Jason Whybrow received the surprise of his greyhound racing life when Paint Peeler qualified for the Group 3 Great Chase Final with a stunning last-to-first semi-final victory on Wednesday afternoon.
On the drive from Wangaratta to The Meadows, Whybrow and partner Nicole Lummas were just hoping Paint Peeler would run well enough to earn a return trip to Melbourne next Wednesday for a low key 600m Grade 5 affair.
But Paint Peeler, amazingly Whybrow’s first city starter in a training career that began as a Year 10 student back in 1989, had other ideas.
The $27 outsider stormed home to grab well-fancied leader Alamosa Bill in the shadows of the post, claiming her sixth career victory in 30.22s to give Whybrow an unforgettable city breakthrough and his first Group finalist.
WATCH: Paint Peeler win her semi-final of the Great Chase at The Meadows from box six.
“We can’t believe it. It’s grouse!” said 47-year-old Whybrow.
“We didn’t sleep much last night (Wednesday). We’re pumped!”
“We’re supposed to be running in a 600m Grade 5 on Wednesday and instead we’re racing for $47,000 in the Great Chase!
“I wasn’t even thinking of the Great Chase, to tell you the truth. I was looking for a Grade 4 at Bendigo but the Great Chase heats were on so I threw her in and she qualified.
“The couple of times she raced at The Meadows previously she tip-toed her way around so I was just hoping she’d handle the track better and run well enough to come back for a 600m next week.
“She was huge odds but when she was running third I knew she’d storm home. I thought she was going to run second but she really flies that last little bit.
“She’s only just turned two but she definitely wants more ground and we like her over 600m or even a bit further. She just wants to flop out of the boxes and storm home, which is exciting and people love to see.”
Paint Peeler, a daughter of American Monster so named for her affinity for the rails, will once again have to defy the odds in Wednesday afternoon’s Great Chase Final, with TAB installing her as the $51 outsider from box eight.
“The draw is hopeless but it doesn’t bother us at all. We’re just rapt to be there,” Whybrow said.
“She really needed to draw the rails to have any chance. She needs to miss the kick and get all the luck in the world.
“But she never stops chasing and storms home and I’ve been in greyhound racing long enough to know that anything can happen.”
Qualification for the Great Chase caps a remarkable return for Whybrow after a ten-year hiatus from the sport after his hometown Wangaratta GRC closed in 2009, when the tyranny of distance made training very difficult.
“I’ve never had a dog like Paint Peeler before,” Whybrow said.
“Most of the dogs we’ve had were giveaways or cheap buys.
“I decided we weren’t going anywhere buying $1500 dogs off Facebook so when I saw Ashlee Terry advertise Paint Peeler and her sister American Missile as pups I knew Ashlee was a gun so we bought them for $4000. We bought them at four months and reared them ourselves.
“American Missile is nearly as quick as Paint Peeler but she hasn’t got the racing maturity yet, although she’s still won five from 18.
“I’d won a few FFAs in the country but I said I would never go to the city unless I had something that could win.
“Paint Peeler was my first city starter and while she failed at both her previous starts at The Meadows she definitely made up for that yesterday!”
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