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Russell the right man for Cool Talk

By Isaac Murphy

Darren Russell has built a reputation over a long period of time as a trainer who gets the best out of his greyhounds and it was his track record with stayers that convinced owner Grant Clegg to hand him the keys to Cool Talk.

The progeny of Thirty Talks has started out on the right foot for Russell winning over the 600 metres on Monday night, but the new trainer is adamant there’s more to come.

Grant Clegg said Cool Talk had always stood out in her Thirty Talks/Bralyn Casey litter as a bitch that would get more distance and two weeks in he was already seeing good signs under Russell.

“She gave us the inkling very early on that she was going to be a stayer, she was doing a lot wrong running off the corners covering a lot of ground but she’s learnt to jump rail and what she did last night was, I dare to say, a little Big Bad Bob like,” Clegg said.

“She was unlucky last start at Albion when she was still with us, all she needed to do was go under the leader but didn’t want to take the gap, where Monday night she shot straight through - Darren has her going great already.”

Known for his training exploits with Group 1 stayer Bago Bye Bye, Clegg said Russell was the natural choice and if he wasn’t convinced already, a trip to Russell’s kennels made his mind up for him.

“It’s all very exciting for us, I was fortunate enough to visit Darren’s kennels a few weeks ago and those kennels you could eat off the floor,” Clegg said.

“I just watched him work with a few of his dogs and he leaves nothing to chance.

“He’s as professional a trainer as you’ll find, and she couldn’t be going to anyone better equipped to get her to that next level.”

Cool Talk

Russell wasted no time getting Cool Talk into work, wanting to carry her residual fitness that is so important for stayers.

“She had her first start for me at Ipswich a couple of weeks ago over the 630 metres where she got into a little bit of trouble trying to get underneath the leader and didn’t get a good look in,” Russell said.

“She didn’t put a foot wrong last night, bounced out of the boxes and found the fence, drew away mid-race and ran good time for her first win over the six hundred at Albion Park - it was an encouraging start.”

Russell is often approached with dogs and makes sure he does his homework before making any promises.

“I do my due diligence when I get approached with a greyhound that’s already done it’s fair share of chasing, I had open and honest discussions with Grant who gave me full autonomy to do my own work with the bitch who I think is going to make the grade as a stayer,” he said.

“You have a really close look at their form and try to break down the video to identify what kind of speed, strength and probably most importantly room for improvement they have because I want to be able to take the animal to the next level.”

Cool Talk has been doing most of her recent work over the 630 metres at Ipswich, but Russell has higher aspirations than restricted Grade on a Saturday night and was rapt with the way she handled the Albion Park circuit last night.

“I see her future at Albion Park; looking back at her Ipswich form where she’d spent most of her time recently, she was just forming a few bad habits, running off the track, ducking in and out at the post the first time around,” he said.

“I loved the fact that she showed no fear taking the run inside the leader last night, you’re going to get in traffic if you want be to be good stayer and she’s learning how to pass other dogs - we really want to heighten that field sense.

“The style she won in Monday night was completely different to how she’d been going at Ipswich, I know she won there a few starts ago but it’s done her the world of good to get her to headquarters.”

Albion Park


Russell is already exploring all options for Cool Talk’s best path forward and the trainer is not scared to pit her against the best if all goes well.

“Looking at her program she’ll go into another 600 next Monday night, and if she can reproduce something similar to the other night, we’ll start to look a bit further forward,” he said.

“She’s very fit and I wouldn’t shy away from getting her up to the seven hundred in a fortnight, she looks like she will handle it but you don’t know until you try them.

“If she continues in the right direction you look at a race like the Queensland Distance Final in mid-August as a realistic goal; she’s got plenty of work to do before then if she wants to compete with Classy Ethics and Velocity Bettina, but they’re going to be our long term competition so why shy away.”

Bago Bye Bye is the second quickest dog ever over the 710 metres at Albion park and after his retirement earlier in the year Russell was without a stayer, a hole he’s happy to have filled.

“It’s great having a stayer back in the kennel, I just wish I had her a couple of months ago because the Queensland Cup and other Group races over winter were certainly winnable at the time,” he said.

“Taking nothing away from the winners, but the depth probably falls away quite heavily after those first three of four dogs.”

Cool Talk looms as the first of Thirty Talks’ progeny to succeed over distance, and Russell isn’t too worried about the breading, more the way she’s handled her new home.

“I don’t know a huge amount about the Thirty Talks breed, but attitude-wise she’s settled in a treat here; I was able to put her straight in at Ipswich the first week I had her,” he said.

“She seems to have taken a liking to the place, loves going up the straight at home and is a picture of health.

“The only real change I’ve made with her is take a little bit of weight off, but nothing substantial and last night tells me I was probably right in doing so.”