When her fiancée Darren Haffenden was seriously ill with pancreatic cancer earlier this year Faith Martin made two promises.
Faith promised Darren their three-year-old son Joshua would know the kind of man his father was and also that she would give a talented young greyhound, which Darren had bred and reared, every opportunity to fulfil his potential on the racetrack.
Sadly Darren passed away in May at just 52 and didn’t get to see the dog race.
However Faith kept her promise and Darren’s confidence has been vindicated, with the aptly named Promises Kept winning six of his nine starts and looming as one of the major players in the Group 2 TAB Great Chase at The Meadows on Wednesday afternoon.
“Darren did all the rearing with the litter and he always knew that Promises Kept was a pretty special sort of dog. There was just something about him,” explained Faith, who races Promises Kept in partnership with her mother Annette.
“When Darren got sick I promised him that I would do everything I could to get the best out of Promises Kept and also that our son Joshua would know what kind of man Darren was, so that’s how Promises Kept got his name.
“It’s been a horrible year but I’m trying not to dwell on it too much and keep looking for the positives. We really love the greyhounds and we’ve been rapt with what Promises Kept has been able to do so far. Joe Borg has done a great job with him – he’s such a patient trainer – and he’s been a great friend as well.
“When Promises Kept won his semi-final of the Great Chase I thought it’s a damn shame that Darren isn’t here to share it but we’re so proud of the dog for making the final. A couple of months ago I would’ve found it very hard to talk about but now it’s nice to be able to share the story.”
Promises Kept comes from the most humble of origins – in fact, they don’t get any more humble – being the result of Darren Haffenden’s inspired gamble on a giveaway brood bitch called Little Miss Mary and a free service to Premier Boloney.
“It just goes to show that the breeding of a greyhound is a raffle when a free service to a giveaway brood bitch produces a dog like Promises Kept,” Joe Borg said.
“He’s a very nice dog and he’s coming along very nicely. He’s a very keen chaser with a real will to win.
“I deliberately took the harder route to the Great Chase by starting him in the heats at The Meadows because I believe to win this race you’ve got to have experience at The Meadows and he basically knows every grain of sand at the track now.
“There’s eight genuine chances but I’m quietly confident in the dog’s ability to win the race. I believe there’s more improvement in him and with the dog’s story it would be very emotional for everyone if he does win.
“I won my first Group race when Sheoak Ian won the Great Chase in 2009. Winning the race really put me on the map but it’s starting to get on a bit now so it would be very nice to win it again!”