By Isaac Murphy
You only need watch Smooth Act’s barnstorming run to reach this Thursday night’s Publicans Cup Final to know the dog has ability. Trainer Robert Cooke said the two-and-a-half-year-old has only started to scratch the surface of his capabilities.
Near enough last at the winning post first time around Smooth Act exploded down the back to come within a length of heat winner Blue Diva who went 29.99. Cooke knows you can’t rely on runs like that every week and is working hard to get the chaser’s act together at The Creek.
“Since we started concentrating on the 520 at Albion his manners have gone out the window,” Cooke said.
“He’d been jumping well. Now he’s starting out the back and hitting flat spots in the run. I’m looking forward to the penny dropping.”
“As frustrating as it’s been, he’s still only had a handful of starts up there and at two and a half it’s a matter of time until he gets it right.”
There is class everywhere you look in the final. Heat winners Shakey Diesel and Dynamite Lucy are racing in great form and Rusty Dillon’s No Easy Beat clocked a 29.77 run, but Cooke believes at his best the race isn’t beyond him.
“It’s a hell of a field for a Fifth-Grade final, but I’m not ruling him out by a long shot,” He said.
“He jumps from the four again this week. With a little bit of speed around him, I hope he almost misses it a length again, drops to the fence and storms home.”
“I’ve bred a few litters out of the sire Smooth Fancy and they’re all mighty strong and he’s no exception. He’ll be hitting the line.”
Talent wise Cooke puts Smooth Act at the top of the pile, but concedes races aren’t won on ability and is looking for some much-needed race sense.”
“His talent is through the roof. If you put them all around in solo trials, he’d win the race by a couple of tenths, but that’s not racing and he’s got to get it right mentally to mix it,” Cooke said.
“If he can come through a race like the Publicans Cup, that’s when you can start looking at your Group and feature prospects, but he’s not quite there yet.”
Early speed has been an ongoing problem for the sprinter, until Cooke brought Smooth Act to the straight at Capalaba where the dog flourished under unique conditions.
“I first brought him up to Capalaba to sort his box manners out a bit. He’d been playing up in the boxes and with the drag lure and no noise at Capalaba I thought it might do him some good,” Cooke said.
“It worked out brilliantly. It really turned him around, to the point I was keeping him there because he was winning in open company.”
“I’m cursing New South Wales for not having a straight track, because he would have been a real shot at the Nationals a couple of weeks ago at Healesville.”
Cooke is not into the business of buying and selling greyhounds but takes great pride in being self- sufficient breeding and owning his own greyhounds.
“Nearly everything we’ve got, we do ourselves. We try to breed at least one litter a year, keep them for ourselves and hope for a bit of success,” Cooke said.
“It gets you excited and nervous at the same time when you get one like him. You want to keep him sound, but maximise his ability as well.”
Based in Woodview, Northern New South Wales, Cooke doesn’t hesitate to take on the two- and half-hour drive to Albion Park. A venue he’s hoping brings future success.
“I know his ability is through the roof and have no problem making the drive up from home (Woodview, NSW) to give him a run at Albion Park. It’s the track that we hope he’ll be running in some big races down the road,” he said.
“Getting him running up to his potential at Albion Park is a box we need to tick, but we’ve got the heats of the Million Dollar Chase down at Lismore next week, which I thought was worth a crack.”
“I’ve got Cash Point in the heats at Casino this Friday, which is a four-minute drive from my place. Both dogs have been around their respective venues a few times so I’m hopeful of a result.”