Stefano Cassar (pictured) has only been living in Australia three years and training greyhounds for just one year but he’s dreaming of celebrating the most unlikely of Group 1 victories at Sandown Park on Friday night.
On Australian greyhound racing’s night of nights, Cassar, 34, is chasing a fairy tale triumph in the $100,000 to-the-winner Bold Trease (715m) with rookie stayer Caco Potion, the very first greyhound he’s owned or trained.
“I immigrated to Australia three years ago and my dream was to own some land,” Stefano explained.
“You can’t have land in Malta because it’s only 27 kilometres from one end to the other. Buying ten acres with a property like I have now would be impossible.
“I was involved in training horses back in Malta and my plan was to get into the horses when I came to Australia but it was a bit difficult. Then a friend suggested getting into the greyhounds and I thought that might be a good idea.”
Caco Potion leading the way in the Group One Bold Trease Heat last Friday night at Sandown Park.
After whetting his greyhound racing appetite with several visits to Ballarat, Cassar fatefully decided to buy a four-month old pup for the bargain price of $1000.
“Caco Potion is the first greyhound I ever bought,” Cassar said.
“The litter was bred by Allan Gutterson and it was the first litter Allan had bred as well.
“After I bought Caco Potion I also bought another pup from a different litter for $1000. Her name is Cacoethes but unfortunately she broke down after ten starts. We’ve kept her at home and we might breed a litter with her.
“Caco Potion has just kept improving and improving and he’s at his peak at the moment, winning five of his last seven starts.”
While Caco Potion’s recent form is impressive, last Friday’s Bold Trease heats represented a monumental rise in class and he started a $32 outsider, just the second time in his 47-start career he’d been tested over 700m.
But Cassar’s gutsy gamble to throw his distance novice in at the deep end paid off handsomely as he led throughout in 42.19sec.
“I never thought I would be in this position. I only dreamed it might happen,” Stefano said.
“When he won his heat I couldn’t believe it to be honest. My first time in a Group 1 heat and to win it was amazing. When I decided to put him in the heats I wasn’t sure what would happen. In the back of my mind I was thinking other trainers might say why did this trainer put this dog in the race? But here we are!
“I don’t know what will happen on Friday night. I will do my best to prepare him and I would love to run a place, but I’m just happy to be in the race.”
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