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‘Hard’ act for Luckie to follow

After celebrating a dream track record-breaking G1 Melbourne Cup victory with Hard Style Rico last November, Luckie Karabitsakos admits it was always going to be a ‘hard’ act to follow for his second litter out of Bella Rico.

Hard Style Rico, which retired to stud after winning the 2021 Melbourne Cup in a sensational 28.91sec, was a fairy tale home-bred success story for Pearcedale owner/trainer Karabitsakos.

Winner of 21 from 40, also claiming the G2 Shepparton Cup, Hard Style Rico is a son of US sire Bella Infrared and Bella Rico, a litter sister to Black Mumbo, which Luckie’s brother Anthony guided to victory in the 2017 G1 Harrison-Dawson.

For Bella Rico’s second mating, Karabitsakos selected champion sire Barcia Bale and while the first pups from the litter to race haven’t yet lived up to the lofty standards set by their illustrious half-brother, the early signs are promising.

Wing Chun Girl, which has won three of her five starts, became the first to score in the city at her most recent start at The Meadows, leading all-the-way in her heat of the GRV Vic Bred Maiden Series, clocking 30.50sec.

Wing Chun Girl returns to The Meadows in Saturday night’s $10,000 to-the-winner final (Race 2 at 6.58pm), where she’ll exit box six, with Karabitsakos identifying Curator (Box 8), a recent scorching 29.30sec Sandown winner as a major stumbling block.

“I reckon if Wing Chun Girl steps she’ll be hard to beat,” Karabitsakos said.

“The heat was her first run at The Meadows. I didn’t have time to trial her so she only had a lead-on on the Monday before winning there on Wednesday.

“I was really pleased to see her handle the track because The Meadows can be a bit tricky.

“But then I think back to Hard Style Rico’s first start at The Meadows and he ran 29.79sec!

“Maybe it’s a line that likes The Meadows. I hope so!

“There’s a couple in the race, like the ‘pink’ (Curator) that have put the time on the board, which she hasn’t done yet, but if she jumps and gets to the front she’ll give it a good crack.”

The October 2019 Barcia Bale x Bella Rico litter also includes Jet Like Rico, which has also won three from five, and Big Sky Rico, which has three seconds from four starts.

WATCH: Wing Chun Girl (1) makes a winning debut at The Meadows, leading all-the-way in her GRV Vic Bred Maiden Series heat.

“Hard Style Rico is a very hard act to follow but at this stage they’re not quite up to the mark,” Luckie offered honestly.

“They’re handy enough, they chase hard and they’re still young and need to grow up a bit. You can see it in their demeanour and attitude – they just go, go, go. They’ve also had a few injury issues.

“There’s a couple that haven’t raced yet that have shown plenty of ability too. Actually, the first dogs that have raced from the litter were at the back end of times during breaking-in and pre-training.”

Bella Rico has also produced a third litter, by another super sire in Fernando Bale, which has just turned one and is currently embarking on the education process.

“I know it’s only behind the drag lure and there’s a very long way to go but there’s one in the Fernando Bale litter that’s shown serious speed – he’s gone a length quicker than Hard Style Rico went with the drag,” Karabitsakos said.

Four-time G1 finalist Hard Style Rico is enjoying a promising start to his stud career, standing with Karabitsakos at a $2200 service fee.

“He’s been going really good. He’s had 23 or 24 services and I’ve sold about 60 straws. A lot of breeders are looking for the American outcross that he has through Bella Infrared.”

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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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