WHEN veteran Cootamundra trainer Terry O’Keefe spoke to The Recorder last July in the wake of the NSW Government’s proposed greyhound racing ban, he was devastated at the prospect his then five-month-old Spring Gun – Osti’s Grace litter would never see the racetrack.
“These pups will be hitting their straps and breaking-in when Mr. Baird is shutting the place down,” a downcast O’Keefe said at the time.
“We expected big things from the Spring Guns. I think Spring Gun will click pretty well with Osti’s Grace, so it’s a crying shame.”
Fortunately, sanity prevailed, and O’Keefe’s high hopes are now being realised, with the homebred February ’16 litter continuing the promising starts to their careers at Wagga and Young last weekend.
Christmas came early for O’Keefe, as the sprightly 79-year-old conditioner, who had knee replacement surgery just six weeks ago, enjoyed a perfect weekend at his two local tracks, incredibly winning five races with five starters from the litter.
“It wasn’t a bad weekend!” O’Keefe laughed.
“I didn’t think these pups would ever get to the track. But luckily Mr. Baird changed his mind and here we are. Thelma (wife) and I are very happy with the way they’re going. Over the last month they’ve improved out of sight.”
At Wagga last Friday night, O’Keefe prepared a 320m treble, courtesy of Joe’s Desire, which opened his account at his second start, Tom’s Desire, which claimed his second win from four starts, and Al’s Desire, which improved his record to three from six.
Then at Young on Saturday, O’Keefe struck again, this time preparing a double over 347m, with Smart Desire securing his second win at start six and Mary’s Desire, the only bitch in the litter, notching up her second victory from seven appearances.
The previous Saturday, O’Keefe ventured to Temora with three members of the litter and snared a double, via Mary’s Desire and Al’s Desire, giving him an impressive seven winner haul from his last eight starters.
“It’s been a while since I’ve got a treble, but I really thought all three could win at Wagga,” O’Keefe said.
“The two at Young both started odds-on and we thought they would both win too. It’s easy to say that, but you’ve got to do it.
“We’ve got six dogs and one bitch from the litter. The other two dogs haven’t raced yet because we’ve just finished breaking them in.
“There’s not much at all between the five that have raced. It’s pretty hard to pick the best. There’s some big dogs too – 35 and 36 kilos. They’ll definitely run the 500m; we’re pretty impressed with the way they’re finishing their races off.
“I’ve just had a knee replacement, but we’ll start moving them around a bit more now. We’ll take them to Goulburn and Canberra and if they keep improving, hopefully we can take them up to Sydney.
“The Spring Guns are Osti’s Grace’s second litter. Her first litter, to Smooth Fancy, was very disappointing. Osti’s Grace won 30 races, but she took a long time to come on season. She didn’t have her first litter until she was seven and she was close to nine when she had the Spring Gun litter, so it’ll be her last litter.
“We’re taking Al’s Desire, Joe’s Desire and Tom’s Desire back to Wagga on Friday, but it won’t worry me at all if they don’t win, because we got our Christmas money last weekend!”