This Saturday is the night that all greyhound racing participants have been waiting for as the top echelon of Australian chasers converge at Wentworth Park for what is New South Wales’ premier night of racing, offering the all glitz and glam of group race glory.
Whilst the highlight of the night will of course be the $250,000 to the winner Group One Golden Easter Egg, there will also be several other spectacular Group Race finals run and won on the night - one of those being the Group Three Magic Maiden.
The 2013 Magic Maiden series has seen some of Australia’s best bred and freakishly fast young pups make their racing debut over the last three weeks and the final certainly looks mouth-watering, with one of the main chances being Hunter Valley chaser Chevy Silverado.
Chevy Silverado could not have been any more impressive in claiming his semi-final in a best of night time last Friday. Beginning brilliantly from box seven, the white and blue brindle powerhouse carved across the field and never looked in any danger, clocking a scintillating 29.69 seconds for the 520 metre trip. The son of Just the Best is owned and trained by Michael Manuel and certainly looks to have untapped potential, with his barnstorming success coming at only his second race appearance.
Michael, and his wife Jodie, train from their property in North Rothbury, a small town in the Hunter Valley among the wineries. Chevy Silverado is certainly a special member of the Manuel kennel, being out their former top race bitch Chevy Miss.
Chevy Miss was a sensational racer winning fifteen races with a further eleven placing’s to her name. Among her credentials was a flying 34.85 second track record at Unibet Gardens over the 600 metre trip and a nippy personal best of 30.26 seconds at Wentworth Park. Chevy Miss was also a finalist in the Dapto Puppy Classic, and the 600 metre Rookie Rebel held at The Meadows, and whilst she was luckless in both group finals, she still had her share of race triumphs and has since made even more of an impression with her career in the breeding barn also being a successful one.
Chevy Miss has thrown some handy pups from her litters by Where’s Pedro and Big Daddy Cool, however it has been her third litter to Just The Best that have well and truly hit the track in full flight. The headliner of this litter is undoubtedly Chevy Silverado, however litter brother Chevy Spark also has the potential and ability to turn into a fantastic little money spinner for the dedicated duo.
With Michael and Jodie’s outstanding success with Chevy Miss and her progeny, it is scary to think that all this almost never happened. Chevy Miss, or "Miracle" as she is known to the Manuel’s; was purchased from astute mentor John Lawson. Lawson who whelped the litter, found the pint sized bitch, when she was only a few days old, cold as ice inside the whelping box. Whilst many may have assumed the tiny pup had died Lawson heard a whimper and managed to save the pup from a grim demise.
When the litter was being sold, the Manuel’s purchased a white and red brindle dog, who would later race under the name Chevy Man. However on the way home, Jodie recalls they had a change of heart, and went back to make a second purchase, “When we got back there Johnny thought we had changed our minds and didn't want "Butch" (Chevy Man) but we said yes we want him, but we want "Miracle" (Chevy Miss) as well”.
This change of heart purchase would turn out to be one of the best decisions the Manuel’s made in their involvement in greyhound racing, with Chevy Silverado exiting box eight in the $25,000 to the winner final on Saturday night. Whilst he appears to be a mad railer, the promising pup proved he can handle the outside draw last week, and should he step away cleanly, he looks a live chance of taking home the winners cheque.
Chevy Silverado’s biggest threats look to be Jason Mackay’s unbeaten charge Zipping Simba, who ran a fast 29.92 in his semi-final last week; Mark Azzopardi’s Vinny Kreuger; and the Chris Artelo’s trained Black Rip. All three were semi winners last week and will be looking to snare victory. However with a few slow beginners on his inside, the race may well be set up for Chevy Silverado, who has been a flawless beginner at his first two outings.
What makes the Manuel’s so special is the patience and perseverance they have shown with their team and the unconditional love they share for both their greyhounds and the industry. Win, lose or draw on Saturday night, Michael and Jodie have accomplished something that many small trainers can only dream of.
After racing the mother and whelping, rearing, breaking-in and training the litter all by themselves, it would certainly be the icing on the cake and the pinnacle of their training career’s if Chevy Silverado can achieve the feat and take home the prize.