The number 640 holds a special place in the heart of Victorian greyhound trainer Darren Pattinson – that was the cap number he was bestowed with when he played his one and only cricket Test for his birth nation England in 2008.
Plucked from virtual obscurity, Pattinson was playing county cricket for Nottinghamshire when he achieved what so many young boys (and older men) dream of doing and he says it was not only a surprise to the wider cricket community, it was a shock to him.
“I’d only been in England for a couple of months and played a few county games for Nott’s where I’d taken plenty of wickets – I was on holiday in Ireland when I got the call up.
“I didn’t think too much of it and just thought I’d be cover for someone who’d been injured and that would be the end of it but when we got to the ground they told me I’d be opening the bowling and it was a massive shock,” said Pattinson.
Check out the TAB fixed odds markets for the Harrison Dawson and Sapphire Crown finals here.
Born in Grimsby in England, Pattinson’s Test career comprised of just the one match against South Africa where the former fast bowler took 2/95. He then returned to play for Victoria, the state he made his first-class debut for in 2007, before eventually retiring from first-class cricket two seasons ago.
Pattinson’s transition to training greyhounds came while still playing cricket a few years ago and with the dedication required to play sport at the ultimate level, it’s no surprise that he is now making a name for himself in the greyhound industry.
Speaking with me on Sky Sports Radio’s Going Greyhounds program, Pattinson told listeners that his well performed charge, Blazin’ Bomber, was primed and ready for a strong performance in the G1 Harrison-Dawson final to be held at Sandown Park this Thursday night.
“I was really happy with the way he went…5.13 is probably the quickest he’ll go to the first mark but he’s been coming out better just lately and a repeat of that should see him in the firing line,” said Pattinson
Blazin’ Bomber produced a brilliant railing performance in his heat last week to register 29.15, the fastest time of the four heats, and this followed a devastating win seven days earlier when he was victorious in the G3 Bill Collins Memorial Speed Star series clocking 29.09.
Drawn box 3 in the $100,000 to the winner feature, Blazin’ Bomber‘s fate may well be decided in the first 100 metres with One For Me and Dundee Osprey (drawn in boxes 1 and 2) likely to be tracking wide at the first turn.
Those two greyhounds aren’t noted for their early pace and if the ‘Bomber’ can find his way to the fence in the early stages with an unimpeded run I think he can win.
Pattinson scaled the lofty heights of success as a cricketer and says that to win a Group 1 greyhound race is his immediate ambition.
“It’s massive, it’s what we’re all aiming to do and Blazin’ Bomber has been in a couple of Group finals now and the dog is good enough to win one, so as a trainer, if I miss out on winning a Group 1 race with this dog I’ve probably done something wrong.
“I enjoy training greyhounds much more than I ever did playing cricket which probably sounds a bit funny but I just love being around the dogs and getting them ready for the big races,” he said.
The Pattinson family are certainly gifted when it comes to bat and ball. Darren’s younger brother James has played seventeen Test matches for Australia and he too is well ensconced in the greyhound industry, racing a number of greyhounds with success in recent times.
I’m tipping Darren Pattinson to create history on Thursday night and become the only person who has played Test cricket to go on and train a Group 1 winner in any racing code.
My selections in the G1 Harrison-Dawson final are Blazin’ Bomber from Aston Bolero, Dalgetty and One For Me.
The other Group 1 race to be decided on the night will be the Sapphire Crown final and I like the chances of Nymeria turning the tables on fastest qualifier Folio Bale, despite having to overcome the awkward box 6 draw.
For punters looking for value in the Sapphire Crown, I think that NSW chaser Star Torana is way over the odds at her current price of $26.
A winner at Wentworth Park on multiple occasions (29.65 her best), she is likely to receive a clear run in the early stages with the fast beginner and wide running Shared Equity drawn outside her and with the benefit of two runs at the track, I think she is a definite hope in the race.
And as if two Group 1 races on the one card is not enough to whet your appetite, Sandown Park will also play host to seven heats of the richest race in the world for stayers, the G1 Sandown Cup – the final will be held on Thursday, May 26 and offers a $175,000 winners cheque.
I’ll be trackside at Sandown Park this Thursday night with Nick Quinn and Simone Fisher from 7pm on Sky Racing1 (Ch526) with all the Late Mail tips as well as interviews with trainers of the key runners on what is shaping up to be a super night of greyhound racing.
Good luck and Good Punting.
G1 - The Bet365 Celebration Steeple Chase (class 1)
G3 - The Bet365 Gold Cup Steeple Chase (handicap) (class 1)
G1 - Aes Champion 4yo Hdle
Grade B - Setanta Sport H'cap Hdle
Grade B - Palmerstown House Pat Taaffe H'cap Chase