By Isaac Murphy
Under owner and trainer Clint Kratzmann’s watch, Oh Mickey managed to collect $140,000 in prize money, a Group 1 National Derby and a Group 2 Richmond Derby in thirteen starts.
As good as the ride has been, Kratzmann is ready to take a backseat and handing the trainer keys to trusted friend Mick Zammit for the next chapter of his career.
“Mick (Zammit) trained a lot of dogs for me when I really invested in the sport around five years ago and we shared a fair bit of success, so him and Selena (Zammit) were the natural decision to take him forward,” Kratzmann said.
“Mick is a trainer that’s been involved with so many Group dogs over the years and knows how to handle them.
“Even though Oh Mickey has just turned two, you want to maximise their time racing and I know Mick will have him prepared for the big races.”
Mick Zammit concurred with Kratzmann that their history played a role, but was still flattered to be given the reigns for one of Australia’s hottest young dogs.
“We were always there for Clint when he first got serious about his greyhounds and have remained in contact and fairly close since, so it was nice to get the call about taking on a dog with the talent of Oh Mickey,” Zammit said.
“I think another of the main factors Clint took into account was the fact I trained, and he owned Oh Mickey’s mother Iona Champion, so there was a good bit of synergy there and they share a few similar traits.”
While any trainer in Australia would jump at the chance to have a dual Derby winner in their kennel, Zammit said him and wife Selena feel a sense of pressure to keep the dog at his peak.
“Being such a high-profile dog, it certainly comes with a bit of pressure to keep him going as good as he has been,” Zammit said.
“We’ve only had him for two weeks, but we’ve spoken to Clint a lot about what was working with him and we also have a few of our own ideas to get the best out of him as well.
“The most important thing was the dog settling into a new environment which he has, there was no fretting of anything and he’s still strutting around nice and confident which was a big relief.”
Having been in Kratzmann’s care his entire life, there is always the chance the dog could unsettle with the change of scenery, but the owner was confident Mickey would pick up where he left off.
“You’re always a bit concerned about them settling in, but I didn’t think Oh Mickey would have a problem, he’s a tough little bloke with a good temperament and going off his 24.8 trial he’s going just fine,” Kratzmann said.
“Mick was telling me he hadn’t seen a dog in a long time that was so ready and willing to work, we should hopefully see the best of him in the Best 8 this Thursday.”
Zammit praised Kratzmann for the way he presented the dog, and after a hot Ipswich trial he expected him to be the runner to beat in tomorrow night’s top grade race which includes new kennel mate Stiner Noir.
“The dog came to us in immaculate order and could have gone in at Albion Park to race straight away, but with the change we gave him a week off and a trial at Ipswich where he went 24.8 which let us know he was on,” Zammit said.
“We’re confident he can take that form to Albion Park tomorrow night as the class dog of a very good field and have the ability to offset the five with his early pace lead and win.”
The Zammit kennel are now in the unique position of having two of Queensland’s best dogs that will be going head to head most weeks, but thinks both will take benefit from the competition.
“We’ve obviously got Stinger Noir in the race as well who was a big winner last week and the likes of Shakey Diesel and Dynamite Lucy are genuine Best 8 dogs that will test him,” Zammit said.
“We’re in the fortunate position to have two top grade dogs going around at Albion Park every week.
We’ll just monitor their fitness and make sure they’re sound and hopefully when the borders open up, they’ll be ready to go to some bigger races.
“Ideally we can salvage the carnival up here even if races are postponed because they’re both going to be perfectly conditioned to race at their home track, while the interstaters haven’t seen it for a long time.”
While zoning measures have barred Oh Mickey from chasing more group success, Kratzmann thinks more miles in his legs at Albion park (where he’s only had four starts) will only help down the track.
“The strong competition he’s got up here at the moment will really put him in good stead for the long term, even I forget at times he’s only had thirteen starts and may not be fully seasoned until he gets around that twenty-five start mark,” Kratzmann said.
“It’s great experience for him tackling the Stinger Noir’s and Shakey Diesel’s of the world because they’ll really push him to become a better chaser and racing for six grand every week is good money anyway.”
Before the restrictions were put in place, Oh Mickey was a leading contender in the Golden Easter Egg market and recent news of a revised date had Kratzmann excited.
“I noticed that the Golden Easter Egg has been tentatively pencilled in for the June 6, I’m not sure what the conditions will be but hopefully the borders are back open and we can have a run at it,” Kratzmann said.
“That’s about six weeks away which gives Mick and Selena plenty of time to really target him towards that race.
“Touch wood he’s been a very sound dog and even though I’m not training we can sit at home and enjoy the ride.
“I still have to pinch myself when I look at his bowl at home which has Group 1 and Group 2 champion on it - we’re very lucky.”