Geoff Collins is hoping his exciting youngster Hunkapapa can maintain his unbeaten record when he lines up in a heat of the $410,000 group 2 Launching Pad this Thursday night.
Owned by Collins (pictured above, right, with his nephews Blake and Elliot Rothfield) and trained by his partner Rosalyn Hulme, Hunkapapa burst onto the racing scene in January when winning by 8 lengths in a heat of the Maiden Thousand at Hobart. He remained undefeated throughout the series, claiming the $8000 to the winner final and booking a flight back to the mainland.
“We bought the dog from Barry Toner and sent to New South Wales to be broken in. He broke in reasonably, but was nothing out of the box,” said Collins.
“He needed a bit of confidence so we sent him down to Tassie with Pat Ryan who put him through his first few starts and he went really well. (At Hobart) he went 26.04 then 25.95 and they were telling me that that doesn’t happen with young dogs. A perfect example was Brad Hill Billy, at his sixth start he went 26.05 and they were raving about him. It makes you think this dog has got a load of ability – which he’s got in spades – he’s just got to put it all together now.
Hunkapapa made his Victorian debut in a heat of the Launching Pad qualifier at Sandown Park in February, overcoming a modest start to record an impressive four length victory in 29.65 however he was unable to take his place in the qualifier final due to illness. Now fully recovered, Collins believes that he will improve on whatever he does on Thursday night.
“We could have run him but we thought it may flatten him for this series so we thought it would be better to safe than sorry so we pulled him out. We gave him the week off and has had two runs at Ballarat and has gone really well. He probably needs a 500 (metre run) but he’ll have to get that in the first week of the series.
“He’s a lovely dog, he’s still feeling his way but if his confidence improves then I think he’ll be a really nice dog. At least we hope that’s what happens.”
Open to greyhounds with 1-6 wins and no more than 30 starts, the group 2 Launching Pad is a Australia’s only sweepstakes event. Connections pay $2000 for a place in the heats of the three week series, and as the name suggests, has been the launching point for a number of the sport’s elite chasers.
The Launching Pad final carries a $150,000 winner cheque and will be run on Thursday 29 March.
Click here for the fields and form guides for Thursday night’s heats.
The undefeated Hunkapapa (1) wins impressively on his Victorian debut