Glenn Dainton is ‘stuck in the middle’.
But borrowing from the catchy 1970s tune, ‘It’s so hard to keep this smile from his face’.
Dainton’s remarkable affinity with middle distance greyhounds continued when Dookie Devil careered away with the $121,500 Group 1 Sportsbet Rookie Rebel invitational (600m) on the opening night of the ‘Unmissable’ Australian Cup Carnival.
It was the Cosgrove owner/trainer/breeder’s second G1 victory; his first also came over The Meadows’ 600m course, when Black Impala won the Hume Cup in 2018.
Dainton also trained 2013 Hume Cup runner-up Bookkeeper, which broke the track record when winning his heat (34.06) and started even-money favourite in the 2014 Rookie Rebel.
Sticking to an undeniable theme, Dookie Devil, a superbly-related son of Fernando Bale and Nicky Neo, a litter sister to Neo Cleo, whose two G1 wins included the 2018 Sale Cup, was the second leg of a winning double for Dainton last Saturday night.
His sister Jackpot Joan, third in the G2 Sandown Laurels in December, kick-started an unforgettable night when winning the second event, a FFA over – you guessed it – 600m.
“Bookkeeper, Black Impala and now we’ve got Dookie Devil and Jackpot Joan,” Dainton said.
“It seems strange. They just seem to keep popping out of the woodwork.
WATCH: DOOKIE DEVIL (B7) was one of the star performers on the opening night of the Australian Cup Carnival, winning the G1 Rookie Rebel (600m) invitational in commanding fashion.
“I’ve thought to myself, is it the way we’re working the dogs?
“I’d do anything for a 500m dog!” he added with a laugh.
“It’s a bit sad because 600m is one of those distances where there’s not many Group races.
“I think Dookie Devil might go 700m, by the look of him. He’s naturally very strong. He hadn’t had a run for nine days going into the Rookie Rebel. He’d been on the lead for nine days.”
As Dainton eluded, Dookie Devil came into the $75,000 to-the-winner Rookie Rebel off a limited preparation, he hadn’t raced since Boxing Day, when runner-up to Jarick Bale in the G1 Sale Cup (650m).
Drawn in box seven, Dookie Devil was the second elect at $5.80, with NSW star French Martini (box one) $3 favourite.
Dookie Devil began well and joined WA’s Amplified ($8.20) with a lap to go before taking control mid-race and dashing clear to deny Jarick Bale ($7.10) back-to-back Rookie Rebel victories, scoring by three lengths in a Best Of Night 34.28sec.
“With an invitation race, you’re against the best of the best,” Dainton said.
“All the best hand-picked dogs – from WA, NSW and Victoria – so to win one of those, you’ve got to think he must be a half-decent dog.
“We had a bad box draw, so the only hope was that he began. Luckily he began well, although he did get knocked around a bit at the start.
“He got in a close position and when that happens, it’s on! He’s a very competitive dog and he pours the pressure on. He likes a challenge and once he gets to the front, he’s determined to win.”
Dookie Devil has won 12 of his 26 starts, including four of his last five, also defeating Jarick Bale in the G3 Sir John Dillon Memorial (595m) at Sandown Park on Melbourne Cup night.
While Dainton was reluctant to compare Dookie Devil with the other members of his personal middle distance ‘hall of fame’, he warned the Rookie Rebel victor is still on the improve.
“I couldn’t really split them, but Dookie Devil is getting better all the time,” he said.
“He’s only had 26 starts, so he’s still relatively inexperienced and I don’t think he’s quite matured yet.”
The downside of ‘specialising’ in elite middle distance performers is that Dookie Devil won’t play any further part in the Australian Cup Carnival.
Dainton’s sights are now focused on next month’s lucrative Country Classic (605m) at Dubbo, worth $125,000 to-the-winner, while looking further afield, he’s eyeing off the G1 Sandown Cup (715m) in May.
“The Dubbo heats are on March 4, and I’ll take Jackpot Joan up as well,” Dainton explained.
“It’s a three-week campaign. The NSW dogs might have the edge on him on their home turf, but you’ve got to have a crack at it!
“After that, I’ll try to build him up to ‘700’ for the Sandown Cup, but there’s another race up in NSW at The Gardens (The 715m) that might be an easier option.”