By Isaac Murphy
Respected Sunshine Coast trainer and breeder Robert Ayres has carved out a reputation as a man with a sharp eye over decades in the greyhound industry. Even in retirement he has found a gem in Boscono who will be tested over the 710 metres for the first time at The Creek this Thursday night.
The race will be the bitches eighth start in Queensland and Ayres has taken a leap of faith putting her over the staying trip after just one middle-distance win but believes she couldn’t be in better shape for the race.
“She’s passed every test so far. Her last six hundred, she just kept running through the line,” Ayres said.
“I’m under no illusion stepping a two-year-old up to the 710 for the first-time is going to be easy, but I just pay attention to her and If I can get her there fit and in a good mindset, she’s on the right track for a big run.”
Despite retiring from full-time training Ayres continues to breed and train out of his boutique kennels at Wulmurra a long way from where he scouted Boscono.
“Since retiring I just had the two in work Steamy Night and Warm Feeling. The former is going great guns and won a Fifth Grade Final at Albion Park on Monday night, but unfortunately Warm Feeling had a few issues and we had to move her on,” he said.
“We didn’t want Steamy Night all alone in the kennels, so I rang a mate of mine Kevin Burns who is a breeder down in Victoria and he had a mate called Ian Dann who was training down there and had a bitch he was willing to sell, which turned out to be Boscono.”
Ayres was set on getting a stayer yet Boscono had done all of her racing over the short course, but with Burns help he saw potential in the pup.
“Before I had her she’d had eight or nine starts mostly in the placings with just one win over the shorter courses. She had potential, so I kept an eye on her,” Ayres said.
“Kevin (Burns) gave me the nod of approval he thought she would cover some ground down the track, so I bought her for $8,000 on the 25th of June and that was that.”
“In the end she ticked all the boxes and when her racing career is up, she’ll always have a home up here, I’ve always been a breeder and see some real potential in her.”
It’s taken a remarkable training performance from Ayres to transform her into the race bitch she is today and credits family, friends and facilities as key to her sharp improvement.
“I got her up here and gave her a run around the 520 at Albion where she knocked up late, but it was a good learning curve for us both. I could see the bitch wanted space and from there my goal has always been to get her up over the staying trips,” he said.
“She’s come a long way in a couple of months. I’m very lucky that my entire family especially my daughter, have given her plenty of love and care, and my good mate Rusty Dillon did a great job with her when I went on holidays for a couple of weeks. She’s got a great support network around her.”
“Being retired myself with only two in work I’ve got plenty of time to put in to them, I often take them down to the Glasshouse Mountains straight track which we pay $300 a year to use and the benefit they get out of those runs is invaluable when I bring them to the city.”
Boscono jumps from the red Thursday night and tackles several classy customers in Middle Distance Challenger Winner Uno Fabio for Frank Hancock, and classy six hundred metre winner Kendall for Gary Palmer. Ayres confident she will stack up.
“It’ll be a real litmus test, but if she passes, I’m not placing any limits on her and will not hesitate to have a crack at the Sydney Cup. She’s given us every indication she’s up to it and if you don’t have a go at those bigger races you never know,” he said.
“If she makes it to the Sydney Cup, she’ll be two years and five months and even if she isn’t up to the class now, we can come back later in her career.”
“I think she can make it as a Group level stayer on what I’ve seen, but even if she doesn’t, she’ll win plenty of races around South-East Queensland and hopefully produce some nice progeny for us to enjoy.”
Ayres is living the good life in semi-retirement at his Sunshine Coast property and the proud Queenslander said it was fantastic to see the greyhound industry thriving.
“I’d love to be representing Queensland with her around the country. She might have hailed from Victoria, but she’s a Queensland dog now and along with Jeff Crawford’s Radar Gunn I think they can make some noise on the staying circuit,” he said.
“In my opinion there’s no better time to be racing greyhounds in Queensland, with the prize money incentives and support we get from the clubs and governing bodies we’re lucky to be in this state.”