Sir Duke Set For Emotional Maiden Tilt

RAY Webster knows the caliber of greyhound it takes to win the Graham Gibbons Memorial Maiden (472m) at Bulli, and whilst he firmly believes he has it with decisive heat winner Sir Duke, an ‘upside down’ box draw

Adam Dobbin

12 March 2019

RAY Webster knows the caliber of greyhound it takes to win the Graham Gibbons Memorial Maiden (472m) at Bulli, and while he firmly believes he has it with decisive heat winner Sir Duke, an ‘upside down’ box draw for this weekend’s final has dampened the Cawdor trainers hopes.

In 2017, Webster unearthed highly touted youngster Lagoon Rhett in the maiden series, the son of Cosmic Rumble winning his heat in an electrifying 25.99 before going on to land the final in commanding fashion, running 25.96, becoming the first maiden to break 26 seconds for the Bulli 472 metres.

Watch Lagoon Rhett’s sizzling 2017 Graham Gibbons Maiden victory

“I would have been really confident he’d (Sir Duke) run a big race had he drawn box one as he does want to get to the fence, it’s going to be hard from out there in eight,” declared Webster.

“I picked out this race for him about six weeks ago. He’d never been to Goulburn when I performance trialed him last month and I was upset when he went 25.21, I thought there goes our price!

“He’s a dog that’s improving with every run, he’s only had a few trials and I expect him to improve even more on Saturday, but being realistic from out there in box eight he’ll probably need to jump a length in front to be in with a chance.

“As you know, a lot of these big finals are decided just as much on boxes and luck in running as they are ability.”

A superbly bred son of Kinloch Brae and Flash Earner, Sir Duke was an impressive 26.51 debut heat winner at the weekend, while his brother Charlow made it two from three for Webster at Goulburn on Tuesday, running a slick 25.15 for the 440m.

The backstory as to how the pair was left for Webster to train is a rather somber one.

“Allan Bonham, who was part of the furniture here for about eight years, owned these two pups and put them through the Richmond Auction before buying them back,” reflected Webster.

“Allan would be here two times a day helping us around the kennels and we’d give Allan a pup from each of our litters to say thank you.

“Sadly Allan was diagnosed with cancer last year and passed away in December. It all happened very sudden and that’s how the two dogs came to be here. After Allan passed we didn’t do a lot with the pups until just recently, they’re still only young. There’s a lot of improvement in them still.”

Setting the time-standard for Saturday night’s $8,000 to-the-winner final is the Mark Gatt-trained Ritza Vonnie, the daughter of Sh Avatar and Jingjing simply brilliant running away late from a tear-away leader La Grand Quality in a slick 26.31.

The third of the heats was taken out by the Mark Bell-trained Prince Planet in a fast 26.37, the son of his former champion sprinter Go Wild Teddy defeating Rivalries by a half-length, giving Gatt two runners in Saturday’s final.

“Box eight makes it hard and the way the draw has panned out Mark’s bitch (Ritza Vonnie) looks like she’ll get the saloon passage from box two as the red (La Grand Quality) used a lot of the track last week. I either want to be out in front or sitting second behind the red, I don’t want to be stuck outside him.”

Webster also reports the first litter by his Group 1 Golden Easter Egg runner-up Lagoon Jazzy to Cosmic Rumble has just returned from the breakers with good reports.

“There was just the three in the litter, Peter Sims broke them in and was very happy with them,” explained Webster.

“Jazzy has a second litter to Fernando Bale, there are four of them and I’ll probably put them through the new Gold Muzzle Auction. She’s due to come on again soon and I’m thinking either Sh Avatar or Fabregas for her.

“I loaned Lagoon Prissy – a sister to Lagoon Rhett – to Michael Phillips and she’s got a litter to Barcia Bale so I’ve got a couple of pups there as well.”