• Tuesday, 21 Feb, 2023,
  • by Gerard Guthrie

Schillaci’s ‘greyt’ Warragul debut

Jihad Talgi’s brave decision to turn down a $100,000 offer for unraced youngster Schillaci was rewarded when the aptly-named excitement machine was a sensational debut winner at Warragul on Sunday night.

Talgi named his homebred son of 2020 Melbourne Cup hero Hard Style Rico and Flying Hareeba after the champion grey thoroughbred sprinter of the early ’90s, although it wasn’t the Devon Meadows’ owner/trainer’s first choice.

“My favourite horse was Hareeba,” explained Talgi, who combines training a team of four with managing a pizza business.

“Hareeba and Schillaci used to race against each other, but Hareeba had the wood on him; Schillaci never beat him.

“I tried to get Hareeba for Schillaci’s mother’s name, but it wasn’t available, so I called her Flying Hareeba. I tried to get Hareeba again for this dog, but still couldn’t get it, so I named him Schillaci.”

“There’d been a lot of talk, but this was showtime and he delivered!”

Talgi set the bar incredibly high naming his homebred prospect after Schillaci, an eight-time Group 1 winner, and admitted he was feeling the heat in the countdown to his first race appearance, after several scintillating trials.

It was following a 23.68sec trial over 425m at Bendigo, that Talgi knocked back a six-figure sum – not once, but twice.

Schillaci’s ability was no secret; he was backed as if unbeatable in a 460m maiden heat at Warragul on Sunday night – firming from $3.80 into $1.60 – and Talgi breathed a sigh of relief as he lived up to the hype.

Schillaci flew out from box one and the result was never in doubt in a commanding 4.93 length victory, stopping the clock at 25.58sec.

“To be honest, I’ve been feeling the pressure since he started trialling and he was trialling the house down,” Talgi said.

WATCH: “The mail was right, and the money was right too!” SCHILLACI (B1) lived up to his name on debut at Warragul on Sunday night, showing his rivals a clean pair of heels in a fast 25.58sec.

“Everyone knew what the dog was trialling. Three weeks ago, I was offered $100,000. I said no straight away, but they rang again the next day.

“If the offers get ridiculous, you’ve got to seriously consider it. But I’ve been waiting for a dog like this for 20 years. We all want a dog like this, we all want to go in the big races.

“He’s proved himself now. I’ve never seen a maiden go that well. His second split, 11.01sec, was only half a length off the record (10.98sec), which was set by Shima Shine!

“I was very proud of him. There’d been a lot of talk, but this was showtime and he delivered!

“At the end of the day, he’s 20 months old and 20 month old dogs don’t do what he’s doing unless they’re special.”

Fatefully, Talgi’s decision to roll the dice and breed one final litter has produced the greyhound he’s been waiting a lifetime for.

“It was going to be the last litter I bred. I had the mother desexed about four months ago,” Talgi explained.

“In a way, I probably should’ve waited to see how these pups went. I would’ve loved her to have a litter with Aston Rupee.

“Luckie (Karabitsakos) was a huge help. He gave me a free straw to Hard Style Rico and he whelped the litter, because I was setting my new pizza shop up and didn’t have the time.

“Luckie got a pup out of the litter and his pup is just as good as Schillaci. There’s three dogs in the litter and they’re all very fast. I have another one that I’m holding back for the Bendigo Gold Rush Maiden.

“After the final at Warragul on Sunday, the next option is probably the (G3) Launching Pad. I think he’ll be okay with the 500m and he’s been to Sandown and hand-slipped 12.65sec, 23.26sec his first time around there.”

Almost as excited as Talgi was Luckie Karabitsakos, who trained Schillaci’s sire Hard Style Rico, and stands the record-breaking multiple Group winner at stud.

“It was a very proud moment for me to watch a son of Hard Style Rico lighting the track up and I’m really looking forward to seeing what this dog can do.”

Pawnote: The thoroughbred Schillaci was named after Italian soccer player Salvatore Schillaci, the leading goal scorer at the 1990 World Cup.

Gerard GuthrieGerard Guthrie

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)

Up Next

Hey, Mickey!

Australian Cup ‘drums’ beat for Fernando Mick