Local campaign pays off for Hobby and Neil Monelli

Neil Monelli after his Group 3 Miata win.

DAVE Hobby’s decision to stay home in WA rather than tackling the Group 1 Sale Cup late last year paid off on Saturday night when his promising stayer Neil Monelli (Barcia Bale x Dyna Sandy May ’15) recorded a last stride victory in the Group 3 Miata (715m) at Cannington.

The blue dog was sent to the boxes as the $4.30 second favourite behind Sale Cup hero Quick Jagger (Dyna Nalin x Saving Bundles Jul ’15) and, despite giving the $1.20 favourite a big start, he was able to grind back the margin before hitting the front to salute by one quarter of a length in a track record 41.68.

Hobby, who owns and bred the 33-kilogram powerhouse, said he gave his charge a big shot of upstaging the favourite in the $37,500 race.

“I gave him a good chance – I thought it was a reasonable run in his heat and I thought he might be able to lob a bit closer in the final,” Hobby told Australian Racing Greyhound.

“Even though he was six or seven lengths off Quick Jagger at one stage I thought he was in a good spot – when he railed through into second spot down the back I knew he’d be running on well.”

The winning time eclipsed the previous 41.76 record over the gruelling 715m journey which was established in December by Petunia Monelli (Bella Infrared x Lara Monelli Apr ’15) – a kennelmate to Neil Monelli.

Hobby said he knew Quick Jagger and Neil Monelli both had the potential to lower the record, however he concedes he was shocked by how easily they did so.

“You’d expect Quick Jagger to run fast time – he has the track record over 520 at Cannington and he is a very good dog.

“Obviously the track was in good order, but it did surprise me to see them break it so easily – to go a tenth under the old record was a big effort.”

Neil Monelli has now won 15 races from 43 starts and has earned over $110,000 throughout his reasonably short career.

Hobby said he always hoped the two-and-a-half-year-old would run out a longer journey and said Saturday’s victory – his first over the ‘half-mile’ – affirmed his opinion of Neil Monelli which could be aimed at group glory around the country later in 2018.

“He is not a speedy dog so he does need a bit of luck in his races,” Hobby said.

“He won well over 500 as a young dog, but he found it tough once he started to move through the grades and if you look at his form he never really gets an easy race.

“I decided to step him up and to be honest I wasn’t really impressed with his 600s – he did have excuses – but at his last 600 he showed me he might be looking for a bit further.

“You never know if they are going to stay until you step them up – but he put his best foot forward [on Saturday night] and showed he could be a nice stayer.”