We cheer for the sporting underdog in Australia – it’s part and parcel of our cultural fabric. And particularly those who take a ‘long throw at the stumps’.
A classic example is Nerrena trainer Benjamin George who has $26 outsider Duce Royal (Box 6) in Heat 1 (Race 5, 8.24pm) of the Group 2 Warragul Cup (460m) tonight.
Duce Royal is pitted against sprinters the ilk of Western Envoy, Peter Galo and Slingshot Hammer in his heat.
“It’s a bit like Tattslotto… You have to be in it, to win it,” George said. “He’s a rough show, but he’s meeting quality opposition. However, he’s in form and finally deserves a crack at a group series.”
George added that Duce Royal (August 2015 Fernando Bale X Scissor Queen) is very consistent and honest but is getting on in age.
“He’s lazy at home… It’s pretty rare to see him change stride from a walk to a trot,” George quipped. “But he’s all business at the track.”
WATCH: Duce Royal (6) win over 460m at Warragul in January last year.
George loves his greyhounds, and that care factor is all-consuming – even to the extent that he scratched another runner, Kilpatrick, from the Cup heats.
“They’re predicting 35 degrees for Friday, so it’s going to be quite hot… Kilpatrick was coming back from a five-week spell and I didn’t want to knock him about first up,” George said.
A qualified electrician, George relocated from Queensland in mid-2017.
It’s said “the biggest risk to take, is to take no risk at all” and George threw caution to the wind, selling an inner-city block in Nundah (around 6kms out of Brisbane’s CBD).
“I left family and friends, including my mother and three brothers… It was a massive decision, and sometimes I regret it,” George said.
But he’s carried on regardless at his picturesque 10-acre property in Gippsland, just five minutes out of Leongatha and approximately 65km from Warragul.
George – who is satisfied with breeding 1-2 litters per year – only has four greyhounds racing and estimates he won around 35 races last year with his quartet.
Currently, he has only trained one city winner in Victoria – Kilpatrick, who clocked a best-of-day 29.95sec win at The Meadows on September 4 last year.
I mentioned earlier that George loves his greyhounds, and that’s unequivocal.
“They mean everything to me… You really get attached to them,” he said. “I love them all, and I just want them to get around safely. Anything else is a bonus.”
Duce Royal has notched 17 wins from 45 starts – including two wins and one third from five starts over Warragul’s 460m trip.
His late dam, Scissor Queen, is not only George’s foundation brood matron but won 20 races from 31 starts. She was also a NSW Northern Rivers star who won two Grafton Cups.
And Kilpatrick’s dam, Dozen Oysters, is a half-sister of Scissor Queen who sadly passed away in March last year.
George’s late father, Chris, was the catalyst behind his involvement in the sport.
“I assisted dad with his greyhounds as a teenager and later purchased Scissor Queen as a three-month-old pup,” George said.
“I was devastated when she died, but I still have Dozen Oysters who is a household pet.”
Pawnote: George has an amazing winning strike rate at Warragul – 18 wins from 35 total runs at 51.43%.