Hobby trainer Trevor Hagney only has one race dog in work but luckily that dog is one of the Central Coast’s most consistent chasers with a heart as big as his body. The black machine is affectionately called Rodney around Hagney’s kennels but on the racetrack he is known to punters and spectators alike as Johnny Fire- a 32 kilogram speedster who has accumulated quite an impressive record in his short racing career. This Saturday night Johnny Fire will be hoping to get Hagney one step closer to his biggest win in the industry when he lines up in heat three of the $75,000 Group One Peter Mosman at Wentworth Park.
Johnny Fire will exit box four this week and faces a tough task with track specialist Charmed Assassin drawn directly on his outside. The two young guns have gone head to head twice throughout their careers thus far with Johnny Fire triumphant on the first occasion whilst more recently Charmed Assassin prevailed in the Group Three New Sensation - a race where Johnny Fire ran third.
Whilst the draw is not ideal, Hagney remains optimistic of his chance. “He is a bit hit and miss at the beginning but if he can be up there on the inside of Charmed Assassin on the first turn he should get some room to move because Charmed Assassin sits a bit off the rails”, Hagney explained.
“They can both run around the same sectionals so if he is up with them and on the inside it should be a good race”.
“He is a really good speed dog but it’s just the first 10-15 metres that cost him. If he jumps with the field he usually wins”.
Johnny Fire comes into the race in a purple patch of form- if you can really say that about the ultra-consistent son of Knocka Norris and Gunna Oz who is a winner of 14 races with a further 10 minors from just 26 starts. Throughout his short career Johnny Fire has competed not only in the New Sensation series but also in the Group Two Maitland Gold Cup final where he ran a stellar second to the phenomenal boom pup Black Magic Opal.
At his most recent start at Wentworth Park last weekend, Johnny Fire put on yet another spectacular demonstration from the cherry, overcoming a moderate getaway to rail underneath early leader Vivian Bale on the first turn to claim the race in a scintillating 29.79 seconds.
“He always goes well out of box one”, said a delighted Hagney, “Once he finds the rails he stays there”.
“He is just such a good chaser, even when he is drawn in one of the squeeze boxes he will push his way through the field to find the front”.
Johnny Fire’s talent has been evident since he was a pup, with Hagney describing his tenacity even at a tender young age,
“I had a couple of country grade dogs when he was first getting going and even then we knew that he was just in another class and from the time he was broken in I knew he would chase through a brick wall”.
Hagney trains on a ten acre property situated at Lake Munmorah with fellow trainers Mark Moroney and Wayne Shelton who each have their own respective greyhounds. Hagney who is a full time electrician emphasises the team effort required in the functioning of their kennels.
“Between the three of us we have about 12-16 in the race kennels although we have about 40 dogs on the property”.
“It takes everyone to get in and get everything done. It is a team effort but it means every dog gets its chance and gets treated the same whether it is fast or slow”.
Hagney has been involved in the industry as an owner since the early 90’s yet has been training greyhounds for the past ten years attributing Moroney for getting him involved in the sport and teaching him many of the skills required to train a successful greyhound. Moroney’s influence is also evident in the names of the dogs themselves with many of Hagney’s greyhounds carrying the ‘fire’ tag
“Mark had a greyhound called Fire Cape who broke six track records and was a real good dog in the early 90’s and used to compete in match races. That’s how I first got involved through following him and since then I have kept the fire name for many of the dogs”.
Johnny Fire was purchased by Hagney sight unseen for a mere $1500 and thus far has gone on to win nearly $40,000 throughout his career.
“I had been following the breed for quite a while. The whole line is full of keen chasers and most are quick 400 metre dogs”.
“I rang up to buy a pup and said I wanted a black one- everyone wants the ones with the nice markings and the black one’s are always the one’s left”.
This purchase has given Hagney the most promising greyhound of his entire career, with the dynamic canine looking to have a very bright future.
“He is the best dog I have ever had. I have had fast dogs but they haven’t been as genuine. This dog can run great times but he also has the heart to go along with it”.
Whilst his motor is undeniable, Hagney acknowledges the current generation of young sprinters as nothing short of outstanding.
Regardless Johnny Fire is certainly comparable to many of Australia’s best greyhounds and a well-deserved group victory looks just around the corner for this brilliant powerhouse who Hagney also describes as a ‘friend’.
“There are not too many hobbies where you can work full time and have a race animal in your backyard; you could never do it with a horse or trotter and be in a group race but you can with greyhounds. I treat it as a hobby and the dogs really are man’s best friend; if you treat them like that you get the results”.
“He is good enough to win a group race but just to get in the final would be great. For the dog it’s another race but for me it would be an enormous thrill”.
No matter what happens in the Peter Mosman series, Hagney looks set to enjoy a nice run over the next couple of years with Johnny Fire and the next generation of chasers soon to be coming through his kennels and onto the racetrack. It is a great sight to see a hobby trainer in the industry for the love of the sport and foremost the dog enjoying a run of success and this is certainly the case for Trevor Hagney.