They?re off...like a jack out of the box

By Adam Hicks

A balding man in $2 thongs holds the key to Jack Russell racing: a 50-cent piece of fluff the size of a rat.

In the greyhound game it's called a lure ? that which entices a canine to chase.

Usually it's a toy rabbit that motors around the rail.

But on an overcast day at the Lismore greyhound track last Thursday, it's a bit of fluff winched down the straight by a 4WD.

This is the NSW selection trials for the Jack Russell State of Origin.

Six little dogs sit in six little boxes and the balding man fondles the fluff.

He gives them a sniff and pulls it away.

The idea is to tease them so they want it; so they focus; so when their barrier opens fluff is all they see.

About 15 dogs have come, and most are 'home' dogs. Aunt Patsy's pretty pooches are more likely to bark at a seagull than chase the prize.

So the balding man shakes it to sort out the bunch.

After three weeks of trials, three dogs are picked to wear NSW blue: Blast of Nashua, Bosun of Ballina and Casino's racing wonder dog, Willis.

Blast is focused.

"Others get distracted, but Blasty goes. The others could be fighting around her, but she'll keep going. She just runs right through them," said owner Brian Deacon.

Bosun, 2, is mature beyond his years.

"When he hears the wire moving he's watching in the pen. He crouches up, gets his feet ready to go, waiting for it," said owner Rod Fraser.

Willis, 5, is the seasoned campaigner.

"He may not be the fastest, but he doesn't like anything in front of him," owner John Schultz said.

Event organiser Narelle Warren said they were all worthy contenders.

"They're really keen...they know what their job is," she said. "Like any champion they have to perform under pres- sure ? like Thorpey."



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