Mat Eccles will forever be haunted by a missed opportunity to buy into the ownership of star thoroughbred Mugatoo – and understandably so – but 2019 National Greyhound Draft graduate Hushing Dusk is helping to ease the multi-million dollar pain.
Eccles, 41, had a choice between two horses; Mugatoo, which has won in excess of $3 million prizemoney, including a monster $2.3 million payday in the All Star Mile in March, and Rockabill, which didn’t win a race after being imported to Australia.
But undeterred, Eccles (pictured above right) received a massive thrill recently when he was trackside at The Meadows to see Hushing Dusk, a daughter of super sire Barcia Bale, raced by Team RSN and trained by Ian Garland, open her city account.
“I had dogs in my 20s – I’ve had a few slow ones – and Hushing Dusk was the first live winner I’ve seen in 20 years,” said Eccles.
“The last time was Brooker’s Law winning a maiden at Sale on Australia Day in 2001.
“The Australian Open was on at the time and it was Wimbledon this time so maybe it’s tennis related!”
Mat and his mates also experienced ownership misfortune in the inaugural NGD in 2018, when they tried unsuccessfully to join Team Cameron.
This meant they missed out on racing the Angela Langton-trained Wallbanger, winner of 20 races and a G1 finalist (Rookie Rebel) and G2 placegetter (McKenna Memorial).
Eccles is part of a four-member syndicate involved in Team RSN, joined by good friend Rick George, as well as Jordan Powell and Jake Keogh, the latter two coached by Mat in Ringwood’s U19 football side several years ago.
“The boys blame me for missing out on Mugatoo and Wallbanger so I might be on my last chance!” Eccles laughed.
“But I’m trying to work out which one of them is the jinx!
“In the first year of the draft we were with Team Lagogiane and had a dog called Rock Solid, which won at Wentworth Park.
“But then COVID came along and we couldn’t watch him race up in Sydney so we wanted to be with a local trainer the second time.
“Two of our syndicate members were at The Meadows when Hushing Dusk won and then all of us were at Sandown last Sunday but unfortunately she didn’t win, which is usually what happens!
“She was a bit unlucky but the four of us had lunch and a few beers and made a day of it, which is what it’s all about.
“We love the thrill of being in the syndicate. We actually had three winners in a week – Hushing Dusk won at Bendigo and The Meadows and Sassy Izzy won at Gawler – which was awesome.
“I’d absolutely be involved in the draft concept again. With the three dogs, if one isn’t good enough you have another two opportunities and it’s a lot more affordable than horse racing.”
All three greyhounds in Team RSN have won; Hushing Dusk (4 from 12), Sassy Izzy (2 from 13) and Burning Up (1 from 4).
Hushing Dusk will be back in action at Sandown on Thursday night in race 5 over 595m, where she’s prominent in TAB betting at $3.10.
Breeding expert George Farrugia, who was heavily involved in the National Draft process, said discussions are ongoing between GRV and GRNSW regarding moving forward with syndications but there is no concrete direction at this point.
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