Warrior King (box 7 – $4.90) for young training duo Jamie and Brooke Ennis produced a barnstorming finish to overcome Rob Britton’s Senor Socks (box 8 – $8.20) and Craig Davis’ White Spyro (Box 5 – $7.40) in the Group 2 TAB Bendigo Cup (425m) on Friday night.
The win broke a long-standing curse for owners Terry and Carol Wales, who although being involved in greyhound racing for a very long time, had never tasted group racing success.
The Wales’ famously owned Cape Hawke (who now stands at stud in NSW), a revered chaser also trained by the Ennis camp that made six Group finals, without success.
It was in his final race where the cruellest of blows would befall them, as Cape Hawke dashed to a race winning lead in the Group 2 Harrison-Dawson at Sandown Park he suffered a chilling injury, a broken hock, which ultimately ended his career.
Jamie recalls it being a shocking time for the camp, a devastating moment for everyone involved, a moment of tragedy that you would never wish on anyone, or dog.
However, as sure as the sun will rise tomorrow, there are second chances and tonight the terrible luck that had gone their way swung. It was as if there was a gust of wind behind Warrior King down the home-straight as he stormed past Senor Socks to claim a famous victory, leaving Ennis feeling a sense of tremendous happiness for his owners.
“All I could think about was how much the owners (Terry and Carol Wales) would be enjoying the win,” Ennis said “they have been through so much and they deserve this win.”
“Brooke was working at Geelong (Geelong Greyhound Racing Club) and she would have screamed just as much as they would have.”
“It’s not about the money for us tonight, it’s all about Terry and Carol. They are like family to us and all we wanted to do was train a group winner for them.”
The bond between the two families is so strong, that the Wales’ – who are in their mid-70’s – flew to Fiji for Brooke and Jamie’s wedding.
“We are very close with them, it’s almost like training a winner for a member of the family.”
“I know exactly what they would have been doing tonight too, Terry would have been on the couch watching the races and telling Carol to be quiet as the race was on,” Ennis laughed.
The tale of the owners is just one part of Warrior King’s story, with the greyhound’s early life also a signifier of his eventual success.
The meteoric rise of the Ennis kennel throughout 2014 can be attributed to, in Jamie’s words, the brilliant work of Michael and Michelle Jones who rear pups just outside of the Hunter Valley in NSW.
Of the 15 greyhounds in the Ennis kennel at the moment, 12 were reared at the property. Big names like; Golden Easter Egg winner – Tonk, Warrnambool Classic runner-up – Dream It, strong chaser My Bro Fabio and Bendigo Cup winner – Warrior King were all reared on the Jones’ property.
Their property is one of the best Jamie has seen in greyhound racing and their preparation of greyhounds to a life of racing, unparalleled.
“They’re (Michael and Michelle Jones’) property is like a bowling green, the grass there is immaculate, it’s almost sponge like,” he said
“The way they prepare the greyhounds is just ridiculously good, they come to us in perfect condition every time and all we have to do is keep them sound.”
“Their pups are fed three times a day and are exposed to all sorts of situations they would encounter as racers, their methods are the best in Australia in my opinion.”
The final vote of thanks for the night was reserved for Jamie’s bride, Brooke. Without Brooke, Jamie believes the pair wouldn’t have as much success out of their Lara kennel as they do.
“It would be impossible without Brooke, she is amazing. I wouldn’t be able to do it on my own.”
“The amount of work she does with the greyhounds is just incredible – I couldn’t imagine doing it without her.”
Warrior King’s career record now stands at 12 wins and 13 placings from 32 starts, with the $45,000 first-prize taking his career earnings to $127,000. The son of Turanza Bale and Flamenco, will now target the Group 1 Hudson Pacific Maturity Classic series at The Meadows next Saturday night.
WATCH: Warrior King’s Brilliant Bendigo Burst