By Isaac Murphy
At two years of age True Detective has a Group One Hume Cup and fifteen total wins to his name for Jeff Britton, but the Victorian faces his biggest challenge yet in this week Gold Cup Final where he not only has to contend with a bumper field, but his first trip away from Melbourne and the balmy Queensland conditions.
Known for his early dash the dog went straight to the lead in last week’s heats but preceded to go bush on the first turn and raced green throughout scraping through to the final finishing fourth, Britton hopeful a week can be a long time in greyhound racing.
“He might need four of five runs around the track the way he went bush last week,” Britton laughed.
“In all seriousness, he should benefit from the run he’s pulled up great and found his right box (1), hopefully we’ll see his true potential this week.”
The track and conditions aren’t the only foreign commodities for True Detective who also has to deal with Queensland dogs he hasn’t raced before, Britton hoping his dog can run his own race and not worry about the others racing patterns.
“It’s hard to know what the interstate dogs can do early you have to rely on replays,” he said
“I think you’ve really got to just trust your dog will play to his strengths and at the forefront of that is his early speed, he probably cost himself four lengths running off last week if he can navigate the turn, he’ll give them a really good sight.”
Jeff sent the dog up with brother Robert last week who was luckless with track record holder Tornado Tears, but indicated the stifling heat had taken it out of his champion and probably affected True Detective on his maiden trip away.
“I was talking to Robert (Britton) who was up there last week, and he said the humidity was quite high on the night he’d never seen Tornado Tears so gassed after a 700 and my dog is not as clear winded as his, a drop in temperature would certainly help,” Jeff said.
“You have to take into reckoning it being his first trip away as well, by all accounts he handled the travel well, but conditions and the track got the best of him.”
“Despite having a few things against him he’s managed to make his way into the final which is what we came for.”
Despite the stunning record of fifteen wins from twenty-four starts Britton insists True Detective is a work in progress and while it only took him four starts to win over six hundred he still had boxes to tick as a true stayer.
“I’d say at this stage of his development he’s a lot better six hundred metre dog than seven, in saying that I’m confident as he gets older, he’ll settle into the trip and we can avoid some of those tricky corner 600 metre starts around the country.”
“His box manners are what sets him apart over the staying trip, right at the moment he’s taking the small steps late but if he can continue to put himself in a position to win the back half of his race should develop.”
Britton said it was all about placement for True Detective and with the staying ranks relatively light on compared to the sprint events a race like the Gold Cup was perfect for his developing stayer.
“He’s got ability and it’s my job to keep him in races where he can show that off with his front running style,” he said.
“The Gold Cup looked like a race he could do that in, a quality field but we only had to finish fourth to qualify and I’d much rather race in a listed final than see him buffeted around over the shorter trips.”
The Britton operation is a team effort with partner and Group One winning trainer Angela Langton and owner George Farrugia a big part of the kennels success.
“I’m not a big follower of breading I leave that up to Angela (Langton) and George Farrugia, between the three of us we make a pretty good team they source a well-bred dog and it’s up to me to get a read on them and where they’ll do their best racing,” Britton said.
“In his case you could see it pretty early on he was doing things that his contemporizes weren’t and we’ve been able to build a great record with him.”
“He’ll head home after this week with plenty of races on for him in the Meadows Carnival and hopefully if he comes through this week well, we can take him on another trip away to Sydney.”