By Isaac Murphy
Most trainers would have been bitterly disappointed running second in one of the biggest races of their career.
It couldn't have been further from the truth for Townsville trainer Michael Pandelakis, who was already planning his next move when Brindi Chopper ran a bold second to another Townsville-based dog Dalmatynski in the Racing Queensland Country Cup Final last month.
Pandelakis, who struck up a friendship with Mudgeeraba trainer Doctor George Clegg after last year's Townsville Cup, said the run confirmed Brindi Chopper was up to City grade.
She will now spend time in the Clegg kennel trying to make a name for herself in Brisbane.
“I met him (George Clegg) when he came up here for the Townsville Cup, which he won with Big Bad Bob last year and we just got talking greyhounds and the relationship built from there,” Pandelakis said.
“When we were coming down for the Country Cup I wasn’t sure where we were going to kennel and George actually called me and said bring her down to my place.”
Pandelakis said he had spoken to Clegg on numerous occasions about bringing his bitch down for an extended stay at Albion Park, but her Country Cup run and subsequent Masters performance made the move a formality.
“She ended up running 30.18 in the final and George said to me I guess she’ll be staying with me for a while and I said bloody oath, it was a brilliant run,” Pandelakis said.
“The time she ran in the Country Cups Final she would have placed in the Best 8 race that was on that night.
“As impressive as her Country Cup run was I was even more pleased with her effort last Thursday, nothing really went her way from the eight and she still ran a gritty second, it really affirmed to me she can win races down here.”
Pandelakis said he was quietly confident Brindi Chopper could notch her first metropolitan win this week with a cosy draw and some local insight from Clegg.
“The hardest thing for me is that I don’t know all the tendencies of the dogs she’s racing, so George has been great in letting me know how he thinks she’ll go in each field,” Pandelakis said.
“We’re both fairly confident she can knock over her two Masters wins, before she moves up to Fourth Grade, if she handles it I can’t see any reason we couldn’t keep her in Brisbane permanently.”
Pandelakis said Brindi Chopper had originally made her name as a short course dog in Townsville, but with age and maturity is enjoying the 498 metre trip at home and the 520 metres at Albion.
“She’s four years old next month and the way she’s racing you’d think she’s a two-year-old,” he said.
“When I came down for the Country Cup Final and stayed with George he couldn’t believe it when I told him she was turning four in a couple of months, he wanted to know my secret.”
Pandelakis said the knowledge and experience he had picked up in his time with Clegg was invaluable and he was looking forward to seeing the veteran trainer bring out the best in his bitch.
“The two or three days I spent with him, watching the way he operated his kennel and treated the dogs I knew we had her in the right place and if I was ever coming down again this is where I would want her to be,” he said.
“The plan is to see how she goes for the next month and if she goes as well as expected I can’t see why I won’t keep her down there.”
Pandelakis also shed some light on what Townsville trainers were dealing with after the recent flood rendered the track unusable.
“The track is almost totally washed away, to get everything up and running again will take a good month,” he said.
“We’ve been lucky with our kennels bring in one of the higher parts of town, but I know trainers that have had all sorts of trouble having to evacuate their dogs.
“It does bring out the good in people though, we’re a tight-knit community up here and everyone has been helping each other out.”