Our Topgun experience: An insight into the biggest night of the Talgi family's lives

Sarah Talgi watched her dad’s young superstar greyhound Schillaci race for the first time in the flesh in Saturday night’s $233,250 Group 1 Sportsbet Topgun (525m).

Sportsbet Topgun

Dream Chasers

14 Nov

Sarah Talgi watched her dad’s young superstar greyhound Schillaci race for the first time in the flesh in Saturday night’s $233,250 Group 1 Sportsbet Topgun (525m).

The build up to the race for Schillaci and the Talgi family was enormous, with the racing media swept up in the romance of little-known hobby trainer and pizza shop owner Jihad Talgi having a runner in one of the most prestigious races of the year.

The Topgun was the main event on the opening night of the 2023 Dream Chasers Festival, and the big occasion saw the Talgis head to The Meadows as a family for the first time in 20 years to watch the greyhound that Jihad bred, owns and trains compete for a $150,000 first prize.

Drawn in box one, Schillaci, the South Australian Derby winner with 10 wins from just 15 starts, was one of the best backed runners in the Topgun at $3.80, and he eventually finished fourth to Transponder.

“Dad was sitting next to me the entire night,” Sarah said.

“Even though he was all smiles with a beer in hand, I could tell he was, in his own head, thinking about the endless possibilities that a Schillaci win might bring.

“People constantly approached him, congratulating him on having a runner in the Topgun and wishing him good luck. I could feel his nerves, anticipation and general excitement for being part of such a monumental race.

“Schillaci was at the forefront of my mind the whole night; how was he feeling? I had let him out earlier in the day before dad took him to The Meadows and gave him a cuddle and an ear scratch telling him how much of a good boy he is.

“As the night went on it was time for dad to leave to get ready for the showstopper (the Topgun).

“The 20 odd people with us comprised of family and close friends. We all wished dad luck and off he went. If he was nervous, he sure as hell didn’t show it. By 9:15pm, the Schillaci fan club headed downstairs to see our boy in action. I looked at mum (Fiona) and I could tell she was freaking out. Unlike dad, she can’t hide how she feels. She kept saying how nervous she was, and my sister Jaida (15) was nervy too and repeatedly asked “I wonder how dad’s feeling?”.

“My little brother Jaxson (12), on the other hand, was as cool as a cucumber. Dad has involved him in a lot of sporting events so he’s used to the hype.

“My nerves didn’t kick in until I watched him being put into his box and, at that point, my legs felt like jelly and my hands went clammy; I just wanted him to be safe and have a good run.

“He came out of box 1 in great Schillaci fashion, but unfortunately he ran 4th. Regardless, we’re so incredibly proud of dad and our little champion for what they’ve both achieved thus far.”

It was announced on Friday, the day before the Topgun, that Ladbrokes had selected Schillaci as its runner in the world’s richest greyhound race, the $1.65 million The Phoenix.

A slot holder event now entering its third year, The Phoenix will be run at The Meadows on Saturday 16 December, carrying a life-changing first prize of $1 million.

“It’s unbelievable to think Schillaci is going to compete in The Phoenix thanks to Ladbrokes,” Sarah added.

“And to say our nerves will be at an all-time high for the next month is the understatement of the century.”


The Sportsbet Dream Chasers Festival is back!

With over $4.1 million in prize money up for grabs, The Meadows and Sandown Park again play host to these blockbuster events, including the $1million Group 1 Sportsbet Melbourne Cup and the most exciting race in greyhound racing, The Phoenix.



Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

Sportsbet Topgun

The Meadows

The Sportsbet Topgun is sensational night of action with three Group 1 races. Watch Australia's best hand-picked greyhounds battle it out for over $500,000 in prizemoney.

The Shootout

Sandown Park

The Shootout is Australia’s speed championship, with four of the fastest greyhounds in the country racing for top honours.

Melbourne Cup Heats

Sandown Park

Melbourne Cup Heats night is possibly the best quality night of racing in the world with 8 x heats featuring the best dogs in the country.

Melbourne Cup

Sandown Park

The Sportsbet Melbourne Cup is considered the world's greatest greyhound race, carrying $1M in prizemoney and boasting an honour roll that's unrivalled.

The Phoenix

The Meadows

Not only is The Phoenix the newest, most exciting race in the calendar, it's the richest greyhound race in the world, with a total prize pool of $1.65million and a $1 million winner’s cheque.