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Vice Grip’s fairy tale finish

Victorian brothers Glenn and Grant Pask’s dream ride with homebred Group 1-winner Vice Grip has come to a fitting finale, with the 2022 Perth Cup hero bowing out on a winning note earlier this month.

Vice Grip enjoyed a perfect finish to a remarkable racing journey at his adopted home track, Cannington, recording a Best Of Night 29.74sec victory at his 86th and final start on January 7,  just three days before his fourth birthday.

It was the 38th win of a wonderful career that began in inauspicious fashion at Healesville back in August 2020, when finishing third at $18.

“We’d chatted about it (retirement),” Glenn Pask explained.

“The Perth Cup is coming up again and he probably could’ve won another four or five races, but it was getting to the stage where he probably needed a spell.

“But he’d just hit four and by the time he’d had a break and we got him back it would be three or four months.

“He doesn’t owe us anything and his health is more important than money.

“He won a Free For All at Cannington in the best time of the night, so we thought why not pull the pin on his fourth birthday.”

“He came over here as ‘a run through the grades and see how he goes’ dog, but he went through the grades and kept going!”

The Gippsland-based Pasks and good friend Jamie Baxter – the Four Frothys Syndicate – bred and raced Vice Grip, a regally-related son of Aston Dee Bee and 2016 Sandown Cup winner Bells Are Ringin.

Vice Grip started his career in Victoria, trained by Gerry O’Keeffe, who also prepared his mother and her G1-winning litter brother, 2016 National Distance champion Ring The Bell.

The blueblood cobbled together a handy but unremarkable 14 from 40 record in his home state, before relocating to Western Australia, via Darwin, relatively late in his career.

Vice Grip underwent an amazing transformation under the guidance of young WA trainer Adam Smithson, who enjoyed a life-changing association with the Victorian import.

“A lot of our breed come good around two and a half, and he obviously loved it in Perth and he loved Adam’s training,” said Pask.

From his arrival, in September 2021, Vice Grip dominated the WA sprint ranks.

He won 16 from 26 over Cannington’s 520m course, the obvious highlight last year’s Perth Cup, while he also claimed back-to-back wins in the G2 All Stars, and annexed last year’s G3 Mandurah Cup.

WATCH: Vice Grip (B5) completed an amazing transformation from ‘journeyman’ sprinter to Group 1 hero with a brilliant victory in the 2022 Perth Cup Final, clocking a Cannington PB of 29.42sec.

Vice Grip returned to Victoria to contest the inaugural The Phoenix in 2021, while late last year he qualified for the G1 Melbourne Cup final, ran third in the G1 Topgun and also finished fourth in the G1 Hobart Thousand.

“I could go on for ever talking about him!” said 29-year-old Smithson.

“He came over here as ‘a run through the grades and see how he goes’ dog, but he went through the grades and kept going!

“I was over the moon when he won the All Stars. I thought, ‘How good is this!’

“But from there he went from strength to strength and turned into a beast. He was a bully over here.

“To win a Group 1 (Perth Cup) running fast time (29.42sec) was a huge thrill.

“We went to Sydney for a heat of the Million Dollar Chase, and he ran down Wow She’s Fast. We know how great Wow She’s Fast is, and I think that’s the only time anything has come from behind to beat her.”

With Vice Grip an elite performer boasting a wonderful pedigree, it’s hardly surprising Pask has fielded “a fair bit” of interest from breeders.

Vice Grip will remain with Smithson, as he makes a timely entry to the stud ranks, following the announcement his sire, 2017 Melbourne Cup winner Aston Dee Bee, a son of champion sire Barcia Bale, has retired from commercial stud duties.

“I’d like him to race forever!” Smithson said.

“He could have kept racing, but he was a champion in our eyes, and he deserved to go out a winner.

“He’s staying over here, and his stud fee will be $1650. He’ll be available in six to eight weeks.

“He’s the most docile-natured dog at home. On day one when we brought him into the house, he just jumped on the bed and lay down. Five days after winning a Free To All at Cannington, he was sitting with me on the lounge, watching the Big Bash!”

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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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