Brilliant Bernardo's Bendigo Goal

Bernardo will be looking to take out his first Group race when he lines up in Friday’s $67,000 Bendigo Cup (425m).

George Farrugia

6 July 2018

AFTER a narrow second behind boom pup My Redeemer in May’s Group 1 Harrison-Dawson, the brilliant Bernardo will be looking to take out his first Group race when he lines up in Friday’s $67,000 Bendigo Cup (425m).

The son of KC And All and Surfonic returned from a three-week break to defeat a crack group of chasers in Sunday’s third semi-final, leading all the way to score in a fast 23.75, setting up a clash with some of the fastest chasers in the land.

Trainer Bill McMahon said the greyhound’s win was even more impressive considering his lead up and unfamiliarity with Lord’s Raceway.

“We were really happy with the win considering it was his first look at Bendigo and I think it highlights what a great chaser he is. He had about three weeks off before the Bendigo Cup heats because he had split the sheath of his back muscle so we were cautious with him. He hadn’t done a great deal of work before his heat so his run was brilliant.”

McMahon would be understandably joyous if his greyhound was to win Friday’s black-type event, but a period of injury-free racing for his brilliant chaser would bring an even bigger smile to his face.

“From a young age we knew we had something special. He broke in running times that were quicker than some of our better race dogs, but you can never get too excited in this game,” said McMahon.

“People said to us that we’ve got a stud dog on our hands after (as a 22-month-old pup) he ran 29.40 at Sandown on the same night Bewildering ran 29.34. But then injury struck.

“We set him for the Great Chase series and that’s when he hurt his Achilles. We got it right and went into the Silver Chief series and he ended up hurting the other Achilles. It took us about five months to get him back to the track. In his first trial back he ran 22.30 at Warragul – dogs just don’t do that.

“I wanted to make sure he was 100 per cent fit because he’s a dog that chases that hard and has such high speed, that if he is not right he could really injure himself, to the point where he doesn’t return.”

Despite being cruelled by injuries, the black flash still boasts the imposing record of 10 wins from just 19 starts, including a recent 25.45 win at Warragul and 29.38 victory at Sandown.

McMahon said the fact Bernardo hadn’t had the ideal preparation going in to Sunday’s heats should mean further improvement on Friday, despite drawing box five.

“I’m confident he can get across even though he has drawn the yellow. The issue with him is that he sometimes wants to crash in like he did in a race at Sale recently. It is a race that is jam-packed full of talent and any of the eight dogs could win. The beauty is that I have no doubt that Bernardo will improve from his heat run and if he can lead I don’t think they can run him down.”

McMahon also filled us in on Bernardo’s potential as a stud dog, if and when the opportunity was to present itself.

“We have drawn some semen out of the dog because we think he would make the grade as a stud dog. KC And All has three runners out of different dams in the final this Friday night, and he comes from a litter of 10 where about six of them can run 29.50 or better at Sandown. His dam Surfonic was a very fast bitch. She ran 29.32 on the old Traralgon track when winning the Floodfawn Classic and won in fast time at Warragul and Sandown, and she has the pedigree to match.”

Bernardo is $8 to take out the Group 2 Bendigo Cup. Fastest heat winner Big Flood (box seven) and recent Warrnambool Cup heroine Striker Light (box eight) have been marked as $3 equal favourites.