PETER and Jodie Lagogiane are gearing up for a massive weekend of greyhound racing with runners in two separate group events.
The prominent Llandilo trainer duo will be represented by Shallay Pallay (Barcia Bale x Set To Shine Jul ’15) in the Group 1 Vic Peters Classic at Wentworth Park on Saturday night and Paua To Rush (Barcia Bale x Paua To Terrify Mar ’14) in the Group 3 Gawler Gold Cup in South Australia on Sunday.
Shallay Pallay qualified for the $75,000 to the winner Vic Peters Classic when winning his semi-final of the series last weekend, recording an equal best of night 29.93 over the 520m distance.
The black dog, a winner of seven of his 21 starts, has been a handy chaser for Lagogiane and his owner, George Tsohalis, racing competitively in several feature series’ so far including the Group 2 Black Top at The Gardens and the Group 1 Maturity Classic at The Meadows.
“He is no champion, but he is a good honest dog and he always has a go,” Lagogiane told Australian Racing Greyhound.
“He is only lightly raced – we haven’t pushed him – but he has been to Melbourne for a bit of experience and handled himself well down there and proven he is good enough to race in these Classic races.
“He isn’t up there with the elite dogs, but he has managed to break 30 seconds at Wentworth Park a few times now and not many dogs seem to be able to do that with the way the tracks are these days.”
Shallay Pallay will face a tough field in the final including star Victorians Crash Bandicoot (Collision x J’s Robin Jul ’15) and Chasin’ Crackers (Fabregas x Lady Arko Aug ’15) as well as Group 1 National Sprint finalist Bekin Street (Bekim Bale x Serisier Street Sep ’15).
However, the 33-kilogram greyhound appears well drawn in box two.
“Chasin’ Crackers can really run and and Crash Bandicoot is racing quite well too – but there is eight worthy finalists in the race and they all have a chance.
“The start is going to be crucial. But he does have a fair beginner on his inside and a wide runner on his outside.
“He is a hit and miss beginner, but when he times it right he can run the early sections and he has got a nice run home on him too.
“If he can begin well and find the fence early he can definitely run a race.”
Less than 24 hours after Shallay Pallay competes in the Vic Peters Classic, kennel mate Paua To Rush will exit box six in the Group 3 Gawler Gold Cup over 531m.
The 12-time winner, which is being looked after in SA by Ray Fewings, ran a big second in his heat off box four after missing the kick.
“I was pleasantly surprised with how he went. His owner is from Adelaide and told us that he’d love to see him competing in a nice race over there, so we set him for the Gawler Cup as he is a pretty strong dog,” Lagogiane said.
“He went down there a week before the heats and he trialled well. He was beaten by back luck in his heat and although he needs to be on the inside he has done a great job to make the final.”
A win in either final would continue the great run of form Jodie and Peter have experienced since returning from Dubai in December 2016.
The Lagogiane family found themselves overseas for two years when Peter accepted a position training greyhounds for the Crown Prince of Dubai.
“I was first approached about three and a half years ago but I knocked back the offer,” Lagogiane recalled.
“A few months later they made another offer. They flew me over there for a week to check it all out and while it was great, I didn’t think at the time it was for me as I had a young family.
“Two months later they asked me again and at the time we had just lost a few nice group dogs to salmonella poisoning.
“It was the straw that broke the camel’s back – I took it as an omen so we decided to pack up and give it a go.”
Racing in Dubai is seasonal due to the extreme weather, with the greyhound bred for endurance. Lagogiane said while it was completely different to racing in Australia, it was still an invaluable experience.
“I am glad I did it – it’s something I will never forget,” he said.
“I think it made me a better trainer too. The dogs are very different to those we have over here – they have to be tough and seasoned to that sort of environment.
“They believe in long distance racing too – it’s not uncommon for dogs over there to run 1km.”
Ultimately, Peter and Jodie, who have two young children, made the decision to return home to Australia to be closer to their families.
It took a few months for them to build up their kennel upon arriving back in Sydney, but 2017 has turned out to be a ripper – winning the Group 3 Magic Maiden with Blitzing Lass (Milldean Panther x Miss Blockbuster Apr ’15) and qualifying for the Group 1 Peter Mosman Classic with Set To Storm (Barcia Bale x Set To Shine Jul ’15).
“It took a while – a lot of people didn’t realise we were back and the dogs have been racing in Jodie’s maiden name so it caused a bit of confusion,” Lagogiane explained.
“But we are starting to build a nice team up now and they are racing very well at the moment.”