Chief Dribble triumphant in SENZ Duke of Edinburgh Silver Collar

Chief Dribble was an impressive winner in the SENZ Duke of Edinburgh Silver Collar on Sunday. Photo credit: Rhian Farrell.

From a potential future of occupying a sofa to winning a Silver Collar; that’s the remarkable transition for Sunday’s stunning SENZ Duke of Edinburgh Silver Collar winner Chief Dribble.

Yes, Chief Dribble’s career as a racing greyhound looked done and dusted, until a phone call between a pair of long-time Canterbury mates dramatically changed all of that for the better.

Firstly, let’s go back to Sunday’s 53rd running of the nation’s premier Group 1 staying race. with the $80,000 marathon 779m race being decided on a rain-swept Manukau track.

Chief Dribble was undeterred about exiting from the five-trap, quickly securing the race lead when entering the first turn.

The Matt Roberts-mentored stayer was never going to relinquish his race lead, as seen by him cutting out his first sectional in a tidy 18.47, his second sectional in a low-flying 30.10, then bringing it home strongly in 15.91, holding a comfortable 7.25 length margin over his rivals, clocking an electric 46.01 overall race-time, which is a new Manukau 779m track record.

The two heat winners dueled it out for the minor sides of the podium, with Orson Blonde finishing strongly for her trainer Arch Lawrence to hold out the equally strong finishing Bob Pringle-prepared Grande Vue Ace by a neck margin.

For Roberts, the result was the ultimate accolade for him and his Ashburton College schoolmate James “Sheep” Shaw, who bred and reared Chief Dribble and who raced for his Victorian located mother-in-law and still current owner Mandy Haines.

“Once Chief Dribble got to the lead, I was saying to myself keep going. I knew he had oodles of speed, and I was over the moon when he won it.

“It’s awesome to win the Silver Collar for my mate and his family. Sending Chief Dribble over here certainly was the right move. He has switched around 180 degrees with the finish-on lure, which has really brought him on, making him a keener dog,” advised Roberts, who now joins his father Craig, who has trained two Silver Collar winners, as a Silver Collar winning trainer himself.

Roberts then informed us that it turned into a touch and go exercise just to get to Manukau.

“When I spoke to you on Wednesday morning, he was 100 percent ready to go. Then, he displayed signs of soreness and was tying up late Wednesday. He was no better on Thursday, and we couldn’t figure out what was wrong with him. We delayed leaving and changed our ferry booking.

“He improved enough to travel and he seemed better during the trip, while the signs with him were positive. I can assure you it was a very stressful time.

“The Silver Collar and the New Zealand Cup are the two biggest races on the national calendar and I favour the Silver Collar because I like training stayers. I’ve had no luck in previous Collars and I’m over the moon to have trained the winner of the great race,” advised Roberts.

James Shaw made a quick dash across the Tasman to be on course.

“Once he jumped, I was praying that he would keep going. It was a long watch, and it was only over the last 50m when I started to enjoy the race,” commented Shaw.

Roberts and Shaw started racing greyhounds together in 1999.

“I went to school with Matty. I then moved to Victoria in 2013 and worked for Jeff Britton and Angela Langton for around eight years, while I have been training myself for the last three years.

“I applied what they taught me about breeding and bred the Shima Shine – Slinky Inky litter that included Chief Dribble. His sister Big Suzie made two Group 1 finals and she won a Listed race at Sandown.

“Chief Dribble was a freakish dog when trialling, and while he won races for us, when he got a failing to chase charge (October 2023), I said to Molly (wife) and Mandy that the best place for him was on the couch.

“I was speaking to Matty, telling him how frustrated we were with him. Matt said send him over and I thought it was worth the punt with the finish-on lure over there, so I paid for the freight, on the condition that Matt rehomed him when he retired.

“Matty and his family have done a fantastic job with him and I’m already eyeing up a stayer for next year. You can call me the new Gerry O’Keeffe – he’s an inspiration,” chuckled an appreciative Shaw, who incidentally then made a quick rush to Auckland Airport for his flight back to Melbourne, meaning that he was back at home many hours before Roberts!

And Matt Roberts outlines the potential future racing plans for Chief Dribble, who has now won 12 of his 40 raceday starts, along with 13 minor placings adding up to $94,326 in stake earnings.

“We have the New Zealand Nationals Distance (New Zealand heat August, Addington 732m) on the radar for him. The National Distance Final is in Adelaide and I believe Angle Park will be an ideal track for Chief Dribble,” explained Roberts.  

Now that will be an interesting trip away for the old schoolmates!

Pawnote: Chief Dribble’s 46.01 winning time is an official Manukau 779m track record. Included in the results of previous Duke of Edinburgh Silver Collar winners is the 45.97 time posted by the Karen Walsh trained 2013 winner Thrilling Brat.

That race was hand started, meaning that it cannot be recognised as an official track record. The previous track record was set by Thrilling Brat’s kennelmate Thrilling Quest, who clocked 46.08 when winning her heat of the 2011 Silver Collar.


By Peter Fenemor  

Posted on 11 June 2024

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