By Isaac Murphy
White Ox may have finished second in qualifying for this Thursday night’s TAB Queensland Short Course Final, but the prolific sprints winner is number one is trainer Di Hannon’s books. She believes he’s as good a chance as any over the 331-metre dash tomorrow night.
The uniquely marked dog celebrated his fourth birthday in December but seems to only be getting better with age not finishing any worse than second over his past eleven starts, a level of consistency that has landed him in this race.
“He’s one of those dogs that has earnt a position in a race like this, he’s been a model of consistency on the track and a perfect animal at home,” Hannon said.
“They’re very easy to train when they have an attitude like his and go out and chase hard every race like he does.”
To win twenty-five races over the short course you have to be fearless and rapid out of the boxes. Two qualities White Ox possesses, but Hannon said there is no room for error in a quality field.
“He doesn’t always come up with the plum box, but it doesn’t bother him where he’s drawn. Posted out in the seven in last weeks heats he charged across and made his own luck,” she said.
“I’m a bit conflicted on the draw this week (2). The outside boxes are very handy for a dog that jumps well from the 331 metre boxes, but if he can hold his position on the rail that can win him the race too.”
“Bill Elson’s dogs Cosmo Bill and Wazza Who are always very hard to beat, but it’s hard to put a line through any of them. They’ve all qualified and over the 331 you have to do everything right.”
Like most trainers, Hannon aspired for White Ox to become a Thursday night 520 metre dog and while that didn’t eventuate, he’s put together a remarkable career and gets a shot at a Thursday night triumph this week.
“We were hoping early days he would step up to the 520 metres, but a lot of Paw Licking’s progeny seem to stick to the shorter course and we’re just rapt to see the career he’s put together without racing on a Thursday night,” Hannon said.
“A big reason he’s been able to win twenty-five races is the fact he’s always been kept reasonably sound, but it’s a great achievement nonetheless.”
“Touch wood he’ll be racing for a while longer yet, I don’t look at age so much but how they’re behaving and he’s still excited to go to the track and get out and chase.”
You won’t miss White Ox in Thursday night’s field. The predominantly white chaser easy to spot for the kennel favourite.
“The credit goes to my Grandson Joshua for the name, we bred him here at our property and at four months of age his colouring and build were so unique he said we should call him White Ox,” Hannon said.
“He’s always been a favourite for all of us, but Josh has had a special liking to him and already has a couch picked out for him at home when he does retire.”
Greyhound racing is in Hannon’s blood and after modest beginnings she has made a life-long career in the industry she loves.
“I’m a second-generation trainer through my father and started off at the Gold Coast hinterland where he sent me three pups and it’s just grown from there,” she said.
“I’ve always been fortunate to breed good dogs myself I’ve been very lucky in that respect, there’s no perfect way to breed dogs but we continue to produce handy ones.”
“I bought the property at Coominya with Reg Hazelgrove because we had a common philosophy with training and breeding, we’ve done plenty of work, but the hard yards are very rewarding.”
Hazelgrove and Hannon have formed a formidable partnership with proven breeding success and a hunger for the next White Ox.
“The bitch line we have goes back around four or five generations and just keeps producing, somewhere along the line we’ve pulled the right string,” Hannon said.
“We’re always thinking about the future we’ve got a couple of litters of Fernando Bale’s on the ground and are constantly thinking about which of our own animals we can breed with.”
“The nurturing you have to do from birth is very hands on, you form a really strong attachment and that’s something I’ll never get sick of.”