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SHEPPARTON CUP: Luckie at last!

He’s been dubbed the “new kid on the block” and the “next big thing”, but X-factor sprinter Hard Style Rico is now the complete package.

It’s fantastic to witness this brilliant young speedster come of age – and take it to another level – within the space of five days.

Bred, owned and trained by Luckie Karabitsakos, Hard Style Rico cemented his rating as one of the best sprinters in Australia when successful in tonight’s Group 2 CKH Painting Shepparton Cup final (450m).

“I’m rapt. He’s gone super tonight. He backed it up from last week which is really important to do… it’s something special,” Karabitsakos said.

“I’ve done it all with this dog from day one. We bred him, educated him and pre-trained him. He was showing good signs from the start.”
And it was fourth time lucky for Hard Style Rico at ‘black type’ level – he had finished unplaced three times in G1 finals.

“He contested three Group 1s prior to this, and he’s still a young dog. He’s only had 18 starts and he’s contested four group races and won one of them now. I think he’s still learning the caper, but it’s starting to come together for him,” Karabitsakos said.

However, the first signs that Hard Style Rico was at the ‘top of his game’ emerged when he set a new track record of 24.77sec in a heat last Monday night.

And it was basically a carbon copy performance in the $47,000-to-the-winner final.

Catapulting from box eight, Hard Style Rico ($2.80) put the race away within the twinkling of an eye, defeating G1 Gold Bullion finalist Snags McKenzie ($30.60) by 2.3L, with dual G1 winner Whiskey Riot ($2.50F) a further 1.14L away third in a sizzling 24.80sec – only a half-length slower than his heat win.

He now holds the two fastest 450m race times ever recorded at Shepparton.

It was Hard Style Rico’s 10th win from 18 starts and his stakes spiralled to $92,610.

“He’s a better two-turn dog but he can handle the horse shoe tracks pretty good too, as we’ve seen in this series,” Karabitsakos said.

“At 13 months old I knew this dog was going to be a group dog. He had his box tonight. He does like to be out wide and doesn’t like dogs coming in on him. But I’m hoping he eventually learns to race just as well from the inside.”

A recent finalist in the G1 Australian Cup, Hard Style Rico (Jan ’18 Bella Infrared x Bella Rico) definitely has the greyhound world at his paws!

WATCH: Breeder, owner & trainer Luckie Karabitsakos shows his elation at landing his first group win with star greyhound HARD STYLE RICO in the Group 2 CKH Painting Shepparton Cup.

WATCH: Hard Style Rico (8) proves too classy in the Shepparton Cup.

Photos by Clint Anderson.

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Peter Quilty
About Peter Quilty - Has more than three decades of experience as assistant editor of Victorian Greyhound Weekly. He was editor of GRV monthly magazine The Adviser (2001-09) and owner/publisher of Australian Greyhound Monthly. He also served on the selection panel for the inaugural GRV ‘Hall of Fame’ inductees and for several years was an adjudicator on the Victorian GOTY. He’s also published greyhound racing yearbooks and wrote the ‘Bold Trease’ video script.
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