By Isaac Murphy
Up until a couple of months ago trainer Joanne Price was resigned to the fact her chaser Infrared Lad may never tap into the potential he showed as a pup.
At that time he'd posted just one win from his 24 career starts.
Fast-forward to January 2 and the dog had just won his fourth race from six outings, uprooting the likes of Double Gee and Big Bad Bob over the 600m at Albion Park.
He now looms as a winning chance in the feature Clem Jones Cup Final over the same distance this Thursday night.
“When we were trialling all the pups around twelve months ago I was probably most excited by him, he was absolutely trialling the house down,” Price said.
“Once we got him to the track in fields he was finding trouble getting knocked around and it just completely shook his confidence.”
Price tried everything under to sun to get the dog going, but it was a trip to the Postman’s Ridge Greyhound Complex that started the transformation.
“We kept pulling him out and trying him over different distances, but the turning point is when we sent him up to John Collins (Postman’s Ridge Greyhound Complex) for a couple of weeks and he came back a different dog,” Price said.
“He’s got that confidence where a little bump won’t deter him now, he’ll still knuckle down and produce a good race and that’s where the wins have come from.”
Despite his meteoric rise Infrared Lad faces his sternest test to date in the feature Clem Jones Final at Albion Park, where in Price's words he’ll have to tackle the big boys again.
“I just got told what box he drew (8), in what is probably the toughest field of his life it’s going to be a challenge,” she said
“He was able to beat those dogs last week but box one gave him a huge advantage.
“He loves to find the fence, so he’ll have to do that the hard way this week.”
Price said the dog had improved both physically and mentally in the last year and had struck form at the right time with some suitable races approaching.
“You can see it in his body how he’s grown the last twelve months,” she said.
“There was nothing of him when I first started racing him, but he’s in ideal condition now his coat looks brilliant.
“We want to try to get him up to the 700m eventually, but we’ll keep him over 600 while we still have a couple more races for him and look to step him up after that.
“He’s in a final at Capalaba on Sunday and we’ll use the next couple of Thursdays to tune him up for the Group 3 (Queensland Cup) and re-assess from there.”