• Monday, 07 Mar, 2022,
  • by Gerard Guthrie

Panama Canal’s remarkable return

After undergoing Achilles surgery late in 2021, lightly raced Panama Canal completed a remarkable return to racing at Healesville, when clocking the third fastest time ever recorded over 300m on February 27.

Making his first appearance since October 10 and having his first start for new trainer Jessica Hopkins and owner Nicholas Cutri, Panama Canal had won two of his three starts prior to being sidelined.

Just one week after Kepal had broken Healesville’s 300m record, clocking 16.21sec to eclipse Matt’s Entity’s previous benchmark of 16.22sec, Panama Canal made a stunning debut ‘up the straight’.

Drawn in Box 1, the $1.70 favourite careered away to a 6.5 length victory in a sizzling 16.29sec.

A delighted – and pleasantly surprised – Jessica Hopkins discussed the performance with race caller Victoria Shaw.

“It’s hard to say you ever expect them to run that,” Hopkins told Shaw.

“He had trialled really good first look up here, ten days ago. But to run – someone said, the third fastest time ever over 300m – I couldn’t have imagined that!”

Hopkins paid tribute to renowned veterinary surgeon Des Fegan, who operated on Panama Canal, champion trainer Jason Thompson for his advice on navigating a path back to the track, and former trainer Ian Garland, whose wife Jane bred the son of Superior Panama and Zipping Yoko.

“It’s hard to say you ever expect them to run that.”

“Des Fegan did the op – so thanks to Des – and Jason Thompson too,” she said.

“I actually asked him (Thompson) a lot of questions about how he went about getting dogs back, so they were a lot of help, and obviously he went good today.

“He was actually first-up for me too. The new owners bought him off Ian Garland and he came in great condition from Ian.”

After his first-up heroics, Panama Canal, which turned two on Australia Day, was given last weekend off by Hopkins, who identified heats of a 1-4 wins series at Healesville this Sunday as a likely option.

“I won’t rush him,” Hopkins said.

“Hopefully his Achilles holds together and he’ll let me know when he’s ready to go around a turn.”

WATCH: PANAMA CANAL (1) clocked the third fastest time ever recorded over 300m at Healesville on February 27, when running 16.29sec at his first appearance since October 10.

Gerard GuthrieGerard Guthrie

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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