RSN greyhound race caller James Van de Maat finds himself in a rare position on Sunday as he will call a feature race in which he has a greyhound he trains himself.
That greyhound is Cat Zingano, who has had six starts for two wins and three placings.
And she isn’t contesting just an ordinary race either, it is the prestigious Healesville Oaks (350m), one of two $10,000 features that Victoria’s only TAB straight greyhound track is hosting on Sunday, the other being the Healesville Derby (350m).
James’ partner Chloe Allan will take care of handling honours while James calls the 12 race card from behind the binoculars.
“As a caller I have to treat it like any other race, as much as I would like to yell a bit louder I know it doesn’t change the result,” Van de Maat laughed.
“Chloe has only handled in a few races so this will be a big event for her as well.”
This isn’t the first time Van de Maat has had to call one of his greyhounds in the six months he has held his trainers licence; last week in the heats of the Healesville Oaks he called Cat Zingano into second place.
“I have had to call a couple of dogs I own in heats of group 1 races, but as a trainer this would be one of my biggest races,” Van de Maat explained.
James and Chloe helped Evie’s Entity welcomed a litter of Turanza Bale puppies into the world on Wednesday night – the same sire that produced Cat Zingano, who is set to jump from box 5 in the Healesville Oaks.
“I rate her in the Oaks, she is drawn well in the centre of the track. As long as she gets a clear run in the first 100 metres she is in with a good chance because she is as quick as any other dog in the race. Plus she has the home track advantage!”
“I am a little bit nervous, but I am more excited! I have always wanted to win the West Australian Oaks, but by winning my local Oaks I am on my way.”
A Healesville local, Van de Maat and partner Chloe have a 13-acre property which they are slowly but surely turning into a state-of-the-art greyhound training facility for their four race dogs.
If Cat Zingano can win the Healesville Oaks, it will edge them that little bit closer to helping them fulfill that goal.