Silver Collar Hero Has National Distance Goal

A RETURN to Australia for the National Distance Championship is on the cards for Chief Dribble, after his Silver Collar (779m) win on Sunday.

A RETURN to Australia for the National Distance Championship is on the cards for Chief Dribble, after the expatriate turned New Zealand's prestigious Group 1 Duke of Edinburgh Silver Collar (779m) into a one-act affair on Sunday.

Named after AFL great Jason Dunstall's well-documented dislike of ‘dribble' kicks at goal, Chief Dribble gave ex-Kiwi trainer James Shaw a triumphant return to the Shaky Isles.

Shaw, husband of greyhound racing media identity Molly Haines, bred and trained Chief Dribble for mother-in-law Mandy Haines, before transferring him to close friend Matt Roberts in NZ late last year.

"That's a big one to tick off; very exciting," said Shaw, who relocated to Victoria in 2013.

"I think the Silver Collar is the main race in New Zealand.

"The NZ Cup is worth more, but to me the Silver Collar is the most prestigious.

"With the actual collar coming from the Royal Family (the late Prince Philip) and the 779m being the longest race in Australasia, the Silver Collar is the pinnacle.

"Matt Roberts was a groomsman at our wedding, so to win it with him was fantastic, and Chief Dribble took a length off the track record too, which was the icing on the cake."

A June '21 son of Shima Shine and Slinky Inky, Chief Dribble made the trans-Tasman crossing out of necessity, with his racing future in Victoria bleak at best following a series of indiscretions.

Bans at The Meadows, Sandown Park and Shepparton forced Shaw's hand.

His decision to roll the dice and give Chief Dribble a second chance on the track has resulted in a stunning G1 transformation, with the finish-on lure the obvious catalyst.

After running fifth at his NZ debut, Chief Dribble has won eight of his next 13 starts, culminating in his runaway triumph in the NZ $80,000 Silver Collar, a gruelling test of stamina.

Chief Dribble (box 5) started $2.50 favourite and led all-the-way,  lapping up every inch of the marathon journey, romping to a seven-length victory over Orson Blonde in a new track record of 46.01.

The previous record of 46.08 was set by Thrilling Quest in the 2011 Silver Collar heats.

"He's always been a very fast animal," Shaw said.

"I thought he was capable of breaking a track record and now he has!

"It was actually cheaper to send him to New Zealand than to wait and put him in the GAP here.

Chief Dribble racing away with the Silver Collar on Sunday Picture: Rhian Farrell

"I sent him over on the condition that Matt (Roberts) would rehome him.

"Right from his first trial in New Zealand, Matt was pretty excited.

"In his satisfactory trials, he was showing more early speed and running top grade short-course times.

"He was only a couple of lengths off track records over ‘500' and then when he stepped up to 600m he made a mess of them (scoring by 13 lengths at his 645m debut at Addington).

"About a month ago, he won the Kingston Cup, a Group 2 race over 732m, at Addington.

"Because he's so brilliant, the extra 50 or 60 metres of the Silver Collar was a bit of a query, but he put that question to bed!"

After being basically forced out of Australia, Chief Dribble could make the most unlikeliest of returns to his homeland, targeting NZ's berth in the G1 National Distance Championship, to be staged in Adelaide in August.

Chief Dribble's litter sister, Big Suzie, trained by Shaw, is a multiple G1 finalist and won the Listed Cup Night Stayers (715m) at Sandown on Melbourne Cup night.

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