By Peter Quilty
Run Like Jess runs like the wind… And so too could his dam, Paua To Avoid.
He’s also named after ‘mum’, who is affectionately known as “Jess” in the Palmer household at Caldermeade – around 35km along the South Gippsland Highway from Cranbourne.
Trainer Robert Palmer, 65, purchased Paua To Avoid for $35,000 as a racing proposition and with breeding in mind.
Palmer had the ‘inside oil’ as he’d previously purchased two of her litter sisters as three-month-old pups for $3000 each. One of them, Lucky Seed, won 10 races from 32 starts.
Palmer says it’s his most astute investment in the sport, and that will be further vindicated if Run Like Jess claims the Group 3 RAM Security Cranbourne Classic (520m) on Friday.
“He won his Maiden in 30.11sec and came home in 8.75sec on the same night Often Imitated won the Group 2 Cranbourne Cup in 30.09sec with a final split of 8.93sec – that’s three lengths quicker over the final section,” Palmer said. “It wouldn’t surprise me if he came out and ran 29.70sec on Friday.”
“He’s a definite chance at good odds in the final,” Palmer said. (Run Like Jess is $7.00 on TAB’s fixed odds market.)
WATCH: Run Like Jess (4) wins at Sandown, over 595m, on August 6.
“I think if the favourite Catch The Thief gets into any trouble, he’s right in the mix. It will take a good dog to beat him if he gets to the front. And it would be fantastic to win, particularly as his dam contested the final four years ago.”
Run Like Jess has drawn Box 3 in the final and Palmer says he’s well drawn, especially at Cranbourne. In fact, he’s won three races from five starts exiting from the ‘white’ alley.
Palmer added that Run Like Jess, who won four successive metropolitan middle-distance races prior to the Classic heats, is “getting better and better”.
“In his heat, there were three in line approaching the first turn and he was the widest of all,” Palmer said. “He got shuffled back and did well to finish fourth.”
Run Like Jess has won nine races (with eight seconds and four thirds) from 30 starts, including a 29.90sec PB at Cranbourne. He was also a G2 McKenna Memorial finalist.
And he hails from a litter comprising Junk Food Junkie (G1 Peter Mosman Opal finalist), Devel Sixteen (three city wins) and Fast Food Junkie (five wins).
Ironically, Paua To Avoid – whose maternal grand-dam is ‘Hall of Famer’ Paua To Burn – was a 2016 Cranbourne Classic finalist. So, Palmer and wife Michelle, who owns Run Like Jess, bought into an amazing dam line.
Paua To Avoid won 26 races from 72 starts, including a dead heat with Split Image in the 2016 G2 Vince Curry Memorial (520m) at Ipswich.
Amazingly, she won four of seven starts after whelping the Fernando Bale litter and won a couple of races after whelping her second litter (by Banjo Boy).
Palmer was actively involved in greyhound racing during the ’80s and ’90s, but only returned to the sport around five years ago.
Much of his time during the hiatus was taken up with running a home insulation business and as a shareholder in Port Melbourne’s Cricketer’s Arms Hotel.
“I started going to the Sandown dogs as a 15-year-old and later became a close friend with legendary Cranbourne trainer George ‘Ned’ Bryant,” Palmer said.
“I’ve always loved the dogs, and when I got a little bit of money behind me, I purchased five acres at Caldermeade and tried to get my hands on some well-bred stock.”
Meanwhile, Paua To Avoid has a third litter – a repeat mating to Fernando Bale – comprising one dog and nine bitches which are four months old. And youngster Rhonda Lily, a member of her second litter (by Banjo Boy), has already won two races from only six starts.