By Isaac Murphy
The Burman name has become an institution in Queensland greyhound racing, with the husband and wife duo of Ray and Mary teaming up to create one of the most respected and successful kennels in the state.
Though their status hasn’t diminished the winds of change are sweeping through the kennel with prolific winners Champagne Sally and Magic Hornet seeing the track for the final time, while youngsters Blue Diva and Big Boy Bruce try to fill their giant shoes.
“It’s a big transition Champagne Sally and Magic Hornet spoilt me a bit with their success, shifting the focus to the young ones if they can achieve half of what those two did we’ll be very happy,” Mary said.
“They’ve got ability and only time will tell if they’ll share some of the rare traits of the other two, but they couldn’t have started off much better.”
The young brigade get their first chance to impress at Albion Park this Thursday night after promising starts to their careers at Ipswich, Big Boy Bruce jumps from the five in the Novice while the talented Blue Diva comes up with the red in the first heat of The Young Guns.
Blue Diva was a standout in The Vince Curry Memorial Maiden Series finishing third in the final at only 18 months old, Mary Burman rapt with what she showed in the time-honoured series.
“Our main goal starting her off in The Vince Curry was to see her get back to back races and a chance to improve, which she certainly accomplished with her heat and semi victories,” she said.
“Unfortunately, we didn’t get the win in the final, but we certainly weren’t disappointed with her running third the three runs against quality greyhounds was a great education.”
Blue Diva showed above average early speed without pinging the lids at Ipswich and Mary Burman said she’ll have to be on her toes if she wants to match it early with the likes of Tony Brett’s Painted Picture.
“Painted Picture is obviously a proven commodity I think he broke 25 seconds at Ipswich over the 431 the other day, so there’s no doubt he’ll be up there contesting the lead.”
“She has the ability to put the accelerator down after those first few steps, but if she wants to take the next leap she needs to get those first few strides right,” she said.
“You make your own luck in the front and if she can use to the box to get there, she’s shown to be pretty strong home.”
Burman said it was a big decision to put Blue Diva straight into the Young Guns, but not wanting the litter mates to clash she chose the Novice for Big Boy Bruce and decided Blue Diva was up to the test.
“It was a big decision putting her in the Young Guns rather than a Novice, if starting in the Vince Curry wasn’t hard enough now she’s got to back it up in an even deeper field,” Mary said.
“She’s the youngest bitch in the field and has just three starts to her name, we’re not expecting miracles but think she can compete.”
As two fledging careers begin two draw to a close with the Burman’s making the tough decision to call curtains on the careers of prolific winners Champagne Sally and Magic Hornet who combined for 51 wins and almost $350,000 in prize money.
Champagne Sally was a revelation, holding the current track records over the 600 at Albion Park, 520 at Ipswich, 630 at Ipswich, the third fastest 520 time at Albion Park and a Group Two Top Gun stayers crown at The Meadows in October last year.
Mary Burman said the renowned chaser was still coming to terms with the fact her racing days were over.
“She hasn’t taken to retirement very well yet, she gets out in the paddock and runs a million miles an hour like she’s ready to race,” she said.
“She runs more than my pups run when I take them out in the morning, so I think it’s still sinking in she doesn’t have to chase like she did every week.”
“It got to the stage where one injury was causing another injury and the last thing we wanted was to go out doing something serious, it was a tough decision but one we’re comfortable with.”
Mary said the couple had already fielded multiple offers to breed with Champagne sally and Magic Hornet, but rarely chose to sell and were looking forward to doing their own breeding.
“We’ve had a few offers already, but I’ve always liked to breed, rare and race my own dogs, so we’ll probably keep it in house,” Mary said.
“It’s part of the industry I love, breeding my own stock, it certainly adds to the all-round satisfaction.”
Mary was honoured for her work with the Greyhound Adoption Program at the Queensland Greyhound Awards last Friday night.
A long-term advocate for the program Mary said the initiative had provided homes to several her greyhounds over the years.
“I send a lot of my dogs to the Greyhound Adoption Program after they’re finished, so it was nice to get some recognition,” she said.
“As a greyhound lover I’m just incredibly happy we have a program in place that can take care of the animals that have taken care of us.”