Leading NSW trainer Peter Lagogiane has taken immediate advantage of the timely reopening of the Victorian borders to launch an imposing assault on Sunday afternoon’s Group 2 Triple M Bendigo Cup heats (425m).
Greyhound Racing Victoria recommenced accepting interstate nominations this week with Lagogiane jumping on the opportunity to head south with in-form short-coursers Straight Shift (15 wins from 20 starts), Zipper It Mate (10 from 15) and One Fury (six from 17).
“We looked at the race about two months ago, more so for Straight Shift,” said Lagogiane.
“But Zipper It Mate and One Fury, which is the fastest dog to go around Richmond over 400m this year (22.45s), are good dogs too and you’re not going to win anything staying at home so I thought why not.”
While the trio boast outstanding strike rates, they’ll have plenty against them on their first foray outside NSW with Lagogiane declaring it their “acid test”.
“It sounds terrible to say we’re going down to Victoria for a Group race without a trial but due to the COVID situation we didn’t have the chance,” said Lagogiane, who’s based in Western Sydney.
“But I think Bendigo will suit them because they’re speed dogs. They have good box speed, their first sections are really good and they chase.
“Everywhere I’ve taken Straight Shift in particular he’s gone really well first look.”
Straight Shift (box 3) will contest the first of eight cut-throat heats, while Zipper It Mate (3) will tackle Bendigo 425m record holder Jim Zarr Dashian and Tiggerlong Tonk in heat six and One Fury (5) will face the resurgent Shima Shine in the final run-off.
“I trialled the three of them at Richmond on Tuesday morning over 400m and one went sub-22.50s and the other two ran in the 22.50s,” Lagogiane explained.
“I don’t think the track was playing too well and the boys on the track told me I should be really happy with how they went.
“The 425m might be a slight concern for Straight Shift because he hasn’t been beyond 400m but I don’t think the extra 20m should worry him. Zipper It Mate and One Fury have both gone over the 500m.
“I’m probably more concerned about the long journey than the track.
“The furthest they’ve been before is Bull and Maitland but they are good travellers. We’ll drive down overnight on Saturday and make the van as comfortable as possible. I’m more worried about us!
“Anywhere you go in Victoria you’re bound to strike a good one – even in a Grade 5 – but they’re going good enough to be there and it will be a great experience for them.”