Short-course speedster Tough Like Atom ($2.40F) provided young Murchison trainer Stacey Evans, 29, with her first winner – and a huge thrill – at Shepparton on November 9.
The 22.13sec victory over 385m was even more sweet given the young mum has spent so much time with the quirky female greyhound, who had unfortunately ‘soured’ midway in her initial preparation.
“My partner, Thomas Wark, and I were puzzled as to her fractious behaviour, which she did not present with in the beginning,” said Stacey, pictured above with Thomas and Tough Like Atom (photo courtesy Leo Dahl).
Originally trained by Wark, Tough Like Atom (Dec ’17 Spud Regis x Panic Station) was then sent to Dingee trainers Barry and Julie Hall in early April this year.
“Oddie”, which is what my son Michael and I call Tough Like Atom, was showing some great signs of progress before developing a bit of an attitude,” she added.
WATCH: Tough Like Atom (1) sticks to her guns despite being challenged by Kraken Ruben (5) at Shepparton last week.
“So, Thomas and I decided to send her away to Barry and Julie, to see if they could get to the bottom of her issues, and they did a great job.”
Stacey and Michael, 9, were very pleased to have Oddie return to them as she spent six months with Barry and Julie.
“We know that Barry and Julie really looked after her, but we love her so much and really missed her,” Stacey said.
“Michael and I call her Oddie, as she does have some oddball ways. We could be brushing her, and she will just drop to the ground and look at us; she can be very funny. Michael also gave Oddie her race name after the movie Real Steel – the science fiction sports film.”
Back on September 24, representing Stacey’s kennel for the first time, Tough Like Atom stepped away from the boxes at Shepparton and speared the lids, only to be run down late in the home straight.
At her next start, she was straight out to lead, which is her customary role, and then Stacey noticed that she went very wide. “I was pretty happy with Oddie’s preparation prior to that race and she was coming along well, but soon after I discovered she had injured a triangle muscle in one of her back legs,” Stacey said.
It would be another four starts before Tough Like Atom would land Stacey her first win as a greyhound trainer after some tantalising placings.
As a relative newcomer to the Victorian greyhound community, Stacey has certainly made an impact in less than two years. Earlier this year, Stacey received the ‘Greyhound Racing Industry Award’ at the Shepparton Greyhound Awards, recognising her determination and contribution.
Stacey has also been working at Shepparton GRC undertaking maintenance roles and is extremely hands on, both on trial and race days, and can now add greyhound trainer to her ever-expanding resume.
She aims to keep on improving the capacity of the greyhounds in her kennel, including Blur who is currently racing. “I have retired Kehestto and also have a second litter that Thomas and I share,” Stacey said. “They are nearly 12 months old, so we have a lot to look forward to.”
When asked what Stacey believes is her point of difference with her preparation of Oddie and other greyhounds in her care, she responded: “I think having some playtime with my son Michael is very helpful and breaks up the greyhounds’ routine. It is pretty relaxed here and they really enjoy playing with him.”
“With no previous exposure or family interest in racing greyhounds other than being recently introduced to the breed thanks to Thomas, Stacey concluded: “I just love the dogs and have certainly got the bug now. It is a great sport and very family oriented.”
Image above taken by Leo Dahl.