Chris Tilley describes So They Say as “37 kilograms of pup” but the Sale trainer didn’t hesitate to throw the lightly-raced youngster in at the deep end in the Group 3 Healesville Cup earlier this month.
Tilley’s judgement was vindicated when So They Say won his Healesville Cup heat at just his tenth start before running a close fifth in the final to Myrniong And All after blowing the start.
“He was the youngest dog in the Healesville Cup field and he lost it at the start,” said Chris Tilley.
“He missed it a length and a half and you can’t get away with that in Group races.
“But he’s learning and I think next year will be good.
“He’s still a big, green puppy – he’s 37 kilograms of pup – and he’s probably about 12 months old in his head. He just wants to play with you. He sulks if you put him in the back of the van instead of the front.
“He’s a dog diva but you can’t be a diva unless you’ve got some ability.”
Last Sunday So They Say made his debut at his home track of Sale and relished the drop in grade, winning a Restricted 3-6 Win heat over 440m in a smart 25.12s, his sixth win from 12 starts.
WATCH: So They Say win from box one at Sale last weekend.
While the homebred son of El Grand Senor and Okawa In Black moves from the rails to box five for Sunday’s final (race 6 to jump at 7.12pm), Tilley expects him to continue the promising start to his career.
“He’s just got to beat the box,” Tilley said.
“Last week was only the third time he’d seen Sale but he’s trialled tremendous times around there.
“I’ll look at keeping him on one-turn tracks until he puts it altogether. He’s fairly strong over the 450m and I think he’ll get the 500m without many worries.”
Tilley trained successfully in NSW, where he enjoyed a close association with the great Allen Wheeler, and his decision to belatedly return to the sport after retiring from the workforce is already paying dividends.
“I used to train for other people but that lost its shine,” Tilley quipped.
“That’s the great thing about owning So They Say with the family; I only have to please myself!
“I trained full-time in Sydney for about 12 years but then I found out that the government paid a lot better!
“We won Group races up in Sydney but they weren’t called Group races at that stage. Allen Wheeler gave me a lot of help in the early days and gave me a lot of dogs to train. Allen and Paul had the same theory – feed big and work the dogs hard.
“I retired to Sale and the family said I needed a hobby. Next thing I had a brood bitch!
“We bought So They Say’s mother, Okawa In Black, off Ian Garland with a view to being a brood bitch. Okawa In Black’s mother, Magic Potion, was a litter sister to Fabregas and Barcia Bale bitches seem to throw on.
“There’s not a lot between So They Say and the others in the litter. You could probably throw a tea towel over four of them. Okawa In Black has had a second litter to Magic Sprite and we’re thinking about Fernando Bale for her next litter.”