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Hassall handles multiple roles at blossoming Bundaberg

Race-4-Elegant-Eleanor-344.JPGBy Isaac Murphy

Hervey Bay trainer Ricky Hassall had already made a name for himself as one of the premier trainers in the region before he made the decision to retire from the Fire Service.

Now that he’s a full-time trainer, Hassall’s ‘quality over quantity’ kennel is poised to take the next step, headed by veteran Elegant Eleanor and emerging Prince Cosmic who will take their places in the Oaks and Derby finals respectively this Monday.

Elegant Eleanor was the bitch who put Hassall on the map, and with 17 wins from 28 starts, she was poised for stardom before being cut down by injury.

Hassall thought he’d never get her back to the track but she defied the odds and is hoping for a fairy tale finish on Monday.

“The Oaks final could be Elegant Eleanor’s swansong, I’m not sure I’ll race her much longer,” Hassall said.

“Her times have been down on what she could do pre-injury and I’m hoping to have her as a brood bitch so I don’t want to push her too far when she’s already done so much for me.

“To get her back from what I thought was a career ending injury and win three races is above what I could have imagined - having a shot at the Oaks is pretty exciting.

“Monday’s final is going to be tough, she’s up against some serious bitches but she wasn’t far off in her heat doing it the hard way from box seven, so if she can draw a bit better and get on the arm third up over the 550 then she might just find something a little bit extra on her home track.”

Elegant Eleanor
Prince Cosmic

Hassall is represented in the Derby by Prince Cosmic, a dog he bought from Selena Zammit as a two-year-old, and has been flying since coming to Bundaberg.

“He races outstanding at Bundaberg, he’s learnt a lot in a short space of time and it was very pleasing to see him win his heat - he’ll go into the final as fresh as a daisy ready to go again,” Hassall said.

“I’ll probably look at racing him through the Bundaberg Cup series later this month but after that I’m keen to step him up to the 600 and possibly 700 eventually - his dam Befitting has the staying bloodlines.

“I loved the way he finished off on Monday, he did his best work late and went further in front into the catching pen so his best racing is in front of him.”

Hassall is not only bullish about the dog’s Derby hopes but thinks he’ll represent the locals well in the upcoming Bundaberg Cup.

“The Derby is essentially a prelude for the Bundaberg Cup heats where he’ll see most of the dogs he races in next week’s final, and we’re really looking forward to seeing some quality dogs come up from Brisbane for the Cup - it’ll be excellent for the club,” Hassall said.

“It’s always a good battle between the locals and the visitors, we saw that in Townsville and we’d love to see a local dog get up but in saying that we owe a lot to Brisbane trainers like Peter O’Reilly who’s now a club member here and brings a big team up every Monday and allows us to have full 10 race fields.

“Hopefully a few more trainers who are seeing the place for the first time see what we have going on up here and come back a bit more often after the Cup series.”

Races

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Bundaberg | Bundaberg Greyhound Racing Club | 1:49 PM

Bundaberg Derby H

Hassall has another Bundaberg Cup contender in the shape of Nerve Settler, with the former Victorian winning in open company at Bundaberg, as well as at Albion Park and Ipswich.

“Nerve Settler just had a slight back leg issue I probably could have raced her in the Oaks but just took every precaution to get her right for the cup,” Hassall said.

“She’ll race over the 550 metres next Monday and then go straight into the heats where I think she can go well.

“There’s not much between her and Prince Cosmic, they both are really strong late if a few are getting tired so with the extra 30 metres they’ll be there to pounce.”

Hassall said he’d always wanted to chase his passion as a full-time greyhound trainer and couldn’t be happier doing something he loves.

“I’ve always wanted to get to a point where I could become a full-time trainer, I’d almost made the decision a couple of times but decided now was the right time with the team I have going around and I’m really enjoying it,” he said.

“I think the biggest positive is the time I get around my dogs now; if they’re not working, they’re sitting on the veranda with me most of the day and I like them to develop their own personalities.

“I’ve got everything established at home with my straight track and got the property in top shape for the dogs with seven in work at the moment, which is what I’ll be looking to stay around - I’m looking forward to the future.”

With the President role recently vacated at Bundaberg, Hassall put his hand up to help the club and was voted in by his peers as the best man for the job, and he couldn’t be more thankful for all the hard work of those before him.

“I’m acting President at the Bundaberg Club at the moment and would be more than happy to stay on full-time if the club wants me to,” Hassall said.

“I’ve walked into a club that’s already functioning really well, we’re looking for a new secretary but everything else is going gangbusters.

“The racing is great, the turnover is up it’s very exciting seeing club go from strength to strength.

“The club has always been good to me and I’m just happy that I can be involved and hopefully build on the great job management has already done, when we were non-TAB we did it really tough and credit to the people who got us through those times.”