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Playing Ball

Mario Briganti didn’t train a winner at last Saturday’s Australian Cup night at The Meadows, but he had a ball regardless.

Based on the Mornington Peninsula at Tuerong, Briganti’s team produced a fifth placing in the Group 1 ATC Insurance Australian Cup (Emrys) as well as the runner-up in Group 3 GRV Vic Breeders (Angie Rocks).

Incidentally, Briganti reared both greyhounds, and he believes a major factor in their success comes back to their upbringing.

“It’s critical to spend a lot of time with your pups when they are being reared. I rear my pups in groups from four months of age to about nine months in a paddock about ¾ of an acre in size. Greyhounds are pack animals, and I believe that rearing them in a pack is how they are meant to be raised,” Briganti said.

Briganti, 49, said that a regular introduction to props such as footballs and soccer balls helps pups to break-in more easily.

“Pups will chase just about anything, and they love it. It’s a game to them. If they’re left alone in a paddock and not given much attention or anything to play with it’s obviously harder for them to break-in because chasing something (the lure) will be foreign to them.”

“Adapting to running around a track is so much easier if they’ve been introduced to chasing things like a ball from a young age. And they’ll chase just about anything you give them. I’ll give my pups squeaky toys or old shoes to play with…even footballs and soccer balls. Anything they can play around with,” he said.

Once his pups hit about nine months of age, Briganti will remove them from paddock-life and place them in long runs.

“In the last three months of rearing before being broken-in I’ll put them in runs that are 120m long x 8m wide so they can really stretch out when they run.”

“There is a bath at the end of each run, so every morning before I get started with them I’ll have a cup of coffee and watch them belt up and down five or six times before they jump in the bath and then run up and down a few more times. If you work it out they end up running about 1000 metres, so it’s a great work out,” he said.

The 2015 Australian Cup night is a memory Briganti cherishes.

“Emrys ran a great race when you consider he was blocked for a run early and still managed to run fifth. I’ll now get him ready for the (Group 1) Golden Easter Egg (in Sydney),” he said.

“Angie Rocks was probably overawed by the lights of the big occasion and blew the start completely. She has a huge motor though and her next mission will be the Launching Pad at Sandown Park.”

“Her litter brother Express Pace beat her in the GRV Vic Breeders, and he was at my place until four or five months of age so it gave me a lot of satisfaction to have a hand in a few greyhounds at group level on Australian Cup night.”

Briganti hinted he had a number of promising unraced pups at home and it would be no surprise to see him continue to have an influence on the group racing scene over the coming years.


Watch: Emrys (5) runs fifth but could be considered unlucky not to have run a place.

Watch: Angie Rocks (6) flashes home to run second behind litter brother Express Pace (5).

Pics by Clint Anderson.

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