THE dogs were back barking at Hastings River Greyhound Club on Saturday for one of the first meetings since New South Wales Premier Mike Baird’s ban backflip.
And it was Mini Cousin who celebrated in style in race five for Bellangry trainer Karl Miller.
She finished the race in a scintillating time of 21.56 seconds ahead of Eye’s Brodie and Showtime Lucy.
It was a staggering one-tenth of a second, or a length and a half, outside the track record.
“It’s a very rare, very fast time,” Miller said.
“They thought it was close to the record, but it wasn’t quite.”
It was Mini Cousin’s first run in more than a month after the industry stopped following Mr Baird’s original plan to ban greyhound racing.
“I couldn’t get her a run with everyone being shut down so I gave her that time off and it did her good because it’s the fastest time she’s ever ran,” Miller said.
“She jumped reasonably well and then took off from the first turn and it was all over. When she gets to the front she’s got very good sections.
“She never used to jump, she used to come out a couple of lengths behind and then she’d find trouble trying to get through. She got into second on Saturday and shot past them.”
Miller felt drawing box five contributed to Mini Cousin just missing out on the track record.
“I knew she was a pretty good little dog, but having box five makes it a little bit harder because it’s right in the middle,” he said.
“If she had have had the inside or the outside box I believe she would have beaten the track record. She’s got a big future.”
Miller himself had to overcome a heart complaint which had seen him lying in a hospital bed for the last six days.
“It was beating a bit too fast, so they’ve had to put me on a few things but hopefully they’re on top of it now,” he said.
“I got a bit excited yesterday and I thought I was going to go down on the track, but I was lucky I had good friends there to take over.”
He had hoped to head to Maitland on Thursday, but will have to wait until Grafton next Monday for his next race.
“I was going to go to Maitland this week but they’re maiden heats so we’ll go to Grafton next Monday night,” he said.
“She loves Grafton; she’s had three starts for two wins and a third.”
Miller said he would now look at the Wauchope Cup at the end of the year for Mini Cousin to continue her good form.
“I think keeping her fresh and not give her too much running will be the key,” he said.
“She hates the walking machine and goes out in her little yard four times a day and then does her own thing.”
The trainer said there was a different feel at the track on Saturday.
Trainers and owners alike were relieved to be back doing what they loved.
“It was unbelievable, it was a different feeling to go back and see all your friends.”