A little over a week ago, Bargo trainer Adele Powell nominated My Friend Mitch for a 720 metre race at the Friday night meeting at Wentworth Park. Sometimes fate acts in mysterious ways, and due to rollover nominations Powell found her 32 kilogram black dog in a heat of the Group 3 Summer Cup on Saturday night. This week My Friend Mitch will race in the $25,000 to the winner final.
“I was actually hoping to be in a fifth grade on the Friday night, but with the roll over noms I ended up in the Summer Cup. But at least we’re in the final now and we nearly had two there, his sister My Asuncion just missed out.”
But Powell is under no illusions as to how tough this race is, with the likes of Bell Haven, Lucy Wires and Dyna Willow leading the betting.
“I'm in there hoping for a lot of luck and I know he’ll go out there and try. He gives it his all and I can't ask for anymore than that. He's a really big dog with a big heart. He may not have inherited his Mum’s ability, but he has a go. He's had twenty six starts at Wenty and just can't win a race, but he trials so good. He trials around 42.50, but I was happy with his 42.70 in the heat, that was his best time in a race and he stuck on better too.”
What makes the feat more remarkable is the fact that Powell is the only trainer in the race who bred the dog she is racing. My Friend Mitch is by Bit Chili out of another bitch that Powell bred, the Group 1 winner, Just Friends. So Powell is no stranger to group staying events.
“This is Just Friends’ best litter so far, she had some to Bombastic Shiraz and they were ok but had a lot of injuries. She's only had the two litters so far, but these are the best. I will probably breed with her again but we haven't bred any litters for twelve months. These are our cricketing breed. My Friend Mitch is named after Mitchell Johnson. My Asuncion’s kennel name is Hussey, and we had another one from the litter with a long nose we used to call Ricky Pointing.”
On closer inspection, Powell has bred a regal line of prolific producers in a relatively short time that simply cannot be understated. The origins of this line reveal a great little story of a miscreant bitch who became a prolific producer.
“It all goes back to a bitch called Pumpkin that I got from Les Castle. She was playing up at Moss Vale one day, she was a naughty dog. Les said to me that if she didn’t win that day that he would drop her off at our place. She fell on the first turn and true to his word, Les dropped her off. Les said she's not marked for me to breed with, but if you are thinking about it then I'd strongly recommend that you do. So I bred with her and if you look at that line it's been great. It goes to He Knows Uno, the whole bit.”
Pumpkin was certainly no champion on the track, but has been a sensation as a producer of such quality race and brood bitches like Outrageous Alice and Outrageous Angel.
“I did race her (Pumpkin) and she won a race at Nowra. She wasn't blessed with much potential but did produce Outrageous Angel, who is a multi group winner, and Outrageous Alice. They are great producers and it just goes on and on. But I have to thank Les Castle and his family for all of that. She was a lovely old dog and it broke my heart when she passed away. She sits on my desk actually, I loved her that much that I had her cremated and she sits here with me.”
Pumpkin’s legacy will be on display earlier in the week when another descendant, Exhibitionist, lines up as favourite in the Group 2 Dapto Puppy Classic. Exhibitionist’s grand dam (Outrageous Claim) is a half sister to the dam of My Friend Mitch (Just Friends). Powell summed it all up with one simple sentence.
“It's going to be a big week.”
Powell and her partner Peter Acers would love nothing more to see Exhibitionist salute in the big one, despite having sold her for a song.
“We were going to buy Exhibitionist back because we wanted one in the Dapto Auction race; she went for about $1700. I said at the time that the guy bidding wants her, but my feeling at the time was that once they hit $1500 they're gone. I did like her, but I said to Peter just let her go. Now there are 75,000 reasons that I don't know why I did it! But good on her, I hope she bolts in and someone else might buy one. I've just been down the back to see how Naughty Nicki is and there she is there passed out in the sun, she has no idea what she's done.”
Powell has achieved her success without having a big team or hundreds of dogs at her disposal.
“I have six in work. I've got a couple of the Naughty Nicki’s and Peter has Lacey Lois and Abbreviate. They've all done well. They've only had a few starts, but it's a great litter.”
Powell and Acers haven't always limited their love of racing to greyhounds either and have dappled in all three codes.
“We actually had a racehorse called Gasquet and he was a good horse. John Size had him and he won six from fourteen, but unfortunately he bled. We've had a trotter too with Lance Justice who won a few for us and was sold to W.A and is still racing.”
Come Saturday Powell knows that the odds are stacked against My Friend Mitch.
“I'll need a lot of luck, even if Bell Haven and Lucy Wires get into trouble, we’d have to catch the one (Infinite Wish) or the eight (Dyna Willow). The interstate dogs have just got it all over the Sydney dogs, they're just panels ahead. I guess it highlights the calibre of Just Friends, she won her group races in Victoria and was an exceptional bitch. She beat Miagi to win her group one, but she finished behind him plenty of times. I know how the people with Hay List felt having Black Caviar around.”
Adele Powell summed up Saturday night’s big final in the most succinct and circumspect style that encapsulates the spirit of racing.
“We are in the final, which we didn't really expect, so anything from here is a bonus. We will just make sure we have a good time on the night and enjoy the moment.”