Allen Martin with Jessie (Cobar Sweetheart), who found form at the weekend.
Allen Martin with Jessie (Cobar Sweetheart), who found form at the weekend. Rob Barich

Victory is Sweet for Cobar couple

NOT even the most optimistic of punters would have backed the winner of Saturday’s race two at Thabeban Park.

Eleven starts for a best of fourth — most trainers would have rid themselves of Cobar Sweetheart long ago.

But the 27-month-old bitch hit the lead around the bend and did not slow up on the straight, giving charismatic trainer Allen Martin his first win in more than 18 months.

“I was just yelling, ‘keep bloody going’, because usually it drops off around the bend,” he recalled.

“I was pretty emotional at the track afterwards, that’s for sure.”

Martin turns 72 in July and has been training dogs since 1976.

Working for a bookie at the time, he went halves in a dog from Cobar.

“I thought to myself, I was born and bred in Cobar too, so it must be good,” he said.

Himself a former long-distance running champion, Martin insists he trains his dogs like he would train himself.

“Plenty of work, some TLC and regular check-ups,” he said.

“You’ve got to have patience, I’ve learned. Perseverance pays off.

“Most trainers let their dogs go after two years if they aren’t performing, but I had a dog (Vintage Charger) that came good well after it was two, so I knew there was hope for Cobar Sweetheart yet.”

His methods have not wavered in 34 years, earning him the well-deserved old-school tag from the likes of Bundaberg Greyhounds Club president Brian Terry.

“He still trains them like they used to, and he’s still training winners, so it was a definite highlight to see him get up on the weekend,” Terry said.

The winner’s brother, Cobar Charlie, under the direction of Tiaro’s Kevin Bryant, won the next race on the day, capping off a memorable meet for Martin.

The secret to the turnaround, according to Martin, was the loss of 3kg.

In mid-December Sweetheart weighed 30.5kg, but now it sits at 27.7kg.

“It looked great but could never last the distance.

“It ran its fastest time by far on the weekend and hopefully she has more in her from now on,” he said.

Martin shares a close bond with his dogs, waking at 6am to feed and train them, retiring to the house for lunch for half an hour, before heading back out to the shed until 10pm most nights.

It is at about that time he indulges in his other passion — cracking a home brew and chatting to the dogs until about 1am.

He has raced greyhounds in Bundaberg since 1999, alongside his son Steve “Ruddy” Martin.

Cobar Sweetheart will next race in the Young Guns on February 13.



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