The Group 2 Sky Racing Topgun Stayers was supposed to be all about champion Fanta Bale’s bid to become only the third Australian greyhound to break the million dollar prizemoney barrier.
But young South Australian trainer Ben Rawlings and his $21.90 outsider Bogie Bekim were reading from a different script as they gate-crashed Fanta Bale’s Saturday night party.
The $75,000 to-the-winner 725m invitational appeared to be going to plan when the Robert Britton-trained Fanta Bale, the $2.60 favourite, began brilliantly from box five, but while the nine-time Group winner opened up a big lead, roughie Bogie Bekim loomed ominously approaching the home turn.
While mighty mare Winx staved off Humidor to create Cox Plate history earlier in the day, Fanta Bale wasn’t able to repel Bogie Bekim’s storming finish, going under by one length in 42.62sec, denying her entry to the exclusive millionaires’ club, alongside fellow Wheeler-bred superstars Fernando Bale and Dyna Double One, for the time being at least.
“He’s normally tardy early but is a bit of a front-running stayer once he gets going. When he got to third tonight I thought he’d at least run a place,” said a delighted Ben Rawlings.
“I’ve had an involvement in greyhounds since I was a kid, as my grandparents trained greyhounds, although they lived four hours away from me. I’m 26 years old and took up training greyhounds on a serious scale about four years ago.
“I train full time and it has meant a lot of sacrifices. I don’t get out with my mates too often!”
The Topgun Stayers was Bogie Bekim’s second feature victory in 2017, with the former Queenslander having handed Rawlings his first Group 1 victory when winning the Galaxy at Cannington in February.
It was the well-travelled son of Bekim Bale and Bogie Skye’s second appearance in an invitation-only event at The Meadows, having run fifth to Burn One Down in the Group 1 Zoom Top in February.
He was also runner-up in the Group 1 Association Cup and represented South Australia in the National Distance Championship.
Owner/breeder Les Bein is no stranger to Group 1 glory at The Meadows, with his champion sprinter Bogie Leigh winning the Australian Cup in 2004.
“Bogie Bekim won the Galaxy and I brought him down here during the Australian Cup Carnival where he raced twice but was unplaced both times,” Rawlings said.
“But I think that stood him in good stead tonight as he had at least seen the track before.
“The owner Les Bein lives in Queensland and I met him while on holiday in Brisbane a few years ago.”
*This article was compiled by Gerard Guthrie and Andrew Copley.