The Thompson kennel’s remarkable love affair with the Feikuai Greyhounds Silver Chief continued at The Meadows on Friday night when hot favourite Out Of Range was a dominant all-the-way winner of the Group 1 Classic.
Out Of Range is trained by Seona Thompson, whose husband Jason boasts five Silver Chief victories, courtesy of Light Of Fire (1994), Awesome Assassin (1996), Ben’s Fury (2005), Fedex (2009) and Godsend (2012).
However, it was a Group 1 first for Darren Puleio and his father Michael, who bred and race the sensational Fernando Bale – Nicki Fields litter, headlined by Out Of Range.
“We’ve bred and owned a lot of city winners over the years, but the best dogs we bred were Boris Fields and Xtreme Knocka, who we sold as pups,” Darren explained.
“So this is the biggest race we’ve been involved in as owners, and it’s a huge thrill.”
After a 30.17sec heat victory, Out Of Range ran second in his semi-final, but started $2.40 favourite in 2018’s first Group 1 event, courtesy of a rails draw and an imposing six from eight record over The Meadows’ 525m course.
Out Of Range took full advantage of his prized inside alley to hold the lead in the all-important charge to the first turn.
While Out Of Range wasn’t able to break clear, he kept kicking strongly to repel Degani ($5.90) by .79 of a length in 29.83sec, eclipsing his previous personal best of 29.90sec at The Meadows, with Fast Car Driving ($12.60) close up in third.
Out Of Range’s litter brother and kennelmate Poke The Bear was first reserve for the Silver Chief and while he missed a shot at the $100,000 winner’s purse, Poke The Bear set The Meadows alight earlier in the night when coming from the rear of the field to clock a scintillating 29.71sec in the free-for-all.
Out Of Range has now won nine of his 14 starts, while Poke The Bear has won 10 from 16.
“We named Out Of Range after Kelvin Jones, who is here tonight. Kelvin has been training for us for a lot of years (in conjunction with Gerry O’Keeffe), and he has had a bit to do with this dog. His phone is always out of range,” Darren Puleio laughed.
“I only breed one or two litters a year because I work full-time running Ram Security, which sponsors the Cranbourne and Warragul greyhound clubs.
“I breed the litters at my property in Langwarrin, which is almost five acres in size, and then I send them to dad at 10 months of age. He lives in Mulgrave (in suburban Melbourne), where he gets them used to traffic by walking the streets with them. Then we send them to a breaker, they go back to dad for pre-training and then finally we send them off to be trained.”
Just eight minutes after Out Of Range’s Silver Chief triumph, Melbourne Cup hero Aston Dee Bee enhanced an already unforgettable night for Seona Thompson when extending his winning streak to eight in the Group 2 TAB Warragul Cup heats.
The Warragul 460m record holder, Aston Dee Bee ($1.20) also had the benefit of box one as he led throughout in 25.49sec, romping to an 8.36 length victory over Peter Galo.
*This article was compiled by Gerard Guthrie and Andrew Copley.