General Destini ($4.60) began only fairly before taking full advantage of his favourable box 1 draw to rail strongly and camp behind early leader and race favourite Cape Hawke ($2.80) through the first turn.
Entering the back straight, Cape Hawke faltered, allowing General Destini to take the lead. Despite being the least experienced greyhound in the field, ‘The General’ showed great tenacity to hold off multiple Group race finalist David Bale ($9.40) by 1.75 lengths in a race record 23.32.
“We’re very proud of the dog,” said an overwhelmed Rinaldi. “He’s come a long way.”
The win was General Destini’s ninth in 21 career starts, and the $75,000 first prize took his career earnings to $108,005.
It was also the biggest win of Rinaldi’s short training career. Rinaldi returned from a holiday from the United States with two brood bitches from which he bred two litters. The resulting 22 pups have all broken their maiden status, and General Destini is the second to secure a Group victory following Five Paws’ win in the Group 3 Launching Pad, also at Sandown Park.
Despite claiming to be ‘just a hobby trainer, trying to compete with the big boys,’ Rinaldi has now won 34 races at Sandown Park in 2012, the third highest number of winners behind the leviathan kennels of Andrea Dailly and Graeme Bate.
Victoria wide, Rinaldi has trained 48 winners, the seventh highest number of winners of any trainer in the state.
The Harrison-Dawson is named of three of Sandown Park’s finest servants; Henry Harrison who served as Sandown Chairman for 23 years; his daughter and life member Loretta; and son-in-law and current Sandown Chairman Geoff Dawson, who celebrate 25 years as Chairman in 2012.
The Jamie Ennis trained Cape Hawke, who was looking all over the winner of race, was high balling out in front down the back straight and looked certain to secure his 18th win from just 31 starts when tragedy struck and the 34kg black dog quickly dropped back through the field and pulled up.
It was later revealed the one time Sandown 515m track record holder had injured a hock, and although the extent of the injury at this time remains uncertain, it looks almost certain to be career ending for the promising greyhound.