Young South Australian owner Tim Aloisi had double cause for celebration when Shima Breeze set Sandown Park alight in Sunday afternoon’s heat of the Group 2 Laurels.
Shima Breeze, trained by premier SA mentor Tony Rasmussen, claimed time honours in the opening round of the $50,000 to-the-winner Laurels with a scorching 29.32sec performance, eclipsing series favourite and Melbourne Cup runner-up Black Opium.
It was also a fitting stage for Tim Aloisi to reach a remarkable milestone, with the superbly-bred Shima Breeze, a daughter of the great Fernando Bale and outstanding producer Shimaguni, incredibly his 150th winner for 2018.
But greyhound racing is about much more than winners and prizemoney for the 31-year-old, who races his dogs in partnership with footballing mate Matt Lehman.
Aloisi credits his relatively newfound passion for the sport with helping him overcome post-traumatic stress disorder after he suffered third degree burns to 25 per cent of his body in a work accident in 2010.
“After my accident I was a bit down on life and greyhound racing helped get me through a pretty tough period,” Aloisi explained.
“I knew absolutely nothing about greyhounds but my uncle had a couple of dogs and he was always really excited when they were racing so I decided to go out and buy one. That got me started and when you get a taste of it you want better and faster.
“This is the best year we’ve had. We’ve never cracked 100 winners before, although about three years ago we got close. About half-way through this year we were getting close to 100 and I said to Matt (Lehman) that we might even get up to 150.
“Getting our 150th winner in a heat of the Laurels was a very good place to do it!
“But we don’t do it for the fame or the money. It’s just for the fun and we reinvest every dollar we make back into the industry. I really feel that I owe greyhound racing because it helped get me out of a pretty dark place after my accident.”
Aloisi’s success has been built off his astute knack for purchasing tried dogs from interstate and that’s the case with Laurels contender Shima Breeze, which started her racing career in Victoria, where she won one of her first six starts.
But she’s been a revelation in SA, winning nine of her last 14 starts and finishing runner-up in the other five, including to kennelmate Honcho Monelli in the Group 3 Gawler Cup in November, where Aloisi tasted Group glory for the first time.
“We didn’t have any expectations at all when we bought Shima Breeze. We bought her purely for breeding,” Aloisi said.
“I’ve got a really good relationship with George Dailly and George rang me up and said he had a bitch that I should consider buying. I took George’s advice and we’ve also bought three of her brothers; Shimando, Shima Deal and Shima Mart.
“This little girl has got a lot of talent and she’s improved out of sight for us. She runs one-two every week. Obviously a lot of the credit has to go to Tony and Lisa (Rasmussen). They do a lot of work to make sure their dogs are switched on.”
Shima Breeze made a triumphant return to her home state when setting the pace in the Laurels heats and after drawing box one for this Sunday’s semi-finals, Aloisi is quietly confident about advancing to the prestigious female feature.
“She’s never had box one for us but if she can begin like she did in her heat – 4.99 – she should be off and gone,” Aloisi said.
“She trials 29.50 at Angle Park, which I think is the equivalent of a 29.30 run at Sandown, so her time didn’t surprise me on Sunday.
“We’d be rapt just to make the Laurels Final. Anything else would be a bonus but if she was able to run top three in the final we’d be absolutely stoked.”