Shima Song’s finest race track performance is also her last with connections immediately announcing her retirement following her brilliant all of the way victory in tonight’s group 2 McKenna Memorial.
Race favourite and five time group 1 winner Fanta Bale began beautifully from box three however Shima Song, drawn ideally in box 1, took full advantage of her rails draw to push through and lead through the first turn. The pair was joined by Bella Shima as they cleared away from the chasing pack down the back straight.
Positions remained unchanged as they charged through the driving rain, but as they turned for home Shima Song rolled off the fence and Fanta Bale switched to the rails. It set up a thrilling run to the line with Bella Shima chiming in down the middle of the track but Shima Song refused to buckle and held on record a memorable victory. Just a length separating the placegetters as they crossed the line.
“She’s the nicest girl, you couldn’t get a better dog,” said handler George Dailly.
“She always tries hard and to hold off a dog like Fanta Bale is a huge effort.”
The win was Shima Song’s 28th in 66 career starts and the $40,000 first prize catapulted her career earnings to $288,475. She has also been placed on 21 occasions throughout her remarkably consistent career which began more than 18 months ago, the last 12 months of which have seen her racing exclusively in top grade. Dailly believes that consistency is testament to her outstanding attitude and will to work.
“She goes out and works and does exactly what she needs to do. She does everything, she’s just beautiful.”
It was a sentiment echoed by Shima Song’s elated owner and breeder, David Gleeson, who had identified her as a talent very early in her education.
“She was an incredible dog, you’d open the back of the boxes and she’d run in. She was always down at the front and she’d fly out, you saw it tonight she began like a rocket. She very rarely misses the start,” he said.
“I thought down the back they’d start to take ground off her but they didn’t. The two strongest dogs in the field were sitting behind her and for her to show that toughness was so thrilling. I’m thrilled to bits.”
Gleeson also bred the third place getter Bella Shima who is a half-sister to the winner, and also raced their mother Shimaguni, a group 3 winner that finished fourth in this race in 2011. Claiming the club’s premier 595m event was a special thrill for the long time Sandown director who breeds and races his greyhounds in partnership with good friend Bob Cummings.
“He will be absolutely over the moon. He couldn’t come down tonight because he won’t leave the dogs at home on their own. He’s the best man in Australia when it comes to the handling of young dogs, there’s no one better. I’m sure that Bob will be thrilled to the back teeth.”
Despite only recently turning three years of age and racing in the best form of her career, Gleeson was certain that was the last time we’ll see her on the track. A home on the couch beckons before embarking on a breeding career.
“I wanted her to go out on a high. We’ll ease her out of the racing kennel and give her the rest that she deserves. I’m sure she’ll produce a few winners because she’s a faultless dog.”
Later in the evening, Worm Burner returned to Sandown Park for the first time since a career threatening stomach muscle injury and reminded all why he’s regarded as one of the country’s most exciting chasers. Despite finding trouble throughout the run, Worm Burner pushed his way between runners to claim his 43rd career victory and take his career prize money beyond $350,000.
Click here for full results
Shima Song wins her final career start, the group 2 McKenna Memorial