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City slicker in race for first country cup

By Renee Mok

Blue Striker, trained in Reservoir by Peter Akathiotis, is one of the youngest contenders in this Saturday night’s $67,000 Group 2 Spolly’s Syndications Cranbourne Cup (520m). He is currently one of Victoria’s most consistent greyhounds, placing in 19 of his past 20 starts, and is a rare example of a group class greyhound being trained in the suburbs of Melbourne.

Akathiotis is undoubtedly one of the most decorated metropolitan trainers in Victoria, consistently breeding and training city-class greyhounds for more than 30 years. He claims good breeding is the key to his success.

“Always use a good stud dog,” Peter said. “We have good lines going back to the ‘90s. You should improve your breeding as you go along. Things come and go with how greyhounds come up, but good breeding is key.”

His greyhounds are born at his property and stay there for 3 months. After their second vaccination, he takes them to a rearing property outside the city, but every month Peter goes there to drop off a few dogs and take a few back home with him.

“It’s important to handle them and become their friend,” he said. “If you love them, they’ll love you back. This way they get the best of both worlds. They get to run at the property, and I get to know them and handle them. I take them for walks and sometimes to The Meadows to run up the straight track so they get used to it.”

While training from his housing block in Melbourne’s north, Peter won the 1992 Melbourne Cup with Master Giant. He said he used to walk his dogs through the surrounding streets, but nowadays he uses the facilities at The Meadows which is a short drive from his home.

WATCH: 2019 Group 2 Cranbourne Cup Preview

“I’m there every day galloping the dogs and trialling them in-between depending on the day. It’s a nice straight track and they keep it in good nick.”

Although Peter has found incredible success in Reservoir, he acknowledges that it is more difficult to train greyhounds in the suburbs.

“You have to work extra hard,” he said. “A trainer on a country property can easily train 15-20 dogs. It’s hard to train more than four or five in the city. You have to get in your car and drive whether its for training or meetings.”

Peter is currently training four greyhounds and says Blue Striker has all the qualities of a top-class racing dog.

“He’s a hard chaser and he’s extra keen. If he draws an inside box he’ll often lead. Unfortunately, he’s been given some bad boxes in big races which is hard as you’re racing against top quality dogs.”

Despite his consistency and genuine class, Blue Striker is rated an $18 chance in the Cranbourne Cup with tab.com.au, with dynamic duo Poke The Bear ($2.10 Favourite) and Orson Allen ($2.15) dominating betting.

“Blue Striker has to cross (in front of) them from box six and get to the rail. But he’s everything you want in a dog – strong at the right time with speed and endurance.”

Blue Striker is son of Peter’s former star Blue Giant and Blue Lavros and, at 27 months of age he is yet to hit his prime. The Cranbourne Cup will be his first country cup final and his biggest race to date. He ran a strong 2nd in his heat and should not be underestimated in his quest for the $47,000 first prize.

The Cranbourne Cup is the final leg of greyhound racing’s 2018-19 Gippsland Carnival. Admission into Saturday night’s final is free from 5pm and will include food trucks, loads of kids entertainment and the chance to meet AFL great Dane Swan. More info at here.

2019 CRANBOURNE CUP
Saturday night 9 February – 520 metres

1. Wears Woodleigh (Ian Brown, Loch) $41
2. Poke The Bear (SeonaThompson, Pearcedale) $2.10
3. Orson Allen (Correy Grenfell, Avalon) $2.30
4. Hightan (Michelle Nolan, Devon Meadows) $26
5. Huxley (Paul Abela, Parwan) $9
6. Blue Striker (Peter Akathiotis, Reservoir) $14
7. Azkaban (SeonaThompson, Pearcedale) $7
8 Sure To Excite (Graham James, Woodleigh) $26

Reserves
9. Hasten Slowly (Angela Langton, Anakie) $6
10. Dyna Chancer (Correy Grenfell, Avalon) $14
Note: Odds supplied by tab.com.au as at 6 February, 2019

2019 Cranbourne Cup

Photo by Clint Anderson

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