After producing arguably the best city debut in recent memory, Group 1 glory awaits boom youngster Rejuvenate in the $157,875 Sportsbet Silver Chief Final (525m) at The Meadows on Saturday night.
Rejuvenate, which is trained, owned, and bred by Gippsland stalwarts Ian and Maureen Brown, and son Paul, stepped up to 500m for the first time in the Silver Chief heats and announced his arrival as greyhound racing’s next big thing with a sensational performance.
Rejuvenate stopped the clock at a near-record 29.47sec in a stunning 11-length romp.
“That was his first ‘500’ ever,” said Paul Brown.
“It’s hard to say he’s going to improve on that, but I think he probably can. We’ll just have to wait and see.
“I thought he could go about 29.60sec.
“He had one post-to-post at The Meadows and went 17.80sec, which was best of the day. I expected him to improve three or four lengths on that and he’s always been a strong dog, so I knew he’d run some time.
“Everywhere he goes, he just runs records and fast times.”
Rejuvenate, which only turned two on November 24, is a hulking 38-kilogram son of dual G1 winner Hooked On Scotch, a half-brother to 2018 Silver Chief winner Out Of Range.
He’s won 10 of his 12 starts, with both defeats being seconds, and will be chasing his seventh straight win in Saturday’s $100,000 to-the-winner Silver Chief Final – race 8 at 9.04pm.
It’s also been a meteoric rise for 40-year-old Burramine (near Yarrawonga) forklift driver Paul Brown, who only had his first starter in January this year; however he’s modestly shifted the spotlight onto his parents.
“The phone hasn’t stopped since Saturday!” he quipped.
“I’m just excited to be on this journey. I haven’t even held a trainers license for 12 months, so to win two Group races, including a Group 1, would be incredible, but we’re not counting our chickens.
“Mum and Dad have been in greyhounds for about 60 years and they really deserve to win a Group 1. They bred him and I wouldn’t be where I am without them, so they deserve all the recognition.”
The Browns kept Rejuvenate away from the metropolitan arena in order to meet the ‘no city wins’ criteria of the G3 Northern Districts Cup (450m) at Shepparton, which paid off with a runaway 25.27sec victory in the final on November 14.
It was then time to hit the big smoke in the age-restricted Silver Chief heats, where Rejuvenate started $1.80 favourite from box 1 in his airborne romp.
While Rejuvenate was only a tenth of a second outside Allen Deed’s 29.376sec track record, he wasn’t the fastest qualifier, being shaded by the Brooke Ennis-trained Amron Boy’s similarly spectacular 29.45sec.
After drawing alongside each other, Amron Boy (box 3) and Rejuvenate (box 2) dominate Sportsbet’s market, at $2.40F and $2.50, respectively.
“I’m quietly confident,” said Brown.
“He is a little bit hit and miss at the start, which is the only worry with him.
“He’s drawn well. I think ‘the red’ (Landyn Bale) will lead and it will hopefully give us a cart into the race, running second or third. I don’t want to be buried away on the inside.
Click HERE for Sportsbet’s latest Silver Chief market
“It depends what happens at the start and what sort of run Amron Boy gets. There’s some pace on Amron Boy’s outside.
“Amron Boy is a superior dog and it’s very hard to be confident in a race like this, but we’re definitely in with a chance.”
The Browns have thus far been rewarded for their patient approach with Rejuvenate and that was again the case when they chose not to pursue a late opportunity to secure the final slot in The Phoenix, worth $1 million to the winner, to be held at The Meadows on Saturday week (December 17).
“I had a discussion with Peter Sadler (slot holder) about The Phoenix, but I just felt it was a bit too soon,” Paul explained.
“I hadn’t given the dog a ‘500’ at that stage and I wasn’t sure how quickly Peter needed a decision.
“We don’t need to rush him. We’ve taken a slow approach, just taking him through his grades, and it’s panned out so far!”