By Isaac Murphy
It’s a long way from Neil Lyford’s Kulnura property on the New South Wales central coast to Townsville, but the trainer was more than happy to send prolific winner Bumpy Black north.
She’ll kick off her Townsville Cup campaign in Saturday morning’s prelude, and the trainer thinks it’s Bump’s time to shine in the Sunshine State.
Despite the distance between his base and Townsville, Lyford has the inside line with what’s going on at the track.
“I’m quite in tune with what’s going on up in Townsville; I have other dogs up there with Robert Lound who trains locally and sold a dog up there to Scott Atkinson, so I knew the Cup was approaching and thought it would be a good race to test Bumpy in,” he said.
“I was originally going to travel up myself with the bitch but the borders were closed again, so I sent her up to stay with Greta Thomson who Robert (Lound) referred me to and she’s care taker for this next three weeks with her.”
Her 15 wins from 26 starts is a hell of a strike rate but Lyford says she has plenty to prove away from home and over an unfamiliar trip.
“She’s probably a little underdone at the moment but that’s why I made a point of getting her up there a couple of weeks early and having a run in the prelude this Saturday,” Lyford said.
“The question mark around her is she hasn’t won any further than the 430 metres, but she’s won a lot of races and beaten a lot of good dogs and I think she’s ready to be tested over further distance in a tougher race.”
Lyford thinks the dimensions of the 498-metre track at Townsville is ideally suited to what his charge has to offer.
“From what I’ve heard about the Townsville track, it should really suit her racing style,” the trainer said.
“She knows how to handle a short corner start being a short-course dog and then you’ve got the long straight to the finish where I think she’ll spot the line and get motoring.
“From what I know there aren’t any other dogs from down Central Coast way coming up for the race and competing with the Brisbane dogs is obviously going to be a challenge, but I think if things go her way she can definitely make the final where anything can happen.”
There haven’t been many lean stretches in Bumpy Black’s career, except in February this year when the near two-year-old learnt some lessons the hard way at Wentworth Park.
“The only time she’s struggled is when I took her to Wentworth Park for a few runs earlier this year, in hindsight she just wasn’t ready,” Lyford said.
“She’d only had the six starts in her career and was untested over the distance and just didn’t handle it, but we took her back home and she began to rack up the wins and is looking like a far more confident chaser now.
“She’s won that many races now where there’s no point putting her around in Free For All’s at home against the same dogs every week.
“We want to see how good she is and I’m confident she’s capable of winning a race like the Townsville Cup or Listed race in the near future.”
Lyford said the bitch was a real professional with a racing style that has been successful over the short course and should hold her in good stead over the longer trip.
“She’s pretty set in her racing pattern so she’ll come out with them, won’t skin them for early pace but if she avoids the checks early, she can really explode mid-race and beat some of the weaker dogs,” he said.
“For a sprinter you’d think she’s won a lot of her races by just getting to the front but it’s not the case, she’s quite often in second or third and sees the line and just steams home in the last twenty metres - she knows how to get there and win.
“If you trial her by herself then she won’t run you anything fantastic, but put her in a race against some competition and give her something to chase and she’s a better dog.”
Lyford’s greyhound roots stem from Queensland, where he enjoyed great success decades ago, and he hasn’t looked back since.
“I started in dogs with Tom Patterson at Ipswich; I had a dog called Short Model who was Greyhound of the Year in 2000 after winning the Winter Carnival Group 1 at Albion Park over Winged Runner,” he said.
“I had another dog Golden Danny who won an Ipswich Cup and Flying Amy Classic.
“Having those dogs with a bloke like Tom really got me hooked and I spent about 20 years in Queensland as a trainer and owner.”
Looking for more space, Lyford went south and has a few big years ahead with a couple of gun litters on the ground.
“I’ve been down on the Central Coast for three years now, we have 50 acres here at Kulnura,” Lyford said.
“We’ve got 11 in work with two litters being reared at the moment and another few with injuries, so it keeps me busy.
“I like to do most of my breeding myself and after the success we had with Bumpy’s dam Izzy Marlow, I actually bought her and I’ve bred two litters to her since, from Dyna Double One and Zambora Brockie.
“The Dyna Double Ones have just got broken in and she’s just been served by Zambora Brockie, I’m hopeful of some pretty hot pups.”