Seventies music icon, and failed AFL Grand Final entertainer, Meatloaf, would be very proud of father and son training team, Andrew and Adam Crouch.
One of ‘Meat’s’ most memorable hits, from his iconic best-selling album Bat Out Of Hell, was the power ballad Two Out Of Three Ain’t Bad, and to that the Crouchs can relate.
Andrew and Adam have tenants in just three of their six kennels on their Western Sydney property. On Saturday night at Wentworth Park, two of their three greyhounds in training, contested the NSW heats of the Crocmedia National Sprint Championships. Each won a heat, and now both will have a shot of winning Thursday’s final at Wentworth Park, and then representing NSW for the national title in Perth later this month.
Jamella Jet, who burst into prominence last year when he finished second to Mystic Riot in the inaugural Million Dollar Chase at Wentworth Park, took out heat one, clocking a slick 29.76s, the best figures posted on the night. Around 20 minutes later, his kennelmate Sorry Scott (pictured), upset some of her more fancied rivals, winning her heat in 29.99s.
“Nights like that certainly make the cold mornings a lot easier,” Adam said. “There wouldn’t be many more consistent dogs going around than Jamella Jet. He may not be the fastest dog out, but he chases his arse off.
“He’s not the most brilliant beginner but if he gets a bit of room to move early then he can definitely find the front, and we weren’t shocked with what he did last night in a six dog field, and we knew that once he found the front he was going to be hard to run down.
“I don’t think the box (he has drawn box three in the final) will really worry him too much. I think it’s more what happens around him. There is a bit of pace on his inside and if Good Odds Harada (box 1) jumps, it could make it difficult for him, but if he can sit on his back, it could be anybody’s race coming into home turn.”
While he and his father “weren’t shocked” with the win of Jamella Jet, while she wasn’t the favourite, they also knew Sorry Scott was more than capable of winning the other heat. She has won four of her past five starts, all at Wentworth Park, including a sizzling 29.65s performance in June.
She has come a long way since fracturing a hock back in February.
“She was around a $1.30 favourite at Wentworth Park and she was beaten … she came third,” Adam recalled. “But then after the race her hock swelled up and we realised she had fractured it, so she would be on the sidelines for five or six months, but she has come back and this preparation she has gone as good as ever.
“We kept her kenneled for about four or five weeks and made sure the hock had healed properly, then we put her out in the yard with some of our pups that we’re rearing at the moment - they were only about five months’ old at the time. We thought she was the sort of dog who would relish a bit more confidence and putting her out with the pups, she became a boss out there, and she came back and she’s racing as good as ever. It really has seemed to have done the trick.
“At the time of the injury we were looking at giving her a spell but it’s always hard to give a dog a spell when they are racing well. As soon as the injury happened I knew what the plan would be of putting her in the yard with the pups and trying to get her a bit of confidence and it’s obviously worked.
“The good thing about her is she can do it at both ends. She’s run 5.44s (first sectional) at Wentworth Park early, and she is a pretty consistent beginner, but she can also run home in 11.60s. If she finds the front, it takes a really good dog to run her down.
“Drawing the eight (in the final) I think that’s perfect for her. She is the sort of dog who likes to run her own race and she does get off the track a little bit, and I think being out there she could just come down the outside and if she does get a good run through that first turn, and find the front, or lob on the leader’s back, she’s going to be really hard to hold out.”
While the focus is naturally on the Nationals’ Final for the moment, Crouch admits that all being well, both greyhounds will head towards the TAB Million Dollar Chase, with Jamella Jet looking to go one better than last year, and Sorry Scott, in many ways looking to emulate her kennelmate’s achievements of 2018.
“As long as she’s fit when the time comes around, she’ll have a crack at it,” Adam said of Sorry Scott contesting the rich series. “It’s the biggest race in the world and it’s not every day you have that in your own back ground and she’s familiar with Wentworth Park and also the country tracks where you have to qualify.
“Although she may be out-graded, she has proven she can run the time the group dogs can run, so she deserves a crack at it. You only get one chance, so you may as well have a go. I think last year Jamella Jet had only had about 12 starts when he won the heat and the final of the regional qualifier at Richmond.
“They are both quick enough to be in it, they just have to step up on the day and with a bit of luck, any dog can win. We would be silly not to nominate when the time comes around.”