By Isaac Murphy
Gin Gin trainer Ron Brook’s greyhounds are perennial contenders at the Bundaberg Cup.
The veteran trainer won his home race for the first time a few years ago, and in Kiewa Rebel he thinks he has the dog to give him a second trophy next Monday as he comes in fresh off an impressive heat win.
Brook said the dog had grown up racing at Bundaberg since day one, and knowing every blade of grass should come in handy in the final.
“Experience is a big advantage for him, he’s been around that track all but a few of his fifty-two starts and knows how to take all the short cuts getting home,” Brook said.
“As a young dog he didn’t have great box speed, so he would always drop back and have to make up ground on the rail.
“It’s ended up being another string to his bow because if he doesn’t jump, he won’t panic drop to the fence and work his way into the race - and if he does get out, he won’t leave the steel.”
Kiewa Rebel was the quickest dog to come out of the three semi-finals, driving hard from box two to find the fence early before surging away mid-race.
Despite that win, Brook talked through a number of other chances.
“Fernando Tears is a very good up-and-coming dog for Phil Carter but has been blessed with a lot of box ones in his young career and may find it tougher from out wide,” he said.
“Dolcetto Hayze who’s getting a start as a reserve can race well from any box, Purdi Villa will get off at the corners and David Plummer’s dog Richmer Attack is just finding her feet over the distance.
“It’s one of those races where you could go from a two-to-one favourite to a ten-to-one depending on the box draw; I’d love to be somewhere inside though.”
Brook says he takes a lot of pride in his Bundaberg Cup record, and regularly turning out challengers in 2020 has been no different.
“I’ve had ten runners in Bundaberg Cup Finals over the years and finally cracked it a couple of years ago with a dog called Crazy Bob, who we backed up the next year looking to be the first to win two in a row but he got beaten half a head,” Brook said.
“I think overall we’ve one it once, had three seconds and a couple of thirds, it’s a race we really cherish and to win it with this dog would be something else.
“Apart from the Cup, the Derby is the only other race at Bundy I haven’t won and that’s something I want to tick off before I call it a day.”
Timing is everything in greyhound racing and when a virus swept through the kennel a couple of months ago, Brook thought it might throw out his cup plans, but the dog will present spot on come Monday.
“We had the dog virus in our kennel a couple of months ago and while he didn’t get it we shut everything down for a month to make sure we got on top of it, so Tuesday’s Heat win was just his second 550 metre run since February,” Brook said.
“He came back over the 460 three starts ago and rattled home into the placings.
“After that I was even a little dubious whether to put him in the prelude or not, but I’m glad we did as he ran Dolcetto Hayze right to the line.
“From thinking we might not make it to the Cup with him to winning his heat and looking really fit for the final has been a big effort from the dog.”
There is a good story behind every greyhound, but after being bred in Victoria not many would have thought Kiawa Rebel would end up at Gin Gin with Brook.
“Kiewa Rebel came to me in very unique circumstances, he was bred in Victoria out of Kinloch Brae and a nice dam Te Akai Kahn, and the litter found their way to a friend of mine Michael James,” he said.
“Michael brought them up to me to be reared at four months and another good mate of ours Geoff Small bought a couple of the pups, one who’s retired and the other Kiewa Rebel for me to train.”
The dog developed into one of Brook’s favourites and the thought of him adding a Bundaberg Cup to his resume after modest beginnings was getting him excited.
“I had some doubts about him early in the piece, he was getting in a lot of trouble early,” Brook said.
“But if you got back through his fifty-two starts, he’s only ever drawn the red three times and for a dog crying out to get to the fence you could safely say he would have won a lot more races.
“As a pup he was very hesitant and it just took time for him to find himself and develop a race pattern where he was comfortable, he’s done that now and he’s jumping a hell of a lot better.
“He’s just been a real little grafter, he’s as honest as they come and fabulous to be around the kennels - he’s one of those dogs you’ve always got a lot of time for.”