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Kitchener dares to dream with Dervando in Bundaberg Derby

Race-11-Dervando-DSC-9893-JPG.JPGBy Isaac Murphy

It took until start 99 for David Kitchener’s Dervando to have his first run over the 520 metres in April this year.

Months down the track, the veteran now has five Thursday night wins to his name and his new lease of life has given the trainer opportunities to explore races like the Bundaberg Derby, where he’ll look to celebrate start 129 in style next Monday.

“I was really happy with his heat run, first time seeing the track from a wide draw and up over the 550 metres, it was always going to be a challenge and he stuck on really well,” Kitchener said.

“He only finished midfield but that’s all we wanted in the heats; he had a barker beside him in the boxes which didn’t help, hopefully we can get a bit of luck and draw inside for the final.

“If he can cross them and get down to the fence first, he’s going to take a lot of catching.

“He doesn’t like anything getting past him once he finds the front and even though there’s some strong dogs in that race they’ll have to be on their game.”

Kitchener is ecstatic just to be getting a start in the event, as a race over this distance simply wasn’t an option for Dervando six months ago.

“Since he’s been running the 500 metres it’s opened up so many avenues for him, a race like the Derby over 550 metres wouldn’t have even been on the radar but now he’s a winning chance in the final,” he said.

“We’ll press on to the Bundaberg Cup heats with him in a couple of weeks’ time, he’ll have that extra little advantage over a lot of other Brisbane dogs who’ll be seeing the track for the first time.

“Going forward it just gives us that many more options with him, rather than running at Albion Park every week.”

Races

5

Albion Park | Brisbane Greyhound Racing Club | 8:10 PM

GPP LASER 3300

Kitchener was second guessing his decision to test out the 500-metre distance with some slow early times, but to his and the dog’s credit they persevered and pulled off the transformation.

“When I first got him I never thought he’d run the 500 and when I decided to have a crack with him he ran 31.40 first go, 30.70 next start, then 30.50 and through racing in Masters grade he got a bit of confidence and just clicked,” he said.

“To see him then come out and win fourth grades and place in Best 8 fields was just above and beyond, a 128-start four-and-a-half-year-old competing with Brisbane’s best dogs.

“I was pretty nervous when he first started over the distance but the more he raced and pulled up well the less concerned I got, he’s the type of dog who might get chopped out one week but that doesn’t effect what he does the next week.”

Kitchener said he made some changes to the dog’s routine and work at home, but credited Dervando as the main reason for the success with the veteran showing no signs of slowing down.

“He’s always been a very healthy and fit dog, so I thought late in his career I’d give him a go over the 500; I didn’t change much, just a few little things at home and he’s absolutely thriving on it,” he said.

“We always knew he could probably lead them around the first turn and for most of the race but the final straight was going to be a problem.

“The more we raced him though he just kept finding a little bit more and broke their hearts a few times when he kicked off that home corner.

“He still probably feels the pinch the last 20 metres, but he knows where the line is and all credit to the dog, he’s four-and-a-half years old and racing in the best form of his life.”

Kitchener said as long as Dervando was sharp in mind and body, he’d keep racking up the starts.

“There aren’t many racing at his age let alone getting better at his age, when he’s not racing he’s still tearing everything up at home just wanting to get to the track - he’s a bit of a marvel,” he said.

“We won’t have a set date on when he wants to finish up - we’ll let him tell us, he’s a beautiful dog to have at home, he loves being around you so you can always get a good read on how he’s travelling.”

Dervando

The trainer owes a debt of gratitude to nephew and fellow trainer Barry Kitchener who first had the dog in Queensland before gifting him to his uncle for the perfect match.

“My Nephew bought him from Sydney after about 30 starts down there, he had 24 with Barry and one day at Ipswich he said ‘I think I’ve got the right dog for you, I think the way you train will suit this dog down to the ground’,” Kitchener said.

“I’m still working full-time, but my daughter Annabelle adores him, she’s down there every afternoon playing with him and keeping him company, he’s part of the family and has a home for life with us.

“It’s great having a dog that brings us all together, whether he wins or comes last Annabelle will make sure he gets the love he deserves.”

Still working full-time, Dervando’s races light up Kitchener’s week, and the trainer knows he’s been blessed with a good one.

“I’ve always had an association with the dogs through family but it’s probably only the last five years when I’ve really put more time into it,” Kitchener said.

“I’ve only got a small team and he’s just the perfect dog to have in the kennels, has a clean bill of health and is just a real professional - I couldn’t ask for much more in a dog.