By Isaac Murphy
Warren Nicholls could be forgiven for being pessimistic about 2019 Young Guns Champion Common Ground with the bitch missing a total of nine months racing since last January’s crown, but less one toe the bitch is back and looking better than ever and Nicholls is ready to cash in on some overdue success.
Common Ground returned from her most recent spell over the 331 metres in mid-January, but it was over the 520 Nicholls would see just how good she was and a first up thirty second flat runaway win last Friday has her back on the path to bigger races.
“Given her injury history and rolling her back up to the 520 for the first time in six months I was definitely nervous, to see her get around in one piece was a big relief,” Nicholls said.
“All three times we’ve had to tip her out for significant injuries have been because of a dodgy toe, we’ve tried fixing it but it got to the point it was such a recurring issue the vet suggested we take it off all together.”
“There were obviously risks involved you don’t know if they’ll get around the circle as well, but after a couple of 331’s it was time to test her over 520 and she came through with flying colours going thirty flat with no signs of soreness post run.”
Running a 29.88 personal best at just twenty-one months old Common Ground looked a sure-fire open class bitch, after so much time out of the game Nicholls was concerned she wouldn’t make it back to where she was but Fridays run allayed all fears.
“She’s still got it, she missed the start from box eight which she tends to do there but 11.51 down the back when she’s a couple of weeks off her best is very encouraging,” he said.
“To bring her back we wanted to be racing her in the bigger races and with a bit of fitness I think she can shave that 12.90 run home down to 12.70 and be right in the mix wit the best of them.”
“If all goes to plan, she’ll be running the same time and hopefully even quicker than when she was winning the Young Guns as a pup.”
Missing out on so many opportunities has made Nicholls even more determined to make the most of the back half of her career starting with a trip South.
“We’re definitely looking to make up for lost time with her as we head towards a Maitland Cup and possibly onto the Golden Easter Egg with her and a couple of kennel mates Dusty’s Delight and Copy Workshop over the next month,” he said.
“I think Common Ground and Dusty’s Delight are both capable of winning the series the one turn track should suit their first and second sectionals down to the ground, I’m taking them down next week for a trial ahead of the heats the first week of March.”
“It’s a good opportunity to take some other young dogs down too Copy Workshop could find his way into the final and See Them Try who won his Novice the other night comes to mind as one that could become a very handy chaser.”
Nicholls has a win now mentality for Common Ground and with no Group racing at home has picked his time to travel.
“It’s the time of the year you go searching for races like the Maitland Cup, Group status and $40,000 prize money is not to be sneezed at and all three dogs are top grade up here so why not chase the cash,” he said.
“If all goes well at Maitland I’ll probably push on with Common Ground and Dusty’s Delight to the Golden Easter Egg at Wenny (Wentworth Park) which is about a week later, hopefully we’re in for an exciting six weeks.”
Nicholls is keen to make some new memories with his star sprinter, their first trip away resulting in a last-minute scratching.
“The last time I was going away with Common Ground was at the Young Guns and Wentworth Park where she was a red hot chance before she did her toe for the first time, a trip away and a crack at these feature races is long overdue but we’ve got there,” he said.
“The time away was obviously crippling but you’ve got to look at he positives, she comes back a far more mature and keen race bitch, she’s a real professional and just wants to get out there and race, her mindset has certainly gone up another notch I just hope her legs can go with it.”
“She won’t race again until the Maitland Cup heats, I’m trying to avoid any contact with the virus going around at the moment, but I can tell you we’re both counting down the days to see her back out there.”