By Isaac Murphy
Emmaville Star burst on the scene as a promising pup winning a heat of last years Vince Curry Series, but trainer Tony Zammit and owner Clint Kratzmann knew they had a stayer not a sprinter on their hands and after a patient nine-month spell, the pair rug up the two-and-a-half-year-old in Friday Night’s Listed Gold Cup Final.
Given her time off it is a remarkable training effort from Zammit to have the bitch facing some of Australia’s best Group One stayers off a limited preparation.
“We would have liked her to have had a lot more starts under her belt but persistent toe injuries and coming on season have held her to only nine starts and I thought she might be a few runs short before last week’s heat,” Zammit said.
“It was only her second seven hundred having been posted wide and never in the race her first start, she’s taken good benefit and run a really good third in a giant jump in grade.”
“The main thing with her limited starts is taking something away from each run and we’re hoping she can take another few steps forward this week.”
The bitch tackles the likes of Group winners Boom Down, Bago Bye Bye and Just Terms in a stacked field and Zammit is banking on natural progression to see her keep up.
“The three is a good draw for her she’s been a railer since day dot the closer to the fence the better and it’s a familiar alley from last week which should only help,” he said.
“We’re very weary of the interstate dogs they can be the big improvers after their first look at the track, we saw Boom Down second up run a big race in winning his heat and I expect a dog like True Detective who was all over the place last week to sharpen up.”
“Win, lose or draw Friday night it’s been a hell of an effort to make the final and unless she wins, she’s still a fifth grader over the staying trips, I’m really excited to see where she’s at in three- or four-months’ time.”
Zammit is picking up on little signs that she is ready to mix it with her more seasoned company a unique racing pattern and no odds-on favourite in the field he gives his bitch a sneaky chance.
“Her strength over the distance is her even pace she’s able to hold throughout, she can get away alright but is not lighting early and at this stage isn’t too strong late, rather just runs her own race,” Zammit said.
“What I was most pleased about last week was probably her run home, Boom Down went straight past us and Bago Bye Bye but that’s his racing style, comparatively we lost no ground to Bago Bye Bye on the way home and established seven hundred metre dog when we’re at start two over the trip.”
Creating a speed map for the race would be tough for the best judges, with several possible scenarios to play out.
“For a staying race a lot rides on the dash to that first corner, True Detective led last week and has the red this week, Mick Patterson’s What About it in two can get out, Kendall in five is fast away and Bago Bye Bye looks to lead, Zammit said.
“In summary it’s only the heat winners Just Terms and Boom Down who won’t be contesting the early lead, it should be a tactical affair.”
Zammit had worked closely with owner, breeder turned trainer Clint Kratzmann for several years and it was a surprise to both parties to see Kratzmann’s brood bitch Iona Champion produce a stayer.
“If you go back to the nineties with the line it produced a few stayers, but it’s been a god while since we’ve seen any like her,” Kratzmann said.
“The mother Iona Champion was a very good free for all dog at Albion Park won a Winged Runner there, we were expecting some good sprinters but to get a born stayer was great.”
“She’s a really genuine one pace what I would call a grinder she just keeps coming and has had that trait from a very early age.”
Aware of Kratzmann’s breeding aspirations Zammit is chomping at the bit to produce some big results for his owner sooner rather than later.
“I’m looking to maximise her potential for Clint (Kratzmann) because the more races she wins over the six hundred and seven hundred metre trips the more value she’ll have for him as a brood bitch when her career is over,” Zammit said.
“We’re both expecting results in the next six months and as long as we can keep her fit, I’m confident they’ll come.”
Kraztmann echoed Zammit’s sentiments that Emmaville Star had a bright future both on and off the track, partially due to the trainer’s ability to bring her back from a career threatening injury.
“They only have short careers greyhounds and you can have the tendency to want to run them back, but Tony (Zammit) has taught me sometimes giving them an extra month off can extend their career exponentially,” Kratzmann said.
“In her case it ended up a ten-month layoff which knocked a bit of her brilliance off, but we’re starting to see signs again and that’s down to Tony’s (Zammit) training he’s just been so patient, a lot would have written her off, but he’s done a masterful job.”
“Don’t get me wrong I’m buzzing about what she can do on the track in the next year, but I’ve got peace of mind that I’ve got another brood bitch in the making that’s going to continue a very successful line.”