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Getting his star back to the track no easy feat for Dillon

By Isaac Murphy

No Easy Beat was on the verge of superstar status when he won the Molly Campbell Silver Dollars Final in 29.65 last year.

The following week he was on his way to another scintillating win when he dropped both back muscles tackling the first turn.

Trainer Rusty Dillon was gutted by the news but never dropped his head, and a year later he has the dog on the verge of an unlikely comeback coinciding with Dillon’s own re-emergence as a trainer.

“I’ve been wanting to get more heavily involved for a while now, I’ve got a few more dogs in and stretched the kennels to six which I think is a good number to work forward with,” Dillon said.

“Easy Al has probably been my most active dog but my partner Tracey Parker has brought a couple of dogs down from Bundaberg, we’ve got a couple of 20-month old pups who should be starting soon and I’ve got No Easy Beat back in work - he’s had a couple of really promising trials at Capalaba.”

There was a long time when Dillon thought trials at Capalaba wouldn’t have happened, but patience and small steps have gradually got him to this point.

“At the time when I learnt he’d dropped both back muscles I never thought I’d get him back to the track, but it’s been 12 months now and he was starting to look alright running around out the back so we decided to give him a few hit outs,” he said.

“We took him to the straight track at the Glasshouse Mountains and he was running in a nice straight line and most importantly he pulled up well each time we took him there.

“I’m at the point now where I think we probably can get him back but we’ve got to tread very lightly after such a severe injury; we’ll be taking things nice and slow, I’m rapt for the dog to give him another chance - I’m just trying to not get too excited.”

No Easy Beat

It wasn’t a case of putting him out in the paddock and hoping for the best, plenty of hard work went into his rehab and there’s no firm date on his return given his day-to-day status.

“The biggest thing with his recovery was time, he didn’t do much at all for months but as he gradually came along, we started with just short runs up the straight followed by rest and incrementally built him up,” Dillon said.

“He hadn’t been behind a lure for almost 12 months and we didn’t want to put him on the circle first up, so a couple of trials at Capalaba was the next step and he’s been holding together well so far.

“There’s plenty of hard work put in, but in the end it’s all about the dog; we won’t race him if he’s pulling up sore and not wanting to go but at this stage everything looks okay for a start in around a month.”

Dillon has been a popular figure in greyhounds since he burst on the scene with champion stayer Big Red, and is the type of bloke who always looks on the bright side in a tough sport.

Race-7-No-Easy-Beat-DSC-4488-JPG.JPG“Being involved with racing is just good fun, especially when they go out and try hard for you - that bond between a trainer and his dog is pretty strong,” he said.

“Every time I’ve stepped away from racing in the past, I’ve never been able to stay away because it puts a smile on your face.

“It can be a hard sport with plenty of ups and downs, it was a tough night when No Easy Beat pulled up lame, but there’s no point dwelling on the past - you’ve just got to be optimistic about what’s next.”

Dillons’s partner Tracey Parker has been instrumental in the trainer’s resurgence, sharing the same vest for greyhounds.

“It’s been really enjoyable sharing that feeling with someone else, my partner Tracey is just as passionate as me and two sets of hands is definitely better than one,” Dillon said.

“I still work full-time as a painter and get up in the morning and head off to work knowing that Tracey will be at home to take care of the dogs and whatever they need.

“She went for her license the other day, so hopefully we get all that ticked off and she can be even more hands on - it’ll be great.”