*feature image of Rajasthan and connections courtesy of Kurt Donsberg Photography.
Young South Australian owner Tim Aloisi has developed an amazing knack for purchasing tried greyhounds in recent years and he’s hoping his astute eye will reap the ultimate reward in Friday night’s Group 1 RSN Sandown Cup Final.
Aloisi (pictured sixth from left), 31, and fellow owners Matt Lehman, Damien Bates and Mick McSorley are heading to Melbourne hoping their $31 outsider Rajasthan can cause a surprise in the world’s richest staying event.
Since the syndicate bought Rajasthan in January, the son of Kinloch Brae has won seven of his 14 starts for Lara trainer Rob Camilleri and earned a shot at the Sandown Cup’s $175,000 winner’s purse with an all-the-way 41.99s heat victory last Thursday.
“His name stood out and earlier in his career I used to watch the dog run around at Traralgon,” Tim Aloisi recalled.
“I thought he had a bit of potential – at one stage he won nine or ten in a row – so I kept an eye on him to see what he did when they took him to town.
“He had a couple of chances and didn’t go so well. His form dropped off a bit so I contacted the owner and decided to pounce.”
With defending champion Tornado Tears dominating Sandown Cup betting at $1.80, Aloisi is well aware of the enormity of the task facing Rajasthan and he’s realistic about his chances of celebrating a breakthrough Group 1 victory.
“We’ve won a couple of Group 3s but we haven’t been able to win a Group 1 yet, although Chrichton Bale ran second in the Sale Cup and Shima Breeze made this year’s Australian Cup Final,” Aloisi said.
“It’s exciting to be in a Sandown Cup but Tornado Tears is a freak of a dog and he’ll obviously be pretty hard to beat.
“I’m happy with box seven. I would’ve preferred box eight but seven is next best. He’s won his last two starts from box seven, including a 42.20s run at The Meadows, which is only about four lengths off the track record.
“He can be a funny dog but if he rocks up on Friday and he’s switched on, his best is up there with anything. If he could run top three we’d be absolutely stoked.”
Aloisi and Matt Lehman enjoyed their most prolific year as owners in 2018, racing an incredible 171 winners, the majority coming in their home state of South Australia.
They’ve already racked up 81 winners this year but have decided on a major shift in their focus; opting to concentrate on Victoria.
“We recently shifted three dogs – Shima Breeze, Shima Mart and Shimando – to Victoria because there were limited options in South Australia,” Aloisi explained.
“But unfortunately Shima Breeze arrived very ill and it doesn’t look like she’ll race again.
“We’ve decided that our dogs will more so start off in Melbourne and Adelaide will be our fall-back.
“There’s better racing opportunities in Victoria, more tracks, and in Adelaide you win a grade 5 and you’re free-for-all, so we end up with three of our dogs racing against each other, which is pointless.
“We’re stepping up the breeding and we’ll probably breed two litters a year and continue buying race dogs.
We’ve got a 13-month-old Barcia Bale – Panda Bale litter that we’re excited about and we’ve just put Panda Bale to Fernando Bale.
“My criteria when I’m looking at buying a race dog is that for me times are everything. It’s all about times, splits and run-homes, rather than results and form. I want to know what a dog does when it’s in front, when it’s behind and when it cops a check.
“We really love stayers too. Ever since I’ve been in greyhounds, 700m dogs are what has interested me the most but they’re hard to get!”