heat I thought he was a real chance having run 19.55 there a few starts ago,” Justin Bowe said.

“Unfortunately he didn’t begin and despite looking for runs everywhere found a wall of dogs in front of him he just couldn’t get past.

“James Van De Maat, who calls down in Victoria and at the Healsville straight, messaged me about what an unlucky run it was so it’s nice to see he’s got admirers.”

Even though their main hope at Capalaba went under, the Bowe’s were already celebrating after Cult Hero won heat one of the Cup, but will have to produce a near perfect performance to win this Sunday.

“We were lucky enough to have another very good dog in the heats in Cult Hero, who loves it up the straight at Capalaba and ran a big race to win his heat,” Justin Bowe said.

“He’s won a number of times at the track before, he had success in the Young Guns there, but he’s going to have to go to another level if he wants to with the Cup on Sunday.

“With the fields the way they were, it’s a great achievement just to make the final.

“He’ll make or break his race at the start, with the new loading process he just hasn’t been getting away as well and wanting to get to the outside of the track from box three might be tough.”

Another possible star in the making is Hirstglen, who was all set for the Launching Pad series in Melbourne before COVID-19 hit, but now Justin Bowe is using his time off to let him mature before aiming another target race.

“We had a bit of a reality check with Hirstglen when he was given a bit of a spell on the sidelines, but we’ve tried to make the best of the time educating that dog so he comes back even stronger,” he said.

“He only turned two on Monday, so to have him at home, keep him fit and get rid of any bad habits hasn’t been the worst thing.

“We’ve had a number of offers from New Zealand, but with so much in front of him we’re happy to keep him at the moment and see what we can achieve with him first.”

The kennel is never afraid to travel with their dogs when they see a suitable race and if everything works out, a trip to the Northern Territory could even be on the cards.

“The plan when he comes back is to head to the Darwin Cup, I was talking to Tommy Tzouvelis who is a regular up there and he thinks it’ll suit the dog down to the ground.”

“He said you’ve got to be a strong dog to get it done up there and Hirstglen is the definition of that, we’ve just got to get him back at one hundred percent.”

You can sober up pretty quickly in greyhound racing, and it hit the kennel hard to see star stayer Slick Raven go down with injury.

“We were really looking forward to getting Slick Raven to all the distance races Albion Park has put on over winter, but we started her in a 520 to build fitness and it was pretty devastating when she suffered a career ending injury during the race,” Justin Bowe said.

“We’ll get her back healthy and comfortable at home and hopefully she can become a really good brood bitch for us.

“We’ve never had a stayer with her motor, so we’ll sit down and figure out where the best way to go with her is in the near future.”