By Isaac Murphy
John Catton is primarily known for the marvellous job he’s done as president of the Capalaba Greyhound Club, but the veteran dog man is far more than an effective administrator with a number of dogs in work. His latest acquisition Lucky Hero lines up in tonight’s Group Three Golden Sands at Albion Park and the owner, trainer is confident he has a big future.
“I had a client looking to buy into a young stayer and we heard that John and Minnie had one for sale and what better kennel to go to with their staying pedigree,” Catton said.
“We wanted a young dog that had a bit of exposed form and he fit the bill perfectly. Sixteen race starts under the age of two and he came to us off two dominant victories over the 618 trip at Richmond.”
Lucky Hero’s last race start in New South Wales was a nine-length win on the 22nd of December and in the space of a couple of weeks he was up in Queensland competing in Ipswich’s Corporate Dollar series.
“It was a pretty short turn around from his last run-down South in late December until his first up run in Queensland in the Corporate Dollars at Ipswich. He hadn’t had much of a chance to settle in,” Catton said.
“We didn’t go in with too many expectations he’d never seen the track before and it showed when he bombed the start by five lengths, but to see him run through an entire field and get up affirmed we had something a bit special with him.”
Still under done, Catton doesn’t give Lucky Hero a huge chance of winning his Gold Sands heat tonight but is confident if he continues, he’s a chance of earning a place in next week’s final that is up for grabs.
“It’s the same sort of deal for him in the Golden Sands tonight with not much expectation, but we’re hopeful he can finish in the top four, off a short preparation. If he were to progress, he would be fitter and stronger next week,” he said.
“He’s obviously not of the class or experience of a Bago Bye Bye or Ash Star who he tackles in his heat, but he doesn’t know that. We’re just hoping he goes out there and continues to chase like he has been.”
“It’s a brilliant initiative by Racing Queensland to add a Group 600 metre event to the Summer Carnival. We’ve got so many well credentialled dogs over the distance who get their shot at some really good prize money.”
While Lucky Hero is more than capable of winning over the sprint trip, he was born and bought to stay and Catton is looking forward to what the future has in store.
“He has decent box manners on his day and will be a very strong 520 metre dog. It’s clear already he wants further, hence the quick step up,” he said.
“He’s not two until next month and is far from the finished product, over the next period we’ll look to progress him through his fifth grade 600’s on Monday night’s at Albion and 630 metres at Ipswich on Saturday, until we think he’s ready to tackle the big boys.”
“We see him as a potential Group Class stayer whether that’s over the 600 or 700 remains to be seen, but if he’s up to it I wouldn’t hesitate to travel to take him to suitable races down the track.”
While Catton has been away, fellow trainer Terry Priest has been looking after Lucky Hero and the former gives all the credit to Priest for the smooth transition.
“I have to give a massive thanks to Terry Priest who’s been taking care of him while I’ve been away,” Catton said.
“It’s no easy task taking a young dog into a new environment and he’s made him feel right at home from the start and tells me he’s in tip top condition for tonight’s assignment.”
While Catton has training and owning interests currently at hand his Capalaba obligations are never far from his mind, a huge bump in prize money set to draw a ripping field for February’s Capalaba Cup.
“We’ve got the Capalaba Cup coming up at the end of February and we’re hopeful we’re going to have some really strong heats down there. With the increase of prize money to $37,500, we’ve had trainers from Victoria and New South Wales contacted us about times to come up for trials,” Catton said.
“To jump from $5000 to $37,500 is huge and we wouldn’t be getting those calls from down South and some homegrown guns as well.”
“A couple of locals that come to mind are Master Douglas for Ray and Mary Burman, Made in America for Greg Stella and as for visitors Rob Cooke’s Cash Point has run some serious time up here, it’s going to be a really competitive event.”