Umberto pictured with caretaker trainer Peter Lagogiane 📷 Image courtesy of Greyhound Racing NSW

  • Wednesday, 06 Sep, 2023,
  • by Gerard Guthrie

Umberto set to shine in Megastar

Umberto may have been beaten in his heat of the Group 1 Dapto Megastar (520m), but he shapes as Victoria’s and champion trainer Jason Thompson’s best chance in Thursday night’s final.

Three Vics will line up in the Megastar (race 7, 9.22pm), with Umberto (box 1) Sportsbet’s joint $3 favourite with local Mortified (box 2).

Umberto’s kennelmate Stealth (box 5) is $7.50, with Afire (box 4), trained by Jason Sharp, at $6.50.

Umberto, a son of Bernardo and Triscay, showed tremendous speed on debut at Dapto in his Megastar heat to cross from box eight and led everywhere bar the post when edged out by fastest qualifier Bailey Bear in a flying 29.49sec.

In defeat, Umberto, winner of 11 from 24, with 10 minor placings, including second in the G2 Flying Amy Classic in Brisbane, ran faster time (29.51sec) than the other three heat winners; Mortified (29.62sec), Stealth (29.65sec) and Remember This (29.66sec).

“If he’s able to find a little bit that’s great, but if he can repeat his heat run, I’d like to think he’ll be very hard to beat.”

“Even though Stealth won his heat and went really well, I was probably happier with Umberto’s run because he only got beaten in the last stride and in very good time,” Jason Thompson said.

“I identified this race for these two a while ago. They both had a look at Dapto, box-to-box, and Umberto went terrible, which he always does in trials, so that didn’t worry me, and Stealth went really quick.

“Dapto is a tricky track and it’s always a big advantage if you can lead.

“I thought they were both really good in their heats. They boxed well and showed good speed to lead. It’s not easy to lead from box eight, so I was really happy with Umberto’s run.”

WATCH: UMBERTO (B8) showed blistering early speed in his G1 Dapto Megastar heat when edged out by BAILEY BEAR (B2) in a scorching 29.49sec.

Raced by the Lightning Syndicate, which comprises the entire Thompson family and star jockey Danny Beasley, Umberto’s prospects of a breakthrough Group victory received a huge boost when he drew box one for the $75,000 to-the-winner final.

“Umberto can handle a wide draw but box one is what we wanted for the final,” Thompson said.

“There’s a lot of speed in the race, so it’ll be much easier to lead from box one.

“If he’s able to find a little bit that’s great, but if he can repeat his heat run, I’d like to think he’ll be very hard to beat.”

Thompson is utilising the services of two-time Million Dollar Chase winner Peter Lagogiane while Umberto and Stealth are based in NSW, with both likely to head to the heats of the G2 Black Top at The Gardens next Friday (September 15).



A top three finish in the Megastar also carries automatic entry into the MDC semi-finals.

“I’ve raced against Peter (Lagogiane) plenty of times, but I actually caught up with him on Stradbroke day in Brisbane ,” Thompson explained.

“I’d noticed how his dogs are in such good condition – they’re always immaculate – and he obviously knows how to win the Million Dollar Chase, so it’s like sending dogs to Tony Brett for the Brisbane Cup.”

On Sunday, Thompson has another feature race favourite with track specialist Unleash Collinda (box 3) Sportsbet’s $2.60 market elect for the $87,000 G2 Sportsbet Healesville Cup (350m).

After winning the G3 National Straight Track Championship one week earlier, Unleash Collinda started a prohibitive $1.10 in his Healesville Cup heat and despite blowing the start was untroubled in recording a 19.11sec victory.

Unleash Collinda winning his G2 Healesville Cup heat in 19.11sec 📷 Clint Anderson

PAWNOTE: Jason Thompson is chasing his second victory in the Dapto Megastar, having won the race in 2017 with Aqua Cheetah, trained by wife Seona, while he’s looking for a third Healesville Cup success to sit alongside El Brooklyn (2013) and Zambora Lou (2020).

That was the dual record holder’s 20th win from 23 starts over 300m and 350m at Healesville, with the son of Beast Unleashed and Audacious Bell’s only unplaced run coming in last year’s Healesville Cup Final, where he ran fifth to Sacred Stance, beaten just 1.5L.

“He can be a bit hit and miss and he’s been beginning pretty well, so he was due to blow the start and he certainly did that,” Thompson said.

“The good thing is that touchwood he generally doesn’t do it twice in a row.

“I’m hoping he’s got that out of the way because he’ll need to come out. It’s an awkward draw for most of the field, so the dog that does everything right will more than likely win the race.

“A few dogs were unlucky in last year’s final, but none were as unlucky as he was. He should’ve won easily.

“He’s won every final at Healesville since then, except for the Members Trophy, where he ran second, so it would be fantastic if he could win the 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)

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