Just two years after winning the inaugural running of the event, Peter Lagogiane was again dancing down the Wentworth Park home straight on Friday night, after his greyhound Handsome Prince caused an upset to win the TAB Million Dollar Chase Grand Final.
While again this year there was a dance, it was interrupted when the emotion of the moment hit Lagogiane, and he fell to his knees in tears.
Asked what this one means in comparison to the previous win, that of Mystic Riot back in 2018, again the emotion got to him. “This is just amazing. I am … I’m just lost for words.
“I guess I am a real millionaire now. We won half a million two years ago (the trainer’s 50% share) and half a million now. I honestly just can’t believe this.”
For Lagogiane – who has only had the dog in his kennel for a bit over a month after owner Shakeel Latimer purchased it from Tasmania – it was case of de ja vu all over again.
The similarities didn’t stop at the celebrations. Back in 2018 when he won the race with Mystic Riot, just like Handsome Prince in 2020, she wore the black number 7 rug.
Everyone knew it would be a frantic dash to the first turn, and they all thought they knew who would be there. But nobody, not even Lagogiane expected Handsome Prince to be the one to emerge as the leader heading around the bend.
All week it had been spoken about whether Shadow Mist, Flying Ricciardo or Tommy Shelby would lead. All three were there as expected, but there in the middle, poking up between them, was Handsome Prince, and as everyone held their breath, it was the dog wearing the seven rug who cut to the rail, and assumed control.
“I knew if he found the fence he would excel this dog, he jumped well, he pushed up hard,” Lagogiane said. “Look he showed a bit of pace last week. He went 5.49s (for the first section) all he had to do was improve a bit. I don’t even know what time he ran … hey, it doesn’t matter.
“Once he found the front, he couldn’t get run down.
“What a little marvel this guy has turned out to be, and I must thank Pat (Ryan, his previous trainer).
“When he drew box seven, Shakeel said don’t worry, we will still win it. He had faith in us and the dog and so did my wife Jodie. She said all week, stop worrying, stop stressing, let it be. And I thought she’s right, whatever it is, it’s etched in stone.”
When it came to times, that first sectional was 5.44s and the overall time was 29.72s, almost a length slower that Mystic Riot ran in 2018, but like Lagogiane said, times meant nothing.
The most inexperienced runner in the field, Xerri, turned in a sensational performance to run home after parking on the leaders early and grab second 1¾ lengths back, with West Australian star Tommy Shelby gallant in finishing a close-up third.
Backmarkers Waging War and Awesome Catch ran on for fourth and fifth, with Flying Ricciardo sixth, Wallbanger seventh and Shadow Mist eighth.