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Puleio Hooked on superstar feeling

Darren Puleio has struck greyhound racing gold for the second time with Hooked On Scotch; however the proud owner/breeder won’t compare his Group 1 Adelaide Cup hero with superstar half-brother Poke The Bear.

Poke The Bear won five of his first 10 starts and went on to win 37 from 69 overall, highlighted by the Group 1 Topgun, while he also won the Group 2 Traralgon Cup, Group 3 Silver Bullet and Group 3 Sandown Speed Star.

Hooked On Scotch improved his record to six from 10 with his unforgettable Adelaide Cup triumph last Friday, having already emulated Poke The Bear when taking out the Group 3 Speed Star at just his eighth start.

“You know what, I never compare dogs,” said Darren Puleio, who bred and races Hooked On Scotch in partnership with his father Michael.

“They’ve got different personalities and different traits and I just take each dog on its own merits.”

Hooked On Scotch had an extremely tough act to follow in Poke The Bear but he wasted absolutely no time making a name for himself.

A December ’17 son of Barcia Bale and the Puleios’ wonderful producer Nicki Fields, Hooked On Scotch clocked an airborne 29.09s at Sandown Park at start number five.

He then won the Group 3 Sandown Speed Star in a blistering 29.11s on a very wet track before his pulsating Adelaide Cup victory at his tenth appearance.

“It’s frightening how good he’s going to be,” Puleio said.

“It’s very surreal.

“From day one, from break-in, he was trialling times that were just unheard of.

“His first trial at The Meadows he ran 29.80s, first trial at Sandown he went 29.27s and first trial at Geelong he ran 25.49s. Wherever he’s gone he’s trialled sensational times.

“We were all gobsmacked by the buzz that went around Angle Park on Friday night. I’ve probably watched the replay about 33,000 times already.”

“Jason (Thompson) has placed the dog perfectly. In his first couple of starts he got flattened and he needed a bit of experience and to get his confidence back and Jason handled him very well.

“We were a bit dirty about the wet track for the Speed Star. We’ve got no doubt at all he can break the record at Sandown.

“He keeps stepping up and going to the next level. He is a serious, serious dog.”

After stunning match race performances in Sandown’s Speed Star and the State Of Origin series at Angle Park, Hooked On Scotch dispelled any doubts about his effectiveness in a full field in last Friday’s Adelaide Cup Final.

Hooked On Scotch sprouted wings from a seemingly impossible position to defeat fellow Victorians Whiskey Riot and Sennachie in one of the most memorable Group 1 victories in recent memory.

“A great thing about the dog is that he is a drawcard,” Puleio offered.

“We were all gobsmacked by the buzz that went around Angle Park on Friday night.

“I’ve probably watched the replay about 33,000 times already. What he did was mind-boggling.

“The expectation is going to be there now. There’ll be a lot of pressure because people are just going to expect him to win but you and I know that doesn’t happen. He’s a very good dog but he’s not a super hero.

“He’ll head to the Geelong Cup now and probably bypass the Topgun. The main target will be the Melbourne Cup. He’s not two until December so we don’t want to race the guts out of him.

“I get requests for straws every day and have done since he won the Speed Star. That’s not going to happen at this point but I’ve got no doubt he’s got a stud career; he cemented that in the Adelaide Cup.”

WATCH: Hooked On Scotch (1) comes from the clouds to win the 2019 Adelaide Cup.

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Gerard Guthrie
About Gerard Guthrie - One of Australia's leading greyhound racing journalists since 2000 with the Greyhound Recorder and now with Greyhound Racing Victoria. Part-owner 2013 Group 1 Paws Of Thunder winner Sheikha. (The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of GRV)
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