Polijuice Potion, one of the most consistent greyhounds to grace Sandown Park, has been retired following her 100th start on Speed Star Super Sunday.
Bred, owned and trained by Ian and Lisa Cockerell, the rising four-year-old was a fixture at Sandown Park throughout her career, making 68 appearances at the View Road circuit, including her last 29 track appearances.
“I don’t know what it was, she just liked it here,” said Lisa Cockerell after confirming Polijuice Potion’s retirement.
“She’d get out of the van here and always be up and jumpy and giving me cuddles and excited to be here. She was a bit quieter if she went to The Meadows and we didn’t try any of the other tracks once she hit the city tracks because it just didn’t suit her. She liked the circle tracks and we like it here too so it suits.”
Polijuice Potion, or ‘Butterfly’ as she was named by the Cockerell’s six-year-old daughter Morgan, certainly did like Sandown Park. Her overall record at the track was 68 starts for 16 wins and 22 minor placings. When she won over 715m in April, she became the 68th greyhound to win over all three racing distances at Sandown Park, and won from every box at the circuit but box 8.
‘Butterfly’ began her career in May 2015 and had never spent more than a month away from the track since. She became a weekly fixture at Sandown Park in the final seven months of her career, finishing in the money 17 times in that time, a remarkable effort given each of those starts were in mixed grade or higher. In fact, she hasn’t competed in a grade 5 at Sandown Park since April 2016, particularly notable feat given it took her nine starts to break her maiden and 20 starts to reach grade 5.
“She was pretty terrible early on,” said Cockerell with a laugh.
“She wasn’t one at break in that we thought ‘she’s the one’, so for her to do what she’s done, it’s pretty special.
“We do everything (whelping, rearing, breaking), so I literally watch them be born and watch them retire. I get really nervous the first time they go around, but am just so proud whether they win lose or draw if they go around and they’ve tried hard it’s the best.”
Polijuice Potion’s biggest win on the track, the listed Australian Sprint, came about in unusual circumstances. With plans to step up to 715m in place, the Maidment Memorial over 595m was the target. However a nomination mix up saw Polijuice Potion draw box 1 in the 515m feature that included Melbourne Cup winner Dyna Double One and track record holder Unlawful Entry.
“When I screwed up the nomination and won, it’s something I’m never going to forget.
“But there were so many highlights. Winning her maiden was awesome, when she won over 700m to win over all three distances, then her last start was really special.
“We knew she couldn’t match Zipping Angus but to jump as good as she did and try as hard, that was really special. She’s come up against the young gun coming through the ranks and it just proved that she can still run a pretty good time. She’s always tried – she’s never not – I think that’s the most important thing with her.”
Her final run was the third fastest in the Galactic Diamond Speed Star event, collecting another $500 to take her career stake money to $177,940. Combined with her litter mates, the Kinloch Brae x Finlandia progeny have registered 55 race wins and $359,103.
Being a fixture at Sandown Park for as long as she has, retirement will take some getting used to – for trainer and greyhound.
“It’s different coming to Sandown without her. She always went in the driver’s side front compartment, it’s always been hers so to not put her in there it’s definitely different.
“She was watching us weigh the dogs yesterday and she said ‘pick me!’ I don’t think she gets it yet and I don’t think she’ll take to it lightly.
“It’s bit of a privilege to have one like her. All the dogs are special but when you get one like her it’s a bit more special. “It was a bit sad coming out of here last Sunday afternoon knowing that was the last time.”
Polijuice Potion leads all of the way to win the listed Australian Sprint
POLIJUICE POTION, by the numbers
Kinloch Brae x Finlandia
Black bitch whelped 8/12/2013
Owned and trained by Ian Cockerell
Bred by Lisa Cockerell
Record: 100 starts, 21-17-17
At Sandown: 68 starts 16-11-11
13th most starts at the track since 1995. Most – Sound Deposit, 105
Over 515m: 23 starts 7-3-5
Over 595m: 36 starts 7-5-5
Over 715m: 9 starts 2-3-3
Best winning times
Best of night wins: 9 (7 at Sandown Park)
First start: 13 May 2015
First win: 15 July 2015 (at Ballarat, 9th career start)
First win at Sandown: 26 November 2015 (28th career start, 9th start at Sandown)
Last grade 5 start at Sandown: 14 April 2016 (52 starts ago at the track)