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Col Harris Heats a perfect pathway for Floral Lace

By Isaac Murphy

Col Harris was a giant at the Ipswich Greyhound Racing Club, and the much-loved greyhound personality has left a lasting impact on the industry years after his passing.

The running of the annual Col Harris Gold Sovereign Heats gives young greyhounds like Graham Hall’s Floral Lace a launching pad for their staying careers over the 630-metre test.

The race is restricted to zero to four-win greyhounds and has attracted three intriguing heats this Saturday night, and Hall and Floral Lace are hoping to build on the pup’s first staying win at the track and trip last week.

“We saw this race on the horizon and wanted to get her up over the 630 metres at Ipswich a couple of times before the heats came around and to have her win in the fashion she did last week was perfect timing,” Hall said.

“She did everything right out of the lids and used the gate to lead, but I was most impressed with how she responded when Fire Drill went past her - she really powered to the line.

“With the restrictions on this race it comes along at a perfect time for her in her career, she gets in a feature event where she gets the chance to progress from a heat to a final without going up in grade - it’s a really important series for a bitch like her.”

Trainers often use two-and-a-half-years old as the yardstick to step up in distance, but Floral Lace has done in at just twenty-two months as the trainer just couldn’t ignore her traits.

“There were definite concerns about getting her up over more ground with how young she is, but she was giving us every indication she wanted the trip and sometimes you’ve got to take a leap of faith and touchwood it’s worked out well so far,” Hall said.

“She was far from slow over the 500-metre trip, she won her maiden in average time at Albion Park (30.55) and came to Ipswich and went 30.69 to win her Novice a few starts later so she clearly likes the track.

“We gave her a few more starts over the traditional trip and she just wasn’t getting on the bunny, but since we’ve had her up over the 600 and beyond, she’s been one of the first out.”

Ipswich

WWW.IPSWICHGREYHOUNDS.COM 630m

Hall began to become concerned when Floral Lace went a stretch of 500-metre races where she was having to run on from the tail, much preferring her front running staying style.

“We’ve been fortunate with her box draws first up over the 600 at Albion Park and last start at Ipswich, but you still have to use them and it’s really good to see her jump and run,” he said.

“That’s how you get confidence into young dogs is getting them to the front on the arm, that’s where they mature and learn to race properly.”

Floral Lace doesn’t get the benefit of the inside this Saturday, but Hall thinks last week’s win should have her riding high and ready for a finals spot.

“Her heat on Saturday night is definitely a tougher field than what she faced last start; I’m not concerned about the five box and I think if she steps the way she did last Saturday then she should be forward again and even if she doesn’t lead she is fit and can run on late,” he said.

“We’re asking a fair bit of her given her lack of racing and age but she’s handled every hurdle we’ve put in front of her so far and I’m confident she can take that next step and hopefully give herself a shot in the final.

“We’d love to see her come out and win the series but there’s plenty to be gained even if she can’t make the final.

“It’s another solid hit out over the 630 metres which she should take further conditioning from and we’ll head to Albion Park on Monday nights to hone her craft before an eventual step up to the 700.”

Floral Lace isn’t the only stylish looking progeny of the Barcia Bale/Goodnight Sky litter, with a brother already making waves and two sisters waiting in the wings.

“They’re looking like a handy litter; Blue Bandana along with Floral lace are the two that have been really forward and allowed us to get them to the track early, but I’ve got another couple of bitches who are yet to start,” Hall said.

“He (Blue Bandana) doesn’t quite have the motor his sister has and we’re happy to keep him ticking along over the 500s through his grades at the moment, but he’s a well above average chaser.

“The dam Goodnight Sky belongs to George Miltos down in Victoria; this Barcia Bale litter was just her second, but she looks like she’s going to be a really good brood bitch.”

Floral Lace Next Racing

Hall is well versed in his breeding with two litters on the ground at his Marburg property at the moment, and he’s hoping to grow in numbers through self-sufficiency.

“We’ve got five or six in work at the moment and thirteen pups being broken in, ideally we’d like to have ten to twelve race dogs that we own but it takes a while to get there and hopefully the two litters breaking in now can help us in that regard,” he said.

“Our goal is to breed and race our own and repeat that process.

“It takes a while to find the right line, we’ve got a couple of maiden dams but we’re confident we’re on the right track.”

Hall has a rich racing background and having moved back to his home state is looking at short and long-term goals for the kennel.

“As a family we’ve had greyhounds for many years but more as a hobby while I was working full time,” the trainer said.

“I retired and we spent six years racing dogs in Victoria to learn a bit of the craft and be exposed to a different racing environment.

“We’ve been back for two years now, I’ve spent most of my life in Queensland and the weather and prize money up here are outstanding.

“The biggest thing we’re hanging out for is the Yamanto development in a few years’ time.

“By that stage we hope to be fully established up here and being based at Marburg nice and close to be able to go down the road and race our dogs.”