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.”