Being named after Hawthorn champion Shaun Burgoyne and bred by three-time Commonwealth Games gold medallist Laetisha Scanlan, exciting Western Districts Derby contender Silk was destined to be an elite performer.
And thus far in his brief career, Silk has given every indication he’ll fulfil his end of the bargain.
A December ’20 son of Zambora Brockie and You Bug Me, Silk is trained by cousins David McKenzie and Gavin Clifton, who are coming off an unforgettable 2022, courtesy of Group 1 Topgun hero Photo Man.
Silk has won four from seven, highlighted by a flying 29.27sec run at Sandown Park at just his fifth start in November, prior to an injury-enforced let-up.
“His trials have been enormous. We hand-slipped him post-to-post at Sandown on Tuesday and he broke 23 seconds.”
A scorching trial at Sandown Park this week convinced McKenzie and Clifton to resume in Saturday night’s Listed Western Districts Derby heats at Ballarat.
“He’s a nice young pup and he’s only a tick over two, so he’s still a baby,” said McKenzie.
“He hurt himself at Sandown on Melbourne Cup night. He had a hairline crack in his ulna bone. It was nothing serious, we gave him a month off, and he’s freshened up beautifully.
“His trials have been enormous. We hand-slipped him post-to-post at Sandown on Tuesday and he broke 23 seconds. He went 22.90sec.
“We’re setting him for the (G3) Launching Pad, but we can’t wait that long! He can win two more races and the Derby series is heat and final, so Gav (Clifton) and I decided to put him in. We know it’s a hard race, but he’s ready to go.”
WATCH: “Wow!” Western Districts Derby contender SILK (B1) was a flying 29.27sec winner at Sandown Park at just his fifth start on November 17.
Silk will be on debut at Ballarat, although he has trialled at the track earlier in his career, in the second of four Derby heats – race 6 at 7.42pm.
His opposition includes Mr. Beets (box 7), winner of eight from 11, most recently taking out the Aston Derby Final (450m) at Warrnambool.
“He’s going super, but the draw is a concern,” said McKenzie.
“Box eight is a bad draw for what he is; he likes the fence.
“But ‘the seven’ (Mr. Beets) is quick early and heads left, so hopefully that might give him a bit of room to operate, and he can put himself in the race.”
Silk is owned by Burnie Scanlan, a passionate Hawthorn supporter, hence the promising sprinter is named after Shaun Burgoyne, a four-time premiership winner and 400-game player with the Hawks and Port Adelaide.
The strong sporting connection continues with Silk bred by Burnie’s daughter Laetisha, an Olympian and Gold medallist in trap shooting at the 2010/14/18 Commonwealth Games.
“Laetisha is a two-time Olympian and three-time Commonwealth Games Gold medallist,” Burnie explained.
“We’ve actually just got back from WA, where she cleaned up in the Nationals.
“I’m a Hawthorn man and Silk did everything right as a pup and was a pretty smooth mover, so I thought that was a good name for him!
“This is You Bug Me’s second litter. Her first litter was to Fernando Bale, but we didn’t have any luck with them at all. You try to go to the good stud dogs and some click and some don’t.
“I bred You Bug Me. She was by Barcia Bale out of Good Morning. Good Morning’s mother was Irish Malt and she was a litter sister to Shifty Sticka (2013 Melbourne Cup finalist). Good Morning had two litters – Barcia Bale and Head Bound – and threw more than 100 winners.
“You Bug Me was pretty handy. She was quick early. She ran 4.99sec at Sandown one night.”
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Burnie’s greyhounds were previously trained by Graham Hall, who’s also enjoyed success with the Irish Malt dam-line, notably Spotted Elk, runner-up in the inaugural The Phoenix.
“Burnie was looking for a trainer when Graham Hall moved to Queensland, and we have a connection with Burnie’s wife and my mum being really good friends,” McKenzie explained.
“Burnie was shattered when the Fernando Bale litter wasn’t any good, but he had a Zambora Brockie straw and decided to roll the dice and give it one more go.
“Silk is the standout, but his sister Tammy won at Sandown last Sunday over 595m and she goes okay.”
The fourth Derby heat – race 8 at 8.27pm – features a must-watch clash between G1 Silver Chief finalist Rejuvenate, brilliant winner of 11 from 14, and recent Shepparton 385m record breaker Blue Tungsten.
Meanwhile, McKenzie reports that illness will deny Photo Man the opportunity to complete The Meadows G1 invitational Topgun-Temlee feature double.
“He had a virus and probably won’t make the Temlee, but he looks a million dollars and he’s bouncing, so he’ll be back!”
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