Curtain Closes On Ricci's Magnificent Career

SPRINTING juggernaut Flying Ricciardo has thrilled racing fans for the last time with the Group 1 winning superstar officially retired to stud.

Adam Dobbin

24 June 2021

SPRINTING juggernaut Flying Ricciardo has thrilled racing fans for the last time with the Group 1 winning superstar officially retired to stud.

Undisputedly one of the most gifted greyhounds to ever grace a race track, Flying Ricciardo retires as the winner at 22 of his 27 race starts with prize money of $236,000.

For owner-trainer Kristy Sultana, the decision to call time on the greyhound more affectionately known as ‘Ricci’ wasn’t easy but one she now admits she’s at peace with.

“After his injury in the Golden Easter Egg semi-finals we went down the stud path with him while he was recuperating and the response has been unbelievable,” Sultana said.

“In the end I just decided that he had nothing else to prove on the racetrack but it hasn’t been an easy decision at all.

“To do everything he did at such a young age was incredible and provided us with so many great memories. He’s a special, special greyhound.

Kristy Sultana following Flying Ricciardo’s 29.22 Golden Easter Egg heat victory

“And to share the ride with all the fans he gathered along the way, and raise funds for the Kids’ Cancer Project, made it even more enjoyable.”

Flying Ricciardo debuted at Bulli over 340m in May last year, breaking the track record with a breathtaking display in 18.91.

Adding to the exhilarating performance was the fact the son of Barcia Bale and Megalodon did so at just 17 months of age.

“Right from the get go he showed he was something special,” Sultana said.

“It didn’t matter where we took him or what the conditions were like, he’d just run time and give 110 percent.

“He’s obviously very gifted and loaded with talent but the thing for me that stands him out is his competitive nature. He’s the most beautifully natured greyhound but when he gets to the track he’s all business.”

Flying Ricciardo annexed his first big race success in the Group 2 Black Top at The Gardens last August, going perilously close to the track record in his heat.

From there the prodigious talent began his assault on the Million Dollar Chase, qualifying for the finale at just 22 months of age.

“He went into that series giving away so much age and experience and he’d been up for a long time as a young pup,” Sultana said.

“It really was a highlight and I’m sure when this year’s series gets underway I’ll be thinking what might have been.”

Flying Ricciardo’s crowning glory came at Dapto last December when he took out the Group 1 Megastar in a race record 29.48.

Adding even further merit to the performance was his heroics in giving four-time Group 1 winner Simon Told Helen a start and a beating in the showpiece event.

“It’s a night I’ll never forget … more for the way he did it than anything else,” Sultana said.

“To win it was one thing but to defeat a dog of Simon Told Helen’s standing definitely added to it.”

Late last year a tilt at the Group 1 Silver Chief in Victoria was thwarted with injury cruelling any prospects of a crack at the male classic.

The sprinting superstar returned to racing in March with sublime Maitland and Wentworth Park wins before recording a remarkable 29.22s in his heat of the Golden Easter Egg.

The effort was trademark ‘Ricci’, the ultimate demonstration of sustained speed.

“To know he retires as the second fastest greyhound to ever race at Wentworth Park means a lot,” Sultana said.

“Some of the best greyhounds we’ve seen have raced there so for him to run that sort of time confirmed what we already knew.

“That he’s a very special animal.”

Flying Ricciardo’s two other major wins were in the Gold Muzzle Auction events which the son of Barcia Bale was a graduate of in 2019.

Sultana purchased the wet behind the ears youngster for $7,500 with the hopes of winning a few races.

“But he’s changed my life and given me and the family so many great memories,” Sultana said.

“And now his stud journey begins which will bring us just as much joy I’m sure.

“The idea of a wave of baby Ricci’s running around in a year or two’s time is very exciting. I can’t wait actually.”

Flying Ricciardo is a raging favourite to be crowned 2020 NSW Greyhound of The Year which was to be announced this Sunday before Covid saw the gala event postponed.

“It would be another feather in his cap and an acknowledgement of how great he was on the track,” Sultana said.

“If he does receive that recognition it will mean the world to my Dad (Sam) who’s been the backbone behind Ricci along the way.”