By James Broadhurst
Jackson Country isn’t “just going around” in the final of the Summer Chase (600m) at Cannington at Saturday according to trainer Damien Crudeli.
The consistent chaser comes into the race after a comfortable victory in his heat last weekend.
Despite a brief mid-race falter, where he got wrong footed as he turned into the backstraight, Jackson Country rolled on to win by nearly two lengths in 35.14.
“I was stoked with the run, even with the little ‘brain fade’ he had there,” Crudeli said.
“His first section was really quick and he finished strongly as he always does.
“He’s worked beautifully this week and is looking really good.”
Jackson Country has drawn box seven for the trophy decider where he’ll take on likely favourite Sir Monty.
Sir Monty is racing in top form with wins from his past four starts and enters the final after winning his heat by more than five lengths in 34.90.
“It’s a tough race so you can’t be super confident but we’re definitely going in with the aim of a podium finish,” Crudeli said of Jackson County’s chances.
“I was happy with the wide draw because there’s a lot of dogs on his inside that go hard left out of the boxes and he’ll miss all that.
“Obviously he’ll need to start well but if he can straighten up in second or third spot he’ll be in business.
“Can he run down Sir Monty if Sir Monty is on the arm? I don’t know…but he’ll give it a crack.”
Jackson County has been standout performer for Crudeli’s newly established kennel.
In 18 starts for the trainer the powerful running black chaser has finished no worse than fourth place and has racked up six wins during that stretch.
Crudeli has had a lifetime involvement in greyhound racing and was a key component in the rise of ‘Team Crudeli’, working alongside his father Enzo and brother Graham to build what has become one of the successful racing kennels in the state.
In late 2019 Crudeli struck out on his own as a trainer and after slow start in the first few months the kennel, which is across the road from his father’s, quickly built momentum.
With his scrappy team of cast-offs and hand-me-down racedogs Damien zeroed in on a successful formula of targeting country and provincial races.
The approach has paid dividends: Crudeli was second on Mandurah trainer’s premiership table in 2020 with more than 120 winners.
“The system is fantastic because I don’t need to win the bigger races to keep the kennel going,” he said.
“My wife Mandy and the kids are a big part of running the kennel which is great to do it together as family.
“We don’t rush things with the dogs, we take our time with them which creates a good environment and encourages the best out of them.
“A lot of the greyhounds I get have been good dogs in the past or have shown some talent but have tailed off for whatever reason.
“The biggest factor is that we are able to place the dogs into the right races, often in lower grades, and build them up from there.”
“By racing them in the easier company we can build their confidence back and get them winning again.”
Crudeli recently bred a litter of pups which hints at his ambition and future plans expansion for the kennel but he says he isn’t straying too far from what’s worked for him, at least for the moment.
“It’s exciting to have the pups and lot of fun for the kids but I think we’ll keep the breeding as side thing for now because it’s a lot of work,” he said.
As he hits 2021 full of momentum the number of dogs in Crudeli’s kennel continues to grow and he expects to have up to 30 racedogs up and running for him within a month or so.
This year shapes as even better than the last for Crudeli.
Jackson County might just give him a flying start on Saturday night.