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Never Walk Alone chases nine straight in Capalaba Cup

By Isaac Murphy

Capalaba racing was dearly missed in the early months of 2020, but the delay was a godsend for Casey and Alan Dargusch who were desperate to give ten time Capalaba winner Never Walk Alone a shot at the Capalaba Cup.

In the end, they not only made it but ran the fastest heat time and will go out one of the favourites for Sunday’s Cup having won eight straight at the track.

Late last year, Casey Dargusch took Never Walk Alone to Capalaba for a return from injury, and a couple of months later they had a bona fide straight track star, but it can all change in a moment in racing.

“He was in career best form, had just won seven in a row a Capalaba including the inaugural TAB Anniversary Final and it was just an innocuous trial around Christmas where he did a stopper about three quarters of the way up the straight,” Casey Dargusch said.

“The positive was he’d had an unbeaten preparation, but we were obviously bitterly disappointed we couldn’t keep him going - we had to get over that pretty quickly and dedicate ourselves to his rehab.”

The Dargusch’s did just about everything they could to get him back, without risking his health too early, and the timing was spot on.

“We’ve been the beneficiaries in the end of the Cup being pushed back because of the flooding and resurfacing, he only had his first trial back at Capalaba two weeks ago, so he would have been no chance of making the original date,” she said.

“He trialled there on Monday before the heat and we were really encouraged by what we saw first run out of the boxes in four months.”

There’s a big difference between a solo trial and a heat featuring one of Queensland’s hottest young prospects Hara’s Clyde, but that didn’t deter the straight track veteran.

“We weren’t overly happy where he drew (3) and it was also his first time going into the boxes with the new loading system, but when Alan (Dargusch) trialled her he left him in there a little longer and it seemed to work on the weekend anyway,” Dargusch said.

“His best is 19.54 and to go 19.64 after one hundred and forty days off, to come out and do that was amazing - I would have been happy with him running third as long as he was healthy.”

Capalaba

CON SCIACCA Capalaba Cup (L) H 366m

The 2020 Capalaba Cup is arguably the toughest edition in years, with strong 520 metre dogs like Hara’s Clyde, Hammer Down, Edelman and Stinger Noir up against speed machines like Quick Storm and Made in America.

It’s a lot to digest but Dargusch is happy with Never Walk Alone.

“We’ve got to worry about our own and he’s pulled up a treat after the heats and we’re drawn where we want to be in the six,” she said.

“Stinger Noir and Edelman who are drawn outside us are generally slower beginners, so it should give us the best chance to get to his favourite part of the track down the outside and get an unimpeded run.

“Along with Made In America, he’s the best performed up the straight and while Tony’s (Brett) dogs (Hara’s Clyde, Hammer Down) and others are better performed around the circle it’s almost like a home game for us.”

Never Walk Alone has already broken-down barriers for the kennel; their first Thursday night winner, eight in a row at Capalaba and eighteen wins overall, but Dargusch said if he won the Cup it would far outweigh anything they’d achieved before.

“We had a finalist in the Bundaberg Cup about six or seven years ago who was a real chance and didn’t get the breaks on the day, but apart from that this is the biggest thrill and moment for us in our training lives,” she said.

“I was that nervous last week, I couldn’t even go to the track and watch.

“I was pacing the house until he raced, was yelling at the screen and in the end just so relieved to see him home happy and healthy.

“The nerves will kick in again Sunday, but I’m definitely more relaxed this week knowing that he’s ready to go.

“We couldn’t have done anymore and what will be will be, he’s taken us on such a ride this dog we’ll love him no matter where he finishes.”

The Dargusch’s are not only known for their training talents but also their ability to breed, rear and break in at their Churchable property, something which led to a great relationship with fellow trainer George Clegg and son Grant.

“We got a phone call out of the blue from George asking us if we could rare Big Bad Bob’s litter when they were about five months old and the friendship has just grown from there,” Dargusch said.

“George and Grant are two of the nicest blokes you’ll ever meet, have always stuck by us and just let us do our thing even when we’re training their dogs.”

Most recently, the pair split a Thirty Talks/Bralyn Casey litter who were starting to hit their straps.

“We whelped the mum and reared the pups, broke them in before we sent them onto George while keeping a few ourselves,” Dargusch said.

“It seems to be the theme with Thirty Talks that they’re a bit late to mature and none of the litter got going before two, but we’re starting to get the benefits now.

“Silent Talk has been a real marvel, he’s won seven races from nineteen starts now, after getting his confidence up at Capalaba he’s the one with the highest ceiling going forward.”

There’s always work to be done at the Dargusch property, with the couple always looking down the line setting themselves up for a big future.

“We’ve got a pretty busy kennel at the moment, we’ve got the next litter to Never Walk Alone coming along who are looking quite nice and we’ve got the next litter out of Silent Talk with Dyna Double - one which we’ll be training a few for George,” Dargusch said.

“We think we’ve put ourselves in a really good sustainable spot for the next twelve months, with a mix between some of our older dogs, younger ones and the pups on the way.”

Greyhound racing is a full-time gig for Casey and Alan, but are lucky enough to have a couple of sons who chip in - making them a real racing family.

“The whole family is involved in some way, obviously Alan and I do the heavy lifting, but our two boys Bailey and Riley play their part too,” Dargusch said.

“Bailey is always watching all of the races, tells me the form and who to watch out for and Riley is the one always giving them plenty of love around home, it’s a family affair.”