By Mick Floyd.
If ever there was a greyhound built to thrive in the one-on-one match race format, Houdini Boy is it.
I first met Houdini Boy as an unraced pup early in 2020 when he hand slipped around Sandown Park in 22.90. That is quick – very quick in fact – and has gone quicker since. I was excited to find out more but trainer Kel Greenough didn’t share my enthusiasm. “He’s got ability, but he’s the worst box dog I’ve ever had,” he said.
And he was right – his box manners are dreadful. Greenough is one of the best regarded conditioners in the sport and despite trying every trick in the book – and inventing some new ones – Houdini Boy still won’t step. He was also right about Houdini Boy’s ability – the dog is a flying machine. In fact, the lack of box speed is the dog’s only flaw.
Once he (finally) leaves the boxes, he musters speed as quickly as any greyhound in the land. He’s shown tremendous field sense especially for a greyhound with such limited experience and chases like a demon, taking runs whenever and wherever they present. He’s as strong as a bull and most importantly, can run time. Serious time. And when it comes to Speed Star discussions, the ability to run time is paramount.
After several eye catching runs over 500m – coming from last on each occasion – he stepped up to the middle distance and ran the fourth fastest time of 2020 over 595m at Sandown Park. Only group race winners Hooked On Scotch, Rajasthan and Christo Bale, as well as Speed Star 595 runner up Rockstar Prince, have gone quicker. His run home over 595m was four lengths faster than what Australia’s second highest ranked sprinter Tiggerlong Tonk ran home over 515m on the same night.
And he did it coming from last. “That is something special indeed, wow wee!” said race caller James van de Maat. Houdini Boy had arrived – and quickly.
He has since franked that form with three wins from four starts over 600m at the Meadows – again from well back – his last two in a flying 34.16 and 34.20, both faster than what any of his rivals have run.
Put simply, Houdini Boy is the fastest greyhound in the 600m Speed Star. He’s shown he can run time in a field. He’s shown he can run time on his own. He’s shown he can run time while working through a field. What he lacks in early speed he makes up for with devastating strength. With only one rival to contend with, Houdini Boy will claim his first group race title.
Houdini Boy wins the 600m Speed Star, you can write the headline now.
Tornado Tears holds the record as the shortest priced match race winner at $1.05.
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