By Isaac Murphy
The Bundaberg Derby was run and won, in an action-packed day of racing on Monday at the newly redeveloped club.
Rockhampton trainer Darren Taylor claimed the Derby with another four-year-old in Faringdon and also saw the well-bred Rose Ali reach next weeks Oaks Final, the trainer rapt with the days results.
“He’s one of our favourites in the kennel (Faringdon). We weren’t sure what we had when the owner brought him to us and he’s gone on to feature in two Group Three Finals (Townsville Cup 2018, Rockhampton Cup 2019), won metropolitan races and racked up plenty of wins at home (Rockhampton) he’s been a star,” Taylor said.
“He’s on the wrong side of the hill now he’s getting a bit older, but he’s racing with some real zest and looks to have found his mojo again which has culminated in winning the Bundaberg Derby.”
Taylor’s Bouldercombe kennel is a family affair and when Faringdon came to them as a seasoned dog it was a team effort when they decided to take him on.
“It was a family decision to take him on well past his third birthday. My two boys especially my oldest Jordan do a lot of the work getting the dogs right and it’s a real team effort in where we place and run dogs like Faringdon,” Taylor said.
“It’s a big part of greyhound racing finding their right grade and it’s something we’ve got quite good at over the years getting dogs from down South and finding success for them up here. Faringdon isn’t the first who’s found a new lease on life with us.”
“We’re blessed with what we have at our disposal with plenty of beach work and swimming, there are a lot of advantages racing up North.”
Taylor will look to complete the Derby Oaks double with the well-bred Rose Ali a forward chance.
“Rose Ali is a full sister to Rasheda. She came to us through our race caller here Liam Mulry who is a big part of the syndicate and was nice enough to trust us with a really handy young bitch, who will go on to be an excellent brood bitch,” Taylor said.
“She’ll probably only have a very short racing career due to her bloodlines, so we’re looking to make the best of it while we have her and she’s just starting to get wound up now, which is really exciting for a race like the Oaks.”
“She’ll be a seven hundred metre dog down the track, and I’d expect to see her over the distance at Albion Park very soon.”
Taylor said while there are similarities between Rose Ali and her star sister Rasheda she was still very raw and would be up against some stiff competition in the final.
“She’s very, very strong like Rasheda, probably a little quicker out, but does find a real dead spot down the back and then starts cranking through the gears, the way I see it the 550 is a big short for her she’s really only getting going late,” he said.
“The Final is going to be a nice race with Alpha Themis running quick time and Jeff Crawford’s dog One El has ability, it’s going to be a competitive affair.”
“The key to everything may be the draw, ideally for us we’d probably like somewhere from six to eight which would suit the way she gets out and works into the race.”
Entrenched at their property travel come with the territory for Taylor, but the re-opening of the Bundaberg track has been huge for his kennel.
“In the last five or six weeks we’ve been going gang busters at Bundaberg, our dogs are really well graded and handling the grass track to a tee,” he said.
“The club is really well run it’s nice having a pit stop between home and Brisbane.”
Meanwhile Catton’s four-year-old Alpha Themis did his best to steal Faringdon’s derby thunder, exploding out of the pink box and crossing to record an impressive win in just her second run back from a spell.
“She sustained a bit of an injury in the Group One Gold Cup, which we got right before it flared up again and we gave her some more time off, but it looks like it’s done her the world of good because she’s come back flying,” Catton said.
“I took her for a conditioning run over the 460 metres the week before up there, as expected she got back in the field and rattled home and I thought that really put the writing on the wall for a big run in the Oaks heats.”
“It looked an ideal race for her, and the timeline was fairly spot on for where she was with her injury, she got a couple of trials under her belt and then the run the week before had her ripe for a nice race like the Oaks.”
In an ominous warning for her competition Catton believes his bitch will only go quicker third up, her flexible racing style giving her a huge chance at taking out the feature.
“I think she’ll only get better third up, I’ve got my fingers crossed we can draw from the six to the eight I think it’ll suit her down to the ground, she doesn’t like pressure on the outside she prefers to go around dogs,” he said.
“She can be off the pace and hit the line strong, she led last week but she’s not a one trick pony and I think she’s as good as anything in the field.”
The wrong side of four Alpha Themis’ racing days are numbered, but Catton is bullish about her breeding career with a top sire already singed out.
“I said to her owner Chris Georgiou this would be her last preparation, she’s gone past four and has a really good dam line to her and we’ve decided to go to Zambora Brockie with her who I think is potentially a very good stud dog.”