Former Test cricketer Darren Pattinson is hoping his remarkably successful transition to greyhound racing will continue on Thursday night in Brisbane when exciting youngster Express Pace contests the heats of the Group 2 Glen Gallon @ Stud Queensland Derby at Albion Park.
Pattinson, who played one Test match for England in 2008, has only been training since mid-2013 but he’s already tasted Group success with the aptly-named Express Pace winning the Group 3 Vic Breeders at The Meadows on Australian Cup night.
Pattinson, whose brother James is a current Australian fast bowler, is thrilled with Express Pace, which doesn’t turn two until July and is the veteran of just six starts.
A son of Irish sire Kinloch Brae, Express Pace trialled impressively at Albion Park last week in preparation for his assault on the $40,000 to-the-winner Queensland Derby, but Pattinson says a box eight draw in the last of five heats is a concern.
“I took him up to Brisbane last week for a look at Albion Park and he trialled 29.90, which I was really pleased with,” Pattinson said en route to the airport on Wednesday as he embarked on his first interstate campaign.
“He handled the travel really well and pulled up great.
“He’s a nice dog but he’s still really young and he’s only had six starts so I wanted to travel with him more for the experience.
“I don’t think he’s in a bad heat but he’s drawn out wide so it’s going to be hard for him. If he’d drawn inside I think he would’ve been a really good chance but he’s going to need some luck from out there because he just doesn’t have that explosive early speed.
“He’s only drawn near the rails once, when he had box two at Sandown, and he went really good (29.43sec) but then at his next start in the heats of the Launching Pad he couldn’t get across from a wide draw.”
Pattinson’s intriguing sporting transformation is all but complete as he only played “three or four” games of local cricket last summer, with his energies now focused very much on greyhound racing.
“I always wanted to get into greyhound racing when I finished playing cricket and I love it,” Pattinson said.
“It’s been great so far and I wouldn’t want to be doing anything else.
“There are probably a few little similarities between greyhound racing and cricket but the big difference is that in greyhound racing you’re not in control. You can only do so much and then it’s up to them.”
Express Pace is part of a small but select Victorian contingent targeting the Queensland Derby, with Melbourne Cup hero Dyna Villa (heat 1) and recent Golden Easter Egg runner-up Dawkins Bale (heat 3), Richmond Derby victor Quasi Bale (heat 2) and Ikari Express (heat 1) also venturing north for Thursday night’s heats.
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