Prolific speedster Henessey Venom, GRV Watchdog’s Bet of the Day, will lead Kerry Houlahan’s five-pronged assault on Monday’s Healesville meeting, as her Lang Lang kennel returns to action after a brief hiatus.
Houlahan, who prepares a small team in partnership with son Jess Grima, adopted an admirably cautious approach in protecting her dogs from the canine gastroenteritis outbreak but she’s aiming to come back with a vengeance.
“The dogs were going well and we didn’t want them to get sick so we stayed away for two weeks,” Houlahan explained.
“It’s better to be safe than sorry.
“They’re all ready to go again. They don’t lose too much in two weeks and they work every day here in the runs and on the walking machine. A bit of a break just refreshes them.”
Houlahan agrees that Henessey Venom, which improved his imposing record to 21 from 45 with a last start success at Shepparton on March 12, is the pick of her chances at Healesville, although she concedes he isn’t at home down the straight.
Henessey Venom has been unplaced in two Healesville assignments, which include the heats of the 2018 Healesville Cup at just his fourth start, and he’ll get the opportunity to open his account at the track when he exits box one in race six, to jump at 12.45pm.
“I know he doesn’t really like Healesville but I’m hoping he goes alright,” said Houlahan.
“He was only a pup when we raced him there before and he just didn’t like the place but hopefully he’s matured a bit now.
“I would prefer him in the middle but if he jumps well he should be right.
“In his last start at Shepparton he got slammed into the rail and needed stitches afterwards but he flew home to win. I couldn’t believe he was able to win after the damage he did.”
Houlahan’s other Healesville contenders are the in-form Tickle My Fancy (race 8, box 2), winner of six of his last ten starts, Line Trike (race 2, box 4), So Much Mojo (race 4, box 5) and youngster Majestic Mojo (race 5, box 6).
Son Jess also has Layback Cruiser (race 7, box 6) engaged on the 12-race card.
“None of them are absolute flying machines up there (Healesville) but in saying that there’s been reasons why,” Houlahan offered.
“Tickle My Fancy has been going really well, while Layback Cruiser has matured a lot, that little dog.
“It would be great if we could get a couple of winners and a couple of placings too would be even better!”
Having left no stone unturned to shield her dogs from gastro, Houlahan, like everyone in greyhound racing, has great concerns about the ongoing viability of the sport as the spectre of the coronavirus pandemic hovers.
“My biggest concern would be getting meat for our dogs,” Houlahan said.
“I get our meat weekly and store it in the freezer but we’ve only got enough room for a week’s worth of meat. I’ve been looking for a bigger freezer but they’re hard to find too.
“I’ve stocked up on kibble, pasta, rice and bread but I haven’t got the room to store any more than a week’s worth of meat.
“Nobody complained when I used to buy a box of pasta from the store but now they stare daggers at you if you’ve got two packets!
“Jess works full-time but he does all the nominating and breeding because I’m computer illiterate. They don’t like me and I don’t like them!
“I suppose if we do have to stop racing I’ll have a bit more time to learn about computers if somebody will show me,” she added with a laugh.