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By Isaac Murphy
Thursday night’s Listed Rising Star Heats at headquarters are stacked with talent, and it would be easy to overlook a dog like Hara’s Olaf for hobby trainer Noel Russell.
The chaser is coming off a Fifth Grade Monday night win and has never tasted Thursday success, but looking a little closer at his most recent performance on top of his red-hot blood lines, and you’ve got a rising star.
“I was over the moon to see him stay out of trouble early and get on the bunny last week, he’s that strong home nothing was going to chase him down and to run 29.83 was clearly a career best performance,” Russell said.
“If you go back and look at his last five runs, where he finished might not look too great but the way he keeps trying and attacks the line is the dog’s greatest quality.
“His weakness if obviously his first section, his first few steps just aren’t quite up to it when there’s pressure around him, though I was rapt to see him go 5.59 last start - that’s about the quickest you’ll see out of him but he gives himself a chance if he can do it consistently.”
Russell acknowledges the jump in grade, but also gave his charge a good push; winning form is good form even he goes around at a nice price.
“Looking at his heat tomorrow night with a runner like Special Cyndie, he’ll be giving her two or three lengths to the first turn, but a bitch like her can probably make a little mistake where he’s going to have to be perfect,” Russell said.
“The only other dog who’s a last start winner is John Catton’s dog Little Byrnes who’s having his first start over the 520 metres and there are only a couple that have run the time we have, so I’m hoping that confidence and form can carry over.
“I think he’s a definite chance again, hopefully the bookies don’t think so like last week where he went around near enough 20-1, I had a little bit on him but usually like to chuck fifty dollars on my dogs.”
Albion Park | Brisbane Greyhound Racing Club | 7:43 PM
Russell has been a long-time hobby trainer and is more than grateful to have one in the kennel that has done what Hara’s Olaf has at Albion Park.
“I never race too many dogs at a time and have never had any superstars, so to have him break 30 seconds and then be involved in a series like this where I think he can go well has me pretty content already,” he said.
“He was very focused pre-race last week, he’s only two-and-a-half and still learning, I’m seeing more and more signs of maturity.
“He’s pulled up as well as I could have hoped from last week, there’s no excuses for him tomorrow night and if he could make it through to the final I’d be pinching myself, but if not then it’s back to the drawing board.”
Part of Russell’s optimism in due to the success of some notable littermates, and the trainer is hoping the best is yet to come.
“I’m really looking forward to the next six months, I look at Mike Stephenson and Hara’s Panda who is this dog’s brother, he got a couple of wins in succession and then has been at another level since,” Russell said.
“They’re very different dogs in the way they race; Hara’s Panda does his work early where we do ours late, but it’s a gun litter (Fernando Bale/Hara’s Annie) with Tony Brett having Hara’s Clyde too who has done some freakish things.
“I’m actually very blessed to have two of the litter with Hara’s Indi having won eight races and about $25,000 already, unfortunately just after her first 500-metre win she had to get a hip operation but she’s not far away either and is one to watch out for - she’s always had the wood over her brother.”