By Isaac Murphy
Last weekend was in a way the end of an era for trainer and owner Doctor George Clegg.
His champion chaser Big Bad Bob ran his last race at Capalaba, while Group One winning thoroughbred Pierata bowed out in his typical brave style, missing by a nostril in the G1 All Aged Stakes at Royal Randwick on Saturday.
However before either had raced at the weekend, a new star may have been unearthed with Lovely Stunner winning in eye-catching fashion at Ipswich on Friday.
“There’s no way I’m going to have the same level of success I enjoyed with Big Bad Bob and Pierata, but I’m training some exciting young Thirty Talks pups and still own a few horses,” Clegg said.
“Now Lovely Stunner has come on the scene, I’ve got plenty to be excited about.
“Big Bad Bob is just a remarkable greyhound, I’ve always said I get just as big if not a bigger thrill when he wins because I train him as well - we’ve spent a lot of time together and shared moments I won’t forget.
“He’s as happy and healthy as ever and has a home for life with me, I couldn’t ask for anymore.”
Enter Lovely Stunner, a rising two-and-a-half-year-old whose sister Major Rose holds the Ipswich 288 metre track record.
“Lovely Stunner was bought, owned and trained by Rob Lound up in Townsville and did very well up there running some really fast times,” Clegg said.
“She’d exhausted all her grades at Townsville at a young age and Rob called me a couple of months ago about taking her in.
“Unfortunately I didn’t have the room, so she went to Dennis Robinson who bred the litter down Northern Rivers way.
“Dennis gave her three or four starts down at Lismore, she had absolutely no luck with the draw or in the run and her Lismore form ended up looking fairly average when she was only half a stride off where she needed to be.”
Always keeping a keen eye on prospects, a month on Clegg had an extra spot in the kennel and it was only going to one greyhound - Lovely Stunner.
“I eventually had room for her and over the last month did a lot of work with her up the straight,” Clegg said.
“I trialled her at Ipswich in 25.30 a fortnight ago, and for her first look at the track I knew she was going to be competitive, I didn’t think she’d run 24.85!
“I called Rob after the race and he wasn’t surprised at all, he expected it from her.
“I said you’re only three lengths off the track record and he said well let’s go out and break it next time.”
With the record in sight, Clegg was straight back to work with the bitch after last Friday’s win, keeping up her appetite to chase.
“She’s the type of animal who needs a lot of work, I gallop her a couple of times a week,” Clegg said.
“This week she runs at Albion tomorrow and then in the Fifth Grade Final Friday, she loves the work.
“The plan is to take her through her grades down here, it’s one of the anomalies in that she was a top grader up in Townsville and comes down here straight into Fifth Grade.
“I did the same thing with Brindi Chopper and despite not reaching the heights we thought, we won about $20,000 with her and I think with this bitch we can at least match that if not more before sending her back home for Rob to breed.”
Lovely Stunner isn’t the only chaser on the rise from Clegg’s Gold Coast kennels, Cool Talk out of champion sire Thirty Talks is beginning to stand out as a bitch with a future.
“Cool Talk probably cost herself four of five lengths the other day and managed to rally and win in 30.80 at Ipswich, it was a really good sign she could become a stayer,” Clegg said.
“She didn’t have any favours from a tough draw (7) in the final, but she goes around again at Albion Park tomorrow as we look to get her through her grades before perhaps looking at a 630 metre Ipswich race down the track.
“Casey Dargusch has another three from the Thirty Talks/Bralyn Casey litter who have all won races for her, but all of the litter seem to be slightly slow to mature, I think you’ll see the best of them in six months’ time and beyond.”
Clegg confirmed that Big Bad Bob’s esteemed racing career had come to an end as of last Sunday, but with 137 starts, 41 wins and $170,000 in the prize money, Clegg was already prepping for a stud career.
“Bob won’t race again after Sunday, I thought low risk up the straight at Capalaba gave him one last go but we don’t want to risk him beyond that with our breeding aspirations,” he said.
“The next step is to make sure that he’s going to be a good sire, so I’m going to get some frozen straws from him and Sennachie and do a dual litter and that confirms we’ll get some success.
“There have been enquiries about him well before his retirement, I just want to do my due diligence and make sure people are getting bang for their buck before they hand the money over.”
Switching codes, Clegg said he couldn’t hide his disappointment after Pierata’s agonising photo defeat in Saturday’s All Aged Stakes.
It would have been a fairy tale finish for the horse and owner who is set to be stood a stud by Aquis.
“It was an excellent effort just beaten by a better horse on the day, the bloody thing (Tofane) got on his back and stalked him all the way and the pull in the weights told in the end, that was the difference,” he said.
“As disappointed as we were, what a ride he’s given us, and onto the next stage of his life now standing at stud which we’re all looking forward to seeing him do well in that field now.”
Clegg said apart from Pierata being nosed out, he’d enjoyed a brilliant run with his thoroughbreds lately.
Dawn Too Good won at Port Macquarie last Friday, and Nuclear Summit trialled brilliantly at Rosehill yesterday coming off a maiden win at Hawksbury.
“Nuclear Summit looks set to head to Saturday grade, Glyn Schofield who rode him in trial told us he stopped riding at the hundred, so he’s got plenty in the tank and as a full brother to Ef Troop we’d love to see him follow his footsteps,” Clegg said.
“All up I’ve had four last start winners from the six horses I have an interest in and that would have been five with Pierata if not for a nostril.”