10 February, 2024
The Phoenix Hero Can Rise Again In Temlee
“I think he can.”
With those four simple words Jihad Talgi steadfastly reiterated his faith in life-changing superstar Schillaci ahead of Saturday night’s Group 1 Temlee (525m) at The Meadows. Schillaci has been beaten in all four starts since stunning the greyhound racing world in The Phoenix, however Talgi’s belief in his pride and joy hasn’t been shaken.
Schillaci defied the odds in The Phoenix and Devon Meadows pizza parlour proprietor Talgi says his proudly homegrown sprinter can repeat the dose on the opening night of the Australian Cup Carnival.
“He just needs to get out,” Talgi said.
“If he gets out and leads I’m pretty confident nothing will beat him.”
Schillaci returns to The Meadows for the first time since leading all-the-way to claim a $1 million bonanza in The Phoenix, the world’s richest race, on December 16. In four subsequent starts he’s finished unplaced in heats of the Warragul and Traralgon Cups and second at Sandown Park at his two most recent appearances.
“I took him to Sandown a couple of Sundays ago for a no penalty meeting just to get some confidence and build him back up to 500m for The Australian Cup,” Talgi explained.
“But I was really embarrassed the way he jumped and embarrassed that he got beaten at $1.30.”
“Another trainer told me not to worry about what other people think, the dog has won the biggest race in the land, but that’s just me. I’m a very proud person and I want to win any race I go in.”
“I do think he can win on Saturday night. Only because of his run last Thursday at Sandown. He really impressed me.”
“Without winning, it was a super run.”
“He gave the leader, a Group 1 winner (Mepunga Shine), four lengths and ran it to a length.”
Schillaci was the outsider of The Phoenix field, starting at $20 in his memorable 29.87sec triumph, and he’ll again go around at double figures in the Temlee, currently marked at $12. Talgi’s confidence received a much-needed confidence boost when his pride and joy was allocated an odd box, with the son of 2020 Melbourne Cup winner Hard Style Rico to exit three.
“If you look at his form, he comes out better when he’s in an odd box,” Talgi pointed out.
“He had box eight in the Warragul Cup heat, box six at Traralgon, box six again at Sandown and then box two last week.
“I said I would be happy with one, three or five, which he had in The Phoenix.
“I hope he’s able to get in front of Transponder (box 2), because he could cause some trouble getting off the fence.
“In my opinion, The Phoenix was a better field, but there’s more pace in this race.”
Whatever happens on Saturday night or from this point on, Talgi will always have those priceless memories of the night Schillaci proved beyond doubt he was truly one in a ‘million’.
“I reckon I’ve watched the replay at least 300 times, no word of a lie,” Talgi said.
“And every time I watch it I still get goosebumps and get emotional, because it’s life-changing. It really is life-changing.”
ARTICLE COURTSEY OF Gerard Guthrie The Greyhound Recorder