Fastest qualifier for Sunday’s Goulburn Workers Club Fireball final is Here Comes Joe, whose owner-trainer Jihad “Joe” Estephan has been training greyhounds for just two months.
Here Comes Joe, at just 18 months of age the baby of the field, blitzed his rivals in last Tuesday’s third heat of the Fireball, winning easily and covering the 350m in a slashing 19.65sec.
Estephan’s son Norm explained: “Dad once bought a racehorse called Here Comes Joe but it broke a leg and didn’t race.
“He did not want to give this dog the same name because he is superstitious and thought it would be unlucky, but the rest of the family were keen on the name.
“It was the last name we submitted and dad was horrified when that was the name the dog was given.
“We started in greyhounds with a dog called Kazmick’s Belle who was terribly slow and usually came last.
“But dad got us to persevere with the dog because he figured it was a good way for him to learn how to train a greyhound.
“Midway through last year, Subby Ngurah, a friend of the family who owns, breeds and trains greyhounds, called us and said he had bred a litter from his bitch Sovereign Queen and advised dad to buy one of the puppies.
“We went to Subby’s farm and dad noticed a little black puppy in the corner of the pen getting jumped on and pushed around by his brothers and sisters.
“Dad surprised Subby when he told him that was the pup he wanted to buy.
“He bought him for $5000 and Subby reared him for dad and now, racing as Here Comes Joe, he has given my father a new lease of life.
“Dad came to Australia from Lebanon in the mid 1950s and after having a hard life there he has often found himself depressed.
“But since he has been training Here Comes Joe I have never seen him so happy, the greyhounds and the people involved in the sport have totally enriched his, and our family’s lives.”
VICTORIAN Myrniong And All, who took out the 2018 Goulburn Fireball in track record time of 19.35, won his heat this year from box four in 19.74 and has drawn box one in Sunday’s $8000 to the winner final.
Fastest first split was posted by Fabulous Penny, who came from box eight to win heat two for Charlie Gatt in 19.81 after clocking a sizzling 6.39 for her first section.
“I would have loved box one but box two is good,” Gatt said.
“Fabulous Penny usually begins with them but then outpaces her rivals in the early stages because she has a good turn of speed once she hits the ground.
“She needs to lead to win on Sunday because she is not very strong at the finish.”
SHIMA Shine (pictured) may have found Good Odds Harada too good in Friday night’s TAB Million Dollar Chase but the Andrea Dailly-trained youngster still established himself as the top Victorian prospect for next month’s Group 1 Melbourne Cup.
Heats of the Cup will be held over 515m at Sandown on November 22 with the $435,000 to the winner final a week later.
After Friday’s Million Dollar Chase, Shima Shine’s part-owner David Gleeson, who bred the youngster and raced his dam Shima Song, said: “He was the baby of the field tonight and was having only his 12th start, so was also the least experienced finalist.
“The Mebourne Cup is his mission and while he has not raced or trialled yet at Sandown we think that track will suit him perfectly.
“He broke the Ballarat 450m track record at only his seventh start so has a huge motor.
“Shima Shine has won nine from 12 appearances but has had plenty of poor boxes and while his two WP wins leading up to the Million Dollar Chase final were from boxes seven and eight, he is crying out for an inside draw.
“He has not yet drawn the rails box.”
Shima Shine is bred in the purple, as his dam Shima Song won 28 of 66 starts for Gleeson and earned $288,000 in stakes.