Young superstar Hard Style Rico has reached greyhound racing’s Group 1 zenith three times, and has been unlucky on each occasion – Silver Chief (6th), National Derby (4th) and Australian Cup (7th).
But it could be ‘lucky at last’ for Hard Style Rico in the Group 2 CKH Painting Shepparton Cup final over 450 metres on Saturday night at 9.15pm.
Bred, owned and trained by Luckie Karabitsakos in Pearcedale, south-east of Melbourne, Hard Style Rico set a new track record in a Shepparton Cup heat last Monday night.
He clocked a mind-boggling 24.77sec, which sliced around one length off a longstanding 24.82sec mark jointly held by former stars Slater (December 2006) and Cape Hawke (January 2012).
And the gargantuan performance didn’t totally surprise Karabitsakos.
“Without being cocky, it was only a matter of time… He’d previously given the Ballarat 450m record a shake; he just has that type of ability,” Karabitsakos said.
Karabitsakos is also mildly confident Hard Style Rico can land the final’s $47,000 first prize.
“I’m happy with box eight, and with a clear run he’ll give it a crack… But he’s still learning the caper,” Karabitsakos added.
“And there’s a couple of dogs that are also well boxed – the ‘red’ (Jebrynah – Box 1) is drawn to be competitive and so is the ‘check’ (Rothwell Gal – Box 2), and then champion Whiskey Riot (Box 7) is also in the field.”
Karabitsakos also expects Hard Style Rico to be right in the thick of things from box rise. “He’s drawn extremely well and will be ‘up there’ in the early stages,” he said.
One of the fastest greyhounds in the land, Hard Style Rico has notched nine wins from only 17 starts. And already he’s the punters’ elect in the final at $2.40, followed by Whiskey Riot ($2.90) and Jebrynah ($3.60).
A former tow truck operator, Karabitsakos got into training greyhounds in a serious way when his father, Frank, passed away, leaving behind a couple of greyhounds.
Karabitsakos says Hard Style Rico is “cool, calm and collected” at home, but “seems to know when he’s going racing” and “switches on from the time he comes out of his kennel”.
WATCH: WATCH: Hard Style Rico (8) set a 450m track record in a G2 Shepparton Cup heat running 24.77sec.
LISTEN: Form experts George Farrugia and Jason Adams preview greyhound racing’s Group 2 CKH Painting Shepparton Cup, and they’ve both decided to tip against the hot favourite HARD STYLE RICO despite his track record heat run.