COSI Dagostino’s pleas to owner Anthony Messina to keep Lini Danco in his Banjup kennel paid off on Saturday night when the talented bitch scored a super victory in the Group 2 WA Oaks (520m) at Cannington.
The dark brindle speedster joined Dagostino’s kennel at the beginning of the year and has won five of her 12 starts in the west. Despite that, the daughter of Swift Fancy and Magic Moves came close to making the trip back to NSW – which ultimately would have cost her Saturday’s $40,000 winner’s cheque.
“I got her to train through a mutual friend who knew her owner Anthony Messina,” Dagostino told Australian Racing Greyhound.
“He decided to send her over here to try and get a bit of confidence up – she has showed plenty of ability since she has been here but she had no luck at Mandurah when I took her there for the Mandurah Oaks from bad boxes.
“Luckily since she’s been at Cannington she has had a few nice draws, but then about four weeks ago Anthony wanted to get her back over to NSW because she wasn’t running out the 520m very strongly.
“Luckily I convinced him to let her stay for the WA Oaks and she has repaid us for having the faith in her.”
A winner of 10 from 29, Lini Danco qualified for the race after running second in her heat behind Moment To Rumba, however Dagostino says he was confident the 26kg pocket rocket could go one better in the decider.
“I was happy with her going into the race – I thought her heat run was good because it was a heavy track and she drew wide.
“She had to do plenty of work and it just didn’t suit her, but I knew she was capable of running better once she got back to a fast track.
“She proved me right – it was incredible to win, especially the way that she did.
“In those types of races, you’d be happy to win by a nose, but she came out running and just dominated.”
The margin on the line was three lengths, with Lini Danco clocking 29.88 when defeating Moment To Jive and race favourite West On Maisie.
It was the biggest victory of Dagostino’s career as a trainer, although he did own a WA Greyhound of the Year in the 1990s.
“We owned a grocery store in the 1990s and there was a bloke who used to come in and get all the old vegetables to make up a stew,” Dagostino recalled.
“One-day day I asked him what he was making the stew for and he told me it was for his greyhounds – about six months later I asked him how much it cost to get involved and it went from there.
“In the mid 90s I owned a bitch called Storm Act who was trained by Joe Panetta and she won a Greyhound of the Year – she made a heap of finals and ran third in the Perth Cup.
“In 1997 I decided to take out my own trainer’s licence and it has just continued to go on from there.
“Saturday’s win was my biggest in 20 years as a trainer – those few minutes after she won were so exciting – we were jumping up and down and hugging each other.”
Dagostino also praised his family for the success, with four sons and his wife Heather helping out at home.
“I have plenty of help from my 12-year-old son Luke – he loves the dogs and he is a great judge for his age – he can tell you if a dog is sore or if they are not going to the toilet properly – he is a great young trainer in the making.
“I also get help from my wife Heather – she deserves a medal for putting up with us – as well as my three other sons, Jacob, Josh and David.”