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Utah Ghost’s Straight Track ‘Spirit’

Utah Ghost’s sensational transition to straight track racing has come as a huge relief to young Lara trainer Tim Britton.

A wrist injury had made racing around bends problematic for Utah Ghost, a litter brother to Britton’s G1 Australian Cup finalist Utah Blues, but an expedition to Healesville has breathed new life into the superbly related son of Barcia Bale x Utah Miss’ career.

Utah Ghost is unbeaten in two flying victories at Healesville and is the fastest qualifier for Sunday afternoon’s Victorian Straight Championship final (350m), where a mouth-watering showdown with dual country cups hero Ferdinand Boy awaits.

“It’s definitely been a relief because we were starting to wonder what to do with him,” explained Britton, son of champion mentor Robert.

“He just can’t handle bends because of a wrist injury he had earlier on.

“The first time we took him to The Meadows he nearly went over the fence.

“The whole way through he’s always had a motor. He’s been lightly raced at Geelong, and we decided to take him to Healesville and see how he goes and he’s gone really well.”

Utah Ghost, which turns three in September, has been restricted to just 22 starts, of which he’s won eight, also recording eight minor placings.

He won three of his first four starts at Bulli in early 2020 but was then out of action for six months before reappearing at Sandown Park last November.

After taking nine starts to open his Victorian account, Utah Ghost has won five of his next nine.

The last two have been BOD performances at Healesville, clocking 19.16sec at his first ‘look’ at the track and then a scorching 18.93sec last Sunday in the first of two Straight Track Championship heats.

The second heat was won by G2 Ballarat and G2 Shepparton Cup victor Ferdinand Boy, trained by David Geall, which edged out Smart As Jack in 19.06sec at his Healesville debut.

WATCH: Utah Ghost (7) makes it two from two at Healesville with a scorching 18.93sec win in his Victorian Straight Track Championship heat.

“Utah Ghost hadn’t trialled at Healesville before his first start there,” Britton said.

“To see him break 19 seconds last Sunday was great. I haven’t raced at Healesville a lot but the locals told me the track was a bit heavier on the outside, where he raced.

“He’s a fast dog but in saying that he doesn’t have great habits. He has tardy box manners but then he takes off and he also runs wide.

“I’d like to say he’ll win again on Sunday but it’s a very good race.

“I think Ferdinand Boy should probably go better this week. Utah Ghost has drawn six and Ferdinand Boy is on his inside in five so my bloke will give him some room to move.

“It’s a shame they weren’t able to hold the National Championship up in Queensland because of COVID.

“Win or lose I’d say he’ll be back for the Healesville Cup (heats Sunday, September 5) because it’s hard to race him anywhere else.”

As mentioned, Britton also guided Utah Ghost’s litter brother Utah Blues to fifth place in the Australian Cup final in February; however he’s been sidelined since, while another sibling in G2 Richmond Derby finalist Utah Express was also recently cut down by injury.

“The whole litter has ability but unfortunately they’re injury prone,” Britton said.

“After the Australian Cup we took Utah Blues to Shepparton to trial before the Shepparton Cup and he did a back muscle. We got him back and he did it again. He’s back with his owner in NSW (Joseph Satti).”

Utah Miss, a litter sister to Group-winning stayer Ebby Ripper and half-relation to brilliant sprinter Aussie Infrared, the sire of star sprinter Catch The Thief and G1 winner Playlist, produced a second litter to Barcia Bale in July 2020.

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About Gerard Guthrie - One of Australia's leading greyhound racing journalists since 2000 with the Greyhound Recorder and now with Greyhound Racing Victoria. Part-owner 2013 Group 1 Paws Of Thunder winner Sheikha. (The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of GRV)
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