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SA Derby winner SCHILLACI pictured with trainer Jihad Talgi and Izzy Korcari 📷 Kurt Donsberg

  • Friday, 15 Sep, 2023,
  • by Gerard Guthrie

Schillaci’s sizzling Derby domination

Boom Victorian sprinter Schillaci showed why Jihad Talgi turned down two offers of $100,000 before he’d raced, with a near-record domination of the Group 3 SA Derby Final (530m) at Angle Park on Thursday night.

Devon Meadows-based Talgi, who also bred and races Schillaci, which he named after the champion grey thoroughbred of the early 1990s, celebrated a dream Group victory at his first attempt.

Schillaci, a June ’21 son of 2020 Melbourne Cup winner Hard Style Rico and Flying Hareeba (named after Talgi’s favourite racehorse), led all-the-way to win the Derby in a flying 30.00sec.

His scorching time was only two lengths outside Wow She’s Fast’s 29.86sec track record and less than a length off another superstar Vic in Aston Rupee’s previous benchmark of 29.95sec.

“I knew what I had and now everyone can see why I knocked back the offers.”

“You’re under pressure when you knock back big money for a dog,” Talgi said.

“I knew what I had and now everyone can see why I knocked back the offers.

“I got the first offer after he trialled 23.68sec at Bendigo. He hadn’t even been named yet, let alone raced!”

Schillaci was the fastest qualifier for the Derby after a stunning 13-length 30.27sec heat romp at his Angle Park debut and after drawing box one for the $25,000 to-the-winner final, he started $1.90 favourite.

Schillaci and fellow Victorian, Mepunga Smokey (box 7), the $2.30 second elect for Jeff Britton, dominated betting and were the only two at single figures.

Schillaci came out running, making full use of the rails alley to lead by three lengths rounding the first turn and it was one-way traffic in a flawless front-running exhibition, as he defeated Weblec Wolf ($21) by 5.5 lengths, with Mepunga Smokey third.

WATCH: “Have a look at the clock!” SCHILLACI (B1) was a brilliant all-the-way winner of the G3 SA Derby Final (530m), clocking a near-record 30.00sec.

It was Schillaci’s eighth win from 12 starts and he’ll return to Angle Park for the G1 Adelaide Cup heats on Thursday, September 28, now sharing top billing in Sportsbet’s ‘All In’ Adelaide Cup market with Amron Boy at $7.

“Just excited. It’s a great thrill,” said a jubilant Talgi.

“To win any race is a thrill, but to win in Group company there’s euphoria.

“I’ve been in greyhounds for 25 years and training for probably ten. Schillaci is the first Group finalist I’ve had, but I bred a dog that won a Group 1; Lioness Lulu, which won the Association Cup (2016).

“When Schillaci ran 30.27sec in his heat in the wind and cold – the conditions were horrendous – the locals told me it was unbelievable. They told me he was unbelievable again last night!

“I was confident, but you can’t be too confident.

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Jihad Talgi celebrates his first Group victory in the SA Derby 📷 Kurt Donsberg

“When the time first went up it said 29.98sec and I thought he’d broken ‘30’. I couldn’t believe it. They told me only five dogs have gone 30 seconds or better since the new track opened.

“He amazes me nearly every time I put him around. He’s only two years and three months old, so it’s exciting times ahead.

“I’ll give him a little freshen-up and maybe a race at Sandown and then we’ll come back in two weeks for the Adelaide Cup heats. He’s proven he’s quick enough.”

Further merit was added to Schillaci’s performance with star Victorian duo Big Energy and Afire trialling in 30.42sec and 30.83sec respectively.

Victorians dominated the Derby, filling the first five placings, with Departed ($12) also trained by Britton, and Vicki Wisener’s Aston Costello ($14) running fourth and fifth.

Jeff Britton also had to settle for second and third in the G3 SA Oaks Final.

Britton had the $1.95 Oaks favourite in Mepunga Surprise, but she fell on the first turn as local Where’s Poppy, a litter sister to G1 Maturity Classic finalist Professor Snitch, trained by Kirin Corby, defeated Britton’s duo Weblec Jewel ($16) and Purified ($11) in 30.58sec.

Schillaci winning the G3 SA Derby in a near-record 30.00sec 📷 Kurt Donsberg

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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