Rising star Poke The Bear claimed his first feature trophy on Friday night with an emphatic victory at the Traralgon Cup final.
While 2018 is not yet one month old, Poke The Bear’s Traralgon Cup triumph was the second group success for trainer Seona Thompson and owner/breeders Darren and father Michael Puleio.
“We’ve been waiting 15 years for this,” a delighted Michael Puleio said.
“I was very confident about his chances tonight, even if no one else was. Once he got into second place I knew he’d win. He’s the best in the litter.”
Despite drawing box six for the race, which was brought forward from Saturday under Greyhound Racing Victoria’s hot weather policy, Poke The Bear started $2.60 favourite, having won his previous three starts including a 30.30 second heat win.
Local hope Monster Fish ($7.70), one of two finalists trained by Kate Gorman, was able to cross to the front from box seven, but Poke The Bear carved across to move into second soon after rounding the first turn.
Monster Fish retained a slender lead turning for home, but was overtaken by the strong-finishing Poke The Bear.
The winner came home by 1.57 lengths in a fast 30.03 seconds – his fourth straight victory and 13th from 19 overall, with the $47,000 winner’s cheque taking his earnings past the $100,000 mark.
“Like dad [Michael] said, it has been a long time coming,” Darren Puleio said.
“We’ve been breeding for a while now and we always try to do the right thing by our pups.
“To get one really good dog isn’t easy, but this litter has produced two group winners already and they’re only two years old. We are blessed.”
The $10,000 to-the-winner Traralgon Distance Cup over 665 metres went to favourite Brueghelino, trained by Des Douch, which defeated Diane O’Neill’s littermates Shae’s Intention and Royal Intention in 39.03 seconds.