Just when some wanted to write him off, the 2019 TAB Million Dollar Chase champion Good Odds Harada, showed he is not quite ready to abdicate just yet.
But … while those trackside at Bulli were still talking about the return to form of Harada, less than 20 minutes later, the dog who played second fiddle to him in last year’s MDC Grand Final at Wentworth Park showed he is ready to go one better in 2020.
Shima Shine produced a stunning drop in, drop out performance, and came within less than a length of the Bulli 472m track record with a stunning 25.82s effort. The time was just outside of the track record set by Aston Dee Bee back in April 2017 at 25.78s.
Trained in Victoria by Andrea Dailly, Shima Shine was collected from a transporter in Albury on Monday by NSW trainer Ross Davidson who was the registered trainer for the Bulli run.
“He's a superstar, there’s no doubt about that,” Davidson said. “He's got the runs on the board to do that sort of thing (run that time) and as sort of a caretaker at the moment, that's what you're hoping for him to do, but you just don't want to put a foot wrong when you're looking after him for someone else.
“I picked him up from the transporter in Albury yesterday and I live the other side Lithgow, so we came back there last night and settled in. He had a nice day today, and then we travelled down this afternoon and he travelled beautifully, so I was really happy with him coming to the track.
“There's an expectation in the care you've got to give, for the owners and the trainer, and you’re talking about one of the top five dogs in the country. You know as a trainer and someone involved with greyhounds, that little things can go wrong and you just don't want it to happen on your watch.
“I think that there’s five or six dogs in the history of Sandown who have broken 29s and he's one of them, so the expectations are there. With a clear run and no interference you do expect him to run time.“
Davidson will be doing plenty of kilometres this week and will head back to Albury on Wednesday with Shima Shine.
“I'll meet up with a transport company in Albury tomorrow, and he'll be back in his own bed, sometime tomorrow afternoon, and then he'll go through his normal work program, he won't trial, he will just work in the runs for the week. And then I'll meet back up with the (transport) company on Monday and we'll bring him back up again for the final next Tuesday.”
The run of the second dog, Karina Britton’s Wow, was exceptional, clocking 25.97s in finishing two lengths behind the flying Victorian, while Shetland was a great third in 26.14s.
While Shima Shine was outstanding, it was also great to see the best of Good Odds Harada, and the pair are set for a tantalising battle next Tuesday night at Bulli.
After five runs without a win, there were plenty of doubters saying the millionaire greyhound was past his best and not a threat in the 2020 series.
But his slick all the way win in 26.14s - a time more than half a length better than he has ever run at the South Coast venue - shows there is still plenty of life left in Good Odds Harada.
“It's very satisfying,” said trainer Frank Hurst. “Because I know what he can do. Everywhere he's going in trials he’s breaking records but because of the box draws (he has been getting) he hasn't been getting a chance to win.
“That's why I brought him to the bigger track, the long run to the first turn. He's back now.”
Asked if it was a relief to see him run time and win again, Hurst said: “It's really good to see him get clear run and then he can run 26.14s.”
Peter Lagogiane who with his wife JODIE won the inaugural Million Dollar Chase in 2018 with Mystic Riot, qualified two dogs for the final, Shetland who was third to Shima Shine, and Stardom who ran a great second to Good Odds Harada, clocking 26.17s.