A ‘happy family’ snap… Nicholas Britton, 16, with mum Angela Langton and dad Jeff Britton, along with Silver Chief star Mepunga Shine 📷 Clint Anderson

  • Tuesday, 19 Dec, 2023,
  • by Peter Quilty

Mepunga ‘shines’ and Rose ‘blooms’

Rising stars Mepunga Shine and Isle Of Rose are Victoria’s age-restricted champions of their peer groups.

Mepunga Shine – trained by Jeff Britton – ‘shone’ in the all-male Group 1 Silver Chief (525m) at The Meadows, while Isle Of Rose – trained by Jackie Greenough – ‘bloomed’ in the all-female Group 2 Laurels Classic (515m) at Sandown Park.

Both prodigies put some ‘peer pressure’ on their rivals, with Mepunga Shine taking home a $100,000 winner’s cheque and Isle Of Rose landing a $55,000 first prize.

Mepunga Shine ($5.10) led all-the-way to defeat Rocket Riot ($5.10) – trained by Jason Thompson – by 3.1L, with Morton ($2.90F) a further 1.4L away in 29.76sec.

It was almost two lengths faster than the time recorded on the night by Schillaci (29.87sec) in the $1,000,000 to-the-winner The Phoenix – a fantastic finale to the $4.1m Sportsbet Dream Chasers Festival.

Meanwhile, Thompson – who finished second in The Phoenix with Postman Pat – was vying for an incredible sixth Silver Chief trophy.

“I’m going to work with the dogs, and I’ll see how far I get.” – Nicholas Britton

Owned by leviathan Mepunga East breeder Barry Smith, but bred by greyhound racing media identity George Farrugia, Mepunga Shine (Feb ’22 Shima Shine x Mepunga Molly) notched his eighth win from only 12 starts and his stakes spiralled to $140,510. He’s now three from six over 525m at The Meadows.

Nicholas Britton, 16 – who has just completed Year 10 at Cardinia International College and is a son of Anakie trainers Angela Langton and Jeff Britton  – handled his second G1 winner for the year in Mepunga Shine.

He also handled G1 Sandown Cup winner Korda, who is an older half-brother of Mepunga Shine.

Post-race, an elated Nicholas told “He didn’t really show it (early pace) in his first couple of starts. But now he’s got the start right, he’s able to run those first splits… I’m stoked!

“Well, I’d still say the Sandown Cup (handling the winner, Korda) is better than this. They’ll (my parents) be over the moon… I’m still shaking.

“I was just praying… Down the back, I knew he’d take some catching. I’m very happy.”

Nicholas Britton and dad Jeff get ‘up close and personal’ with budding champ Mepunga Shine 📷 Clint Anderson

And when interviewed by GRV, Nicholas added: “At the moment, I’m going to work with the dogs, and I’ll see how far I get. I’m not interested in much else than greyhound racing.”

Nicholas, who was born with the proverbial lead-and-collar in his hands, is already well versed on the ups-and-downs of greyhound racing.

“You have your good days and it’s the best time of your life. You also have your bad times, but you just need to move on.”

Nicholas plays an active role at home with the family’s greyhounds.

“I usually work with the racing team of 40 greyhounds which involves letting them out of the kennels in the morning, putting them up our straight track, exercising them on the walking machine, feeding, and occasionally assisting with trialling duties.”

Nicholas obviously has a ‘soft spot’ for Mepunga Shine, who he says was “a bit shy early”.

WATCH: “Mepunga Shine roared away in the Silver Chief and won it.” MEPUNGA SHINE (B3) produces a sparkling victory in the G1 Silver Chief.

“He’s just a nice dog. He just rests on his bed, doesn’t bark, and has a relaxed temperament.”

His proud mum, Angela, says Nicholas is “a great role model for the younger generation in the sport”.

“He’s very humble and loves the dogs. He’s also extremely hands on and spends a lot of time with them.”

Two nights prior to Mepunga Shine’s ‘30 seconds of fame’, NSW flier Isle Of Rose provided her training caretakers ‘Team Greenough’ with their second Laurels victory. They also saluted with Fantastic Skye in 2015.

Isle Of Rose ($3.50) led from go to whoa defeating Granny Roses ($7.90) by 3.1L, with Desired Path ($35.00) a further 0.6L away in 29.55sec.

“She’ll go ‘600’ without a problem as she pulls up like she hasn’t had a run.” – Kel Greenough

Owned in Jilliby, NSW, by former golf pro Troy Macdonald, Isle Of Rose (Sep ’21 Barcia Bale x Hello Mavis) registered her 11th win from 14 starts with $96,670 in prizemoney.

It was her sixth win from her past seven starts and she’s now three from four over 515m at Sandown.

Isle Of Rose has recorded three wins from four starts since transferring to the Greenough kennel early last month.

“I first met Troy through his mother-in-law Lorraine Atchison, who bred Isle Of Rose,” Kel Greenough said. “He just thought the Laurels might be suitable as she’s the best dog he’s had.

“She came to us in terrific condition – absolutely looked a treat and made our job easier. The only setback was a bad trip down, but she was quickly into stride.”

Jackie Greenough with Isle Of Rose after her ‘blooming’ brilliant Laurels Classic victory 📷 Clint Anderson

Greenough advised that Isle Of Rose would return to Macdonald for a tilt at either the Queensland Futurity or Gosford Cup.

“I think Troy has a slight leaning towards the Futurity,” Greenough said. “However, he wants to send her back to us at some stage. We’ll keep an eye on her.”

Greenough thinks Isle Of Rose “will go further in distance”.

“She seems to have a ‘flat spot’, around the 350-450m mark over the ‘500’ which indicates to me she eventually may want further.

“She’ll go ‘600’ without a problem as she pulls up like she hasn’t had a run.”

WATCH: “Isle Of Rose has won the Laurels for Jackie Greenough”. NSW ‘flying femme’ ISLE OF ROSE (B6) was in ‘full blossom’ in the G2 Laurels.

Peter QuiltyPeter Quilty

Peter Quilty

Peter Quilty has more than three decades of experience as assistant editor of Victorian Greyhound Weekly. He was editor of GRV monthly magazine The Adviser (2001-09) and owner/publisher of Australian Greyhound Monthly. He also served on the selection panel for the inaugural GRV ‘Hall of Fame’ inductees and for several years was an adjudicator on the Victorian GOTY. He’s also published greyhound racing yearbooks and wrote the ‘Bold Trease’ video script.

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