By Isaac Murphy
Twelve months ago, Fast Times won the 2017 Brisbane Cup, making him a dual Group One winner before the age of three.
The greyhound world was, seemingly, at his feet.
Unfortunately, for champion trainer Tony Brett and passionate owner and former rugby league legend Terry Hill, not everything is a fairy-tale and the star sprinter was struck down with a career threatening injury.
But the pair never gave up on the chaser and ten months since his last start, Fast Times will line up in The Group One Brisbane Cup Heats this Thursday with a chance to defend his crown.
Brett said the dog was given a 20% chance of getting back to the track, but not giving him the opportunity to return was never an option.
“The plan was to just get him back. We didn’t put a time frame on it things just fell into place that he’ll resume at the scene of his last triumph,” Brett said.
“If anything, he’s probably a few weeks off where he needs to be, but we couldn’t resist the lure of a race that obviously means so much to us.”
The pecking order of Queensland Greyhound racing has changed with Fast Times off the scene and Brett is realistic about the dog’s chances in a tough field.
“I was hoping there would only be four heats with local dogs and it would probably be an easier introduction than a Best 8 he would otherwise start in, but as it turns out we’ve got some really good heats,” he said.
“He’s not up to the Maurice Minors and Cosmic Bonus’ of the world who both line up in his heat, so as much as I’d like to think he can mix it with them if he can run a place I’d be over the moon.”
Brett said the injury was a tough pill to swallow at the time and could not guarantee the dog would get back to his brilliant best but was elated to give him a new lease on life.
“The main thing for us is he wants to race and is not ready to retire,” he said.
“Hopefully he might just need some racing and it may all start to click again.
“But I always relate it to athletes when they return it takes them a few weeks to find that competitive fitness you can’t replicate in trials.”
Brett said Terry Hill had stood by him in every move he’d made to get Fast Times back on a race track and had kept him in the loop on where the greyhound was at.
“I rung Terry before I put the nomination in yesterday and told him I didn’t think he was quite the dog he was,” Brett said.
“He trialled 22.68 on Monday night which for a normal dog you’d be over the moon, but in his hay day he would have run 22.50 everyday off the week.”
Hill and Brett have built an association together based on trust, the footballer turned greyhound tragic full of praise for Brett’s training ability.
“We thought he’d never race again, all the credit has to go to Tony,” Hill said.
“He was given a 20% chance of racing again and here we are lining up in the Heats of a Group One.
“Tony has nursed the dog for ten months to get him back to racing it’s quite remarkable, not too many blokes would wait ten months to start a dog again.”
“In my opinion he’s the best trainer in Australia, it doesn’t hurt he’s a Manly Supporter either.”