SPLINTERS, named after the first greyhound they owned nearly five decades ago, put popular Llandilo owner-trainers Wilma and Tony Messina back in the Wentworth Park winner’s circle yesterday week.
The “new” Splinters began smartly from box five and although outpaced early by Phoenix Pak and Sunset Warrior, swept around that pair when they collided at the first turn.
Splinters headed Brayden Lennox leaving the back straight and bolted in, scoring by seven lengths in 30.34sec, far and away his best time at WP.
Not only that, but Splinters’ litter brother and kennelmate Flying Springer finished third in the same event.
“I did some box work with Splinters leading up to tonight’s race and it might have paid dividends,” Tony Messina said after the event.
“I expected him to go well because he trialled 22.80sec over 400m at Richmond on the Sunday prior to this race, and that time was the best of the morning.”
Tony and Wilma Messina have always raced their own breed, and Splinters is a January, 2015, son of Spring Gun and their former handy racer Bev’s Charm.
Bev’s Charm won six races while they have also had great success on the track and in the breeding barn with Magic Moves (12 wins), Kristen Alyssa (eight wins) and their top performer Lini Danco, whose 11 wins from 39 races included victory in the 2017 Western Australia Oaks at Cannington in May.
“Bev’s Charm is still pottering around at home and we have some nice pups but at this stage we are unlikely to breed again,” Tony Messina said at WP.
“We have been doing that since 1972 and Wilma is keen for us to do some travelling.”
Tony and Wilma were regulars at Harold Park trots in the late 60s with Tony at one stage keen to buy a pacer.
“But Wilma put her foot down, she wouldn’t let us get a horse, and because my cousin Adam Lancia was a successful greyhound trainer at the time, I went out and bought a puppy from him,” Tony recalled.
“We named that puppy Splinters and with Adam advising us on how to train him, the dog won for us at Moss Vale and Goulburn.”
Apart from Lini Danco’s WA Oaks win, the Messinas’ biggest thrill in the sport came when Kristen Alyssa qualified for the 2007 group 1 National Futurity final at WP.
Kristen Alyssa defeated the Don McMillan-trained Bralyn Maisie in her heat, but drew box five in the final and was knocked out of the race at the first turn.
It’s history now that Bralyn Maisie, who had chased home the Messinas’ bitch in the heat, drew box one in the final and won in 30.46sec.