THE Group 1 Ladbrokes National Derby arrived just a week too early for Cee Jay's Boy, who made an impressive Wentworth Park debut last Wednesday night.
Cee Jay's Boy, who had won six of 12 provincial starts in dashing style, led throughout to win a 520m fifth grade in 29.93sec, just .05sec slower than tough campaigner Rostered On took to win the top grade event earlier in the evening.
But it was Cee Jay's Boy's sectional times which had the pundits wondering why trainer Ron Marsden had not nominated his two-year-old sensation for the Derby.
Cee Jay's Boy posted absolutely sensational splits of 5.36, 13.74 and 17.88, figures rarely seen at Wenty.
"If the Derby heats had been on February 2 instead of January 25 Cee Jay's Boy would have been entered,'' Marsden said.
"I just felt the heats came along a week too soon for him because I had not had time to properly prepare him for a race like that at Wentworth Park.
"Before his race last Wednesday I had given Cee Jay's Boy a post-to-post slip and he went fast, then he returned to Wentworth Park and performed well in another trial.
"But it is one thing to have dogs running quick times on their own, it can be far different in a full field.
"So because of time constraints I wanted him to start off in a fifth grade and naturally I was very pleased with the way he went.
"The race I am aiming him for is the Group 2 Ladbrokes Cyril Rowe Bulli Cup.
"The heats are on February 16 and that looks a good race for Cee Jay's Boy as there is plenty of time to bring him back to Wentworth Park.''
Marsden, a retired truck driver, has long been among the sport's "quiet achievers'' but has not had a better team than he has in work at present.
Apart from Cee Jay's Boy, his kennel comprises that dog's litter brothers Hardaway Titan and Hardaway Harada.
Hardaway Titan, a 39kg giant, has had 10 starts for nine wins and a second, while Hardaway Harada has faced the starter on 21 occasions for 14 wins and seven placings.
Marsden's exciting trio of siblings are by Barcia Bale from My Lady Day, who was originally trained by the late Mickey Traino and then by Ron Marsden, and who won six of 15 races, including successive victories at Wentworth Park in May, 2015.
My Lady Day was a daughter of Arica Dora, who had Traino prepare for Sydney owner-breeder Leon Bozovitch.
Arica Dora had snapped a toe when trained in Melbourne so Bozovitch sent her to Traino, who had a reputation for reigniting the career of greyhounds with toe injuries through swimming them regularly in Botany Bay.
BIG Butters (pictured), who broke the Ladbrokes Gardens 715m record last June, has been retired after dropping a back muscle at WP last Wednesday.
"We intended retiring her when she reached the $100,000 in earnings milestone but the injury has just brought her trip to the breeding barn forward,'' trainer Andrew Crouch said.
Big Butters, a marvellously talented all-distance performer, won 28 of 63 races and amassed over $95,000 in stakes.
She is to be mated with boom sire Kinloch Brae.
EYE Rock, who took his record to 10 wins, 10 seconds and 10 thirds from 41 starts with a strong finishing victory at WP on Saturday night, was a lucky acquisition for veteran Hunter Valley trainer Warren Slade.
"Peter Neilson trained Eye Rock to win his first two starts at Maitland but when he went up to Queensland to train pacers, the dog's owner-breeder Helen Hanson, from Taree, asked me to take the greyhound,'' Slade said on Saturday.
"Eye Rock is a terrific chaser and while his time tonight of 30.12 was his best in town, he will have no trouble getting well under the 30sec mark if he ever decided to begin cleanly.''