Retired teacher Andy Stewart, dubbed the “Scottish Soldier” by race caller Ron Hawkswell in reference to his singing namesake, is hoping to cause a massive upset in Saturday night’s AJS Corporation Silver Chief Classic (525m) at The Meadows.
Silver Chief surprise packet Midwinter had been racing over middle distances when Stewart, 70, made the eleventh hour decision, with plenty of encouragement from wife Judy, to nominate the homebred son of Cosmic Rumble and Tania Two Shoes for the Group 1 series.
“We weren’t going to put Midwinter in the Silver Chief because we thought he was more of a 600m dog,” Melton-based Stewart explained.
“But Judy said it’s an age race and you only get one chance at it, so we decided to put him in the heats and he’s acquitted himself nicely so far.
“He just can’t get out fast enough against the really good sprinters but he’s a very strong dog – he comes home like a train – and he’s shown in the heat and semi-final that he’s got a lot of race sense.
“He’s one of the most honest chasers we’ve ever had. You don’t ever have to question his commitment and whatever he does on Saturday night I know he’ll be trying his hardest.”
Midwinter has started in excess of $20 in his barnstorming heat and semi-final placings and he’s once again an outsider at $35 in the TAB’s Fixed Odds market on the $100,000 to-the-winner finale.
“We’ve never been in a Group 1 race before and it’s such a thrill because we only ever have a few dogs. If MIDWINTER is within three or four lengths of the favourite (HARLON) then watch out!”
– ANDREW STEWART
“We’re not going there with any great expectations but we know he’ll give his all and if he’s within three or four lengths of the favourite (Harlon) then watch out!” Stewart said.
“It’s very exciting and I’m going to enjoy the two walks on Saturday night whatever happens but I hope it’s a long walk up to the boxes and only half a walk back for the presentation!”
Stewart’s introduction to greyhound racing came through his friendship with successful mentor Stan Wardle; however his training career didn’t get off to the best of starts.
“I worked with Stan Wardle for years and I started training when Judy bought me a greyhound off Stan called Judy’s Surprise,” Stewart recalled.
“We took her to Traralgon for her first start but she got her foot caught in another dog’s blanket and broke her foot. She didn’t race again but we brought her home and bred a litter that included Pharoah King, which won the Great Chase.
“Midwinter is from the Superman bloodline. We had Superman’s sister Pearlee Surprise. She was a very good racer and when we mated her with Premier Fantasy we got Tania Two Shoes, which is the mother of Midwinter.
“We’ve never been in a Group 1 race before and it’s such a thrill because we only ever have a few dogs. We’ve got four dogs at the moment, including Midwinter’s brother Slick Ice. Slick Ice has been a little bit injury prone in his early days but he’s won four from nine and ran fourth in a Silver Chief semi-final.”WATCH: Midwinter (4) flashes home to run second behind Invictus Rapid in his Silver Chief semi-final last week.