Jimmy Newob is the name on everyones lips at the moment and rightly so.
He is the winner of eight races from 11 starts and he find himself in the $17,250 Hudson Pacific Final on Saturday night at The Meadows.
Jimmy Newob impressed onlookers last week in the heats with an all the way victory in his first start on the track and he clocked a best of the night time of 29.84sec from box five.WATCH: Jimmy Newob jump from box five to win his heat of the Hudson Pacific Final at The Meadows.
Trained by the Fullerton family, Jimmy Newob will jump from box eight but first he has to face the six hour journey to feature in the Hudson Pacific Final at The Meadows.
While greyhound racing spreads far and wide across Victoria, Mildura is one town that isn’t traditionally synonymous with the sport. Located 300km from its closest Victorian track of Horsham, which isn’t even operational at the moment, it’s a lot more than just hard work that is required to run a greyhound kennel.
But the Mildura-based Barry Fullerton has been involved in greyhound racing for more than 45 years, having come into the sport in an unusual manner involving a different animal altogether.
“You wouldn’t believe it, 45 years ago my father went to Melbourne to buy a goat and he came back with a greyhound – how and why I will never know,” Fullerton said.
It was definitely a case of sliding doors and since then Barry has been grateful for Melbourne’s shortfall of goats. Residing in the town of Red Cliffs, 20km south of Mildura, Fullerton’s operation is strictly family-run.
Fullerton’s wife Jennifer and daughter Melissa help share the load between their 20 greyhounds and 45-hectare property of dried fruit. Barry and Jennifer are horticulturists by trade but greyhound trainers by nature while Melissa is a remedial massage therapist which Barry believes is a vital key in their kennel’s success.
“We are a closely-knit family and we try to split the work between us. I tend to run the property while Jennifer and Melissa do most of the day to day chores with the dogs,” Fullerton said.
But the isolation of being based in north-west Victoria can come with its challenges.
Greyhound vets and checkers are few and far between around Mildura and therefore Fullerton has learnt to check his own dogs (for injuries) after years of watching people with more experience do it.
He has then passed this knowledge on to his daughter Melissa.
“Melissa is really good with the dogs and I think that is very much part of our success.”
Fullerton has also built a 280-metre straight track to help build his greyhounds’ fitness but they also utilise trials after the last race on race nights to gain experience at different tracks.
“Melissa and Jennifer mainly do the travel to race and trial the dogs, while I say at home to run the property and look after the dogs because it’s too long to leave the dogs,” Fullerton said.
The Fullertons current kennel superstar Jimmy Newob and he is making the long drives that little bit shorter.
“Jimmy Newob has surpassed any greyhound we have had in the past, talent wise. His times are that much quicker,” Fullerton said.
After less than overwhelming remarks from the breakers, the Fullertons bought Jimmy Newob back to the kennels and after a month’s rest the penny dropped.
“As soon as we started trialling him we knew he was something pretty special. But after he won his maiden, which was two lengths outside of Fernando Bale’s Bendigo track record (over 425 metres), we all got pretty excited.”
Jimmy Newob is the only greyhound on the property not bred by the Fullertons.
“One of my friends Keith Bowen and his brother Jon Bowen own Jimmy. I think they are pretty lucky considering he is only their second greyhound,” Fullerton said.
Jimmy Newob, which is Bowen spelt backwards, came to the Fullertons having dispelled a long-held myth.
Fullerton believes that Jimmy Newob has broken an old theory that blue dogs can’t run as fast as others.
“It’s funny because I have had a few handy blue dogs in the past, but some people really do believe that blue dogs aren’t as fast.”
Fullerton admits that for Jimmy Newob to continue to climb through the grades and compete at the top level he will have to improve his box manners by at least half a length.
“He is a young dog with an old head on him which can make him very hard to predict. I think it is really important that we take him along steady, to make sure that his confidence isn’t knocked.”
The long drives and the extreme heat is another hurdle that the Fullertons have to overcome in their travels. “We installed an air-conditioner in the trailer so that the dogs were comfortable in their travels,” Fullerton said.
“We also have wet coats the dogs wear to keep them cool – between the aircon and the coats the dogs barely feel the heat.”
With no intention of moving closer to the city tracks – where they hope to one day see their hard work pay off in group glory with Jimmy Newob – the Fullertons will continue the driving, learning and dedication to the sport of greyhound racing.