By Alex Nolan
Wrestler turned greyhound trainer Daniel Gibbons won multiple titles in the ring but when it comes to racing, he hopes Rohan Bale can fill a void in his trophy cabinet during the winter carnival.
Rohan Bale heads into Thursday’s Group 3 Dashing Corsair Final over 710 metres at Albion Park as one of the leading fancies after his impressive heat win on debut at ‘The Creek’ last Thursday.
Out of the Wheeler family’s good producer Houston Bale, Rohan Bale boasts six wins for more than $40,000 in earnings and is one of numerous talented pups by Feral Franky trained in Victoria by Gibbons and his wife Rebecca.
A half-brother to multiple Group 1 winner Jarick Bale, by Allen Deed, Rohan Bale was lining up for just his fourth start over the staying trip last week and handled the occasion with aplomb.
Dropping out to last early, Rohan Bale stayed out of trouble near the fence when the field jammed up going past the post for the first time.
He roared away to record a three length victory ahead of a fast-finishing Bedrock Fred in 42.44 seconds and has drawn box one for this Thursday’s $25,000 to the winner final in race six.
Arriving from Melbourne by air just two hours before he was due at Albion Park, Gibbons said he held some serious reservations for Rohan Bale heading into the heat.
The trainer would leave ‘The Creek’ pleasantly surprised, given the dog had been sidelined for failing to pursue after receiving an “abrasion to the left fore paw”, despite winning at Sandown on May 19.
“I was very surprised with how well he handled the travel because he’s a real strange and spooky dog at home, it took him two months to settle into our kennel,” Gibbons said.
“Before Thursday he hadn’t done any serious work since Sandown Cup night.
“I think he’ll improve a lot this week because prior to last week, the furthest he’d travelled was to Warrnambool.”
Gibbons hopes a bold showing on Thursday may secure Rohan Bale a call up for next week’s $57,500 Group 3 Super Stayers Invitational, also over 710 metres at Albion Park, before going on to the Group 1 Queensland Cup heats the following week.
A crack at that feature double would see Rohan Bale follow in the footsteps of Xylia Allen, owned by the late Paul Wheeler and trained by Gibbons’ grandfather, legendary trainer Graeme Bate.
Xylia Allen completed the Queensland Cup, then Albion Park Gold Cup, and Super Stayers double in 2014 but Gibbons isn’t getting too far ahead of himself.
“We’d hope to get an invitation for it and then we’d look to stay on for the Group 1 Queensland Cup,” Gibbons said.
“It will all depend on how he handles this week.
“Winning any trophy at the moment would be great … we’re chasing trophies because we still haven’t won something to put in the cabinet."
Gibbons admits he was a latecomer to greyhounds despite his family being steeped in the sport.
After leaving school, he spent 12 years as a panel beater and another three years as a tattoo artist.
He was also well known for his exploits as a wrestler under the nickname ‘Danny Psycho’.
“It was all in the Australian scene – at one point I would’ve been in the top two or three in the country,” he said.