Victorian trainer Gerry Kleeven had his heart in his mouth when his superstar greyhound Luca Neveelk took a tumble in a heat of the Group 1 Golden Easter Egg (520m) at Wentworth Park on Saturday night.
It was Kleeven’s first trip interstate with a greyhound in 40 years in the sport, and while he didn’t get the result he hoped for – Luca Neveelk finished last – he was relieved that the Australian Cup winner was able to regain his footing and trail the field into the catching pen.
“I loaded him in the boxes and watched him miss the start a little bit which wasn’t great, but I then looked up at the TV and saw him fall and I immediately feared the worst because he skidded such a long way.”
“Then I saw him get up and chase the field around, and even though he was 20 lengths behind them the fact he got up showed how much this dog loves racing, and it also made me think he must be okay,” Kleeven said.
While Luca Neveelk (pictured above at his Denison home – courtesy BlueStream Pictures) appeared to have recovered well from the incident, Kleeven took him to a vet on Tuesday hoping for some reassurance.
“I have just got home from the vet who said he is 100 per cent fit,” he said. “I thought that was the case because he looks so well within himself, but I just wanted to make sure, and now I just have to work out where I’ll race him next.”
Kleeven will think twice before committing to his next trip interstate with Luca Neveelk, as he felt the long drive to Sydney unsettled his star.
“He’s normally a great traveller in the car, but the problem is he had never been on such a long trip before.”
“It’s about a 10 hour drive and we stopped every two hours on the way up to let him stretch his legs, but the problem was that every time we stopped he got all excited because he thought we were at the races, so by the time we got to Sydney he was spent.”
“I think that caused him to miss the start a little bit because normally he’s a great beginner and in hindsight I probably would have flown up,” he said.
It wouldn’t surprise to see Luca Neveelk – a winner of half a million dollars in prize money – line up in the Group 2 Warrnambool Cup (450m) in a month’s time as he is a proven performer on the country cups circuit.
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