A champion greyhound lives in the heartland of the Gippsland region, and his name is synonymous with sporting success.
Traralgon trained superstar Jesaulenko, named after AFL legend Alex Jesaulenko, is at the tempting odds of $6.50 to win the Group Two $67,000 Topcat Traralgon Cup for his breeder and trainer Terri Morris.
Morris said Jesaulenko was due to win his first group race after coming close a number of times during his career, which spans 60 starts for 27 wins and $266,000 in prize money.
“He’s been runner up in a couple big races now such as the Melbourne Cup and the Temlee, which are both Group 1 races, so I think he deserves to win one.
“He loves a challenge this dog, and once he gets out there and puts his game face on he means business,” Morris said.WATCH: Don’t Kid Me (box seven) and Jesaulenko (box eight) battle it out for first place in last weeks Traralgon Cup heats.
The three-year-old greyhound will exit box five in the 525 metre race on Saturday night, a draw normally dreaded by trainers, however Morris says it could work in Jesaulenko’s favour.
“I don’t mind box five. If he gets out as fast as he normally does it won’t matter,” she said.
The Traralgon trainer said Fabregal, trained by Lyn Smith of Nambrok, was the main danger on Saturday night after drawing box one. However she still rates her own dogs chances.
“If he gets out in front they won’t catch him. He is more than capable of winning,” she said.
It’s a big night for the Gippsland region this Saturday night as the town of Traralgon gets set to celebrate its local cup and be part of greyhound racing history. The Gippsland Carnival Champion Stayer and Champion Sprinter will finally be decided after the four-month carnival draws to a close having also incorporated the Sale, Warragul and Cranbourne Cups.
Jesaulenko is one of four greyhounds in contention to claim the title of the Gippsland Carnival’s Champion Sprinter.
Morris said the much-acclaimed Gippsland Carnival had been a welcome inclusion in greyhound racing circles throughout her local region.
“I love the Gippsland tracks and supporting these clubs, so this has been a great idea. It’s a great carnival and it’s created a lot of interest,” she said.
“It’s also a great boost for community and a good way to promote our industry,” she said.
Jesaulenko, who’s affectionately known as Scoot at home, is out of the very first litter of greyhounds that Terri and husband Scott ever bred.
Despite being a Richmond supporter, Morris chose the name Jesaulenko for her star greyhound knowing it would be a hit, and she certainly didn’t get any backlash from Carlton supporter and husband, Scott.
“I wanted to give him a name people would remember, and after giving it plenty of thought I settled on Jesaulenko,” said Terri, of Traralgon. “It’s a name that old timers remember and a name kids still scream out in the playground.”
“There’s also a lot of stirring from people on the sidelines on race day. People at the track are always yelling out ‘Jesaulenko – you beauty’, and I think it’s great.”
Morris has been on the committee for the Traralgon Greyhound Racing Club for the last two years and said she was excited to see Jesaulenko enter the next phase of his career – as a stud dog.
“He’s just served a very well-bred girl, so his stud career has just begun. This is a nice little start to something new for him.”