Luca Neveelk bounced back from a rare defeat in the TAB Bendigo Cup to win a heat of the $145,000 Group 1 Hudson Pacific Maturity Classic (525m) at The Meadows on Saturday night.
The win was the greyhound’s 13th from just 15 starts, and there wasn’t a happier man on course than his breeder, owner and trainer Gerry Kleeven.
“I felt like a million dollars after he won his heat. I was so happy, it was as if I’d won the Melbourne Cup,” said Kleeven, of Denison.
“When you breed, rear and train a greyhound yourself, and it comes out and wins a heat of a Group 1 race, it means everything.”
In what was Luca Neveelk’s first start in the city, he led all the way in the time of 30.148sec.
Kleeven’s involvement in greyhound racing dates back to the 1970s, with Luca Neveelk fast becoming the best greyhound he has ever had. He insists that the greyhound’s composure in the heat of battle is what sets him apart.
“He likes to rail but he doesn’t crash to the fence if he doesnt have a clear passage. He’s got a fantastic racing brain in that he’ll continue on in a straight line until the right time to cut across to the rail. You find that with the better dogs – they don’t panic – and that’s him to a tee,” he said.
Luca Neveelk will need to use all his smarts when he lines up in one of four semi-finals on Saturday night at 9:20pm, as he is drawn in Box 7.
“I think he’s perfectly drawn in his Semi. He needs that little bit of room in the first 10 or 15 metres of his races before he really gets going, and while the greyhound in Box 8 (Eliza Blanche) has a bit of early pace, she is only little (26.3kg) compared to him (36.5kg) so he should be able to brush past her,” Kleeven said.
The first and second placegetters in Saturday night’s Semi-finals will make it through to the $100,000 to-the-winner final on 26 July.
Pictured above: Luca Neveelk with Gerry Kleeven.
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