Noel has last laugh at owners who rejected Benali offer

(Each month Chase puts the spotlight on a person and/or their ‘best friend’ – a story that gives an insight into the true heart of greyhound racing. It showcases all that is good in this sport and is a monthly tribute to much-loved greyhound identity Daryl ‘Albert’ Gleeson)


WARRNAMBOOL breeder Noel Mugavin is nothing but loyal.

Back in early 2020 he had just retired a dog called Benali (Barcia Bale-Born Ali).

Noel figured his dog, the winner of 24 races and $186,000,  had to appeal to broodbitch owners as a potential mate for their females.

And why wouldn’t he?

Benali was by the champion sire Barcia Bale, his mother Born Ali was a Group 1 winner and seven times a Group finalist, his four littermates included Group 1 Bold Trease winner Barcali and Group 3 winner Janali.

Benali, on the track ran 29.29 at Wentworth Park to be, at the time, the fastest son of Barcia Bale at Sydney’s premier track.

He had twice won the Group 3 Perth Cup Consolation and been a finalist at Group 1 level in the Sandown Cup, Albion Park Gold Cup and Rookie Rebel.

Noel had every right to believe the semen collections he got from Benali would be well received.

“I offered his semen to quite a few breeders as a free service,” Noel said. “I didn’t hear back from any of them.

“I suppose they were all looking for the Group 1 winner, a commercial stud dog to put value to their pups.

“But I had confidence in him.”

And so did the dog’s trainer, Victorian legend Robbie Britton.

“Robbie just loves the dog, loves his temperament and certainly his chase,” Noel said.

Britton had trained champion staying bitch Fanta Bale to a multitude of Group wins and $1.3 million in stakes.

But Robbie also had for himself a litter sister to Fanta Bale called Erelda Bale (David Bale-Ucme Typhoon). She could gallop and Robbie had already bred litters from her in 2018 and 2019 by Fernando Bale and Cosmic Rumble.

All but one of those litters won and three of the Fernandos showed ability, including Lily Pad (17 wins, $55,000) and Buddy Guy (18 wins, $34,000).

Robbie mated her to Benali and got six pups. He gave a dog and a bitch to Noel and kept four himself.

“Robbie was very bullish about using Benali,” Noel said. “Just weeks after the litter was born he was already ringing me up to say how nice the pups were. Robbie said he had never had pups like them.

“He would even take videos of them and send to me.”

By 12 months, Robbie had some of the litter trialling at The Meadows and was staggered at how good they were going.

“He needed to hold them back because they were three of four months off being able to race,” Noel said.

When that time came, the litter exploded onto the track and instantly hit the headlines. Three made a maiden final at Sandown – Cash It In, Francis Benali and Quick Smart; the latter running 29.25 in a semi of that race.

Everyone was instantly talking about Benali at stud.

Britton was the first to admit it was the hardest chasing of Erelda Bale’s three litters and he instantly booked in a mating to Benali with Biodiesel, a Djays Octane bitch he had bought from the US.

Since that maiden series the Benali-Erelda Bale littermates Cash It In, Francis Benali, Quick Smart and Fast Milkman have kept winning.

Wheel And Go has raced once but the Britton kennel has him earmarked as a future stayer.

And all of a sudden Noel Mugavin has had broodbitch owners chasing semen for Benali.

Three went to New Zealand. Shane Fisher whelped a litter from Cell Block Tango, a bitch Britton had rated highly, while Gavin Kearns put Loud Lana to Benali to reinforce the famous Val Matese damline from which they both stem.

“I’ve got 15 straws left,” a now-beaming Noel Mugavin said. “But, unfortunately, Benali died six months ago of a heart attack.”

The Mugavin family has been breeding great greyhounds for decades.

“I can understand breeders wanting to use Group 1 winners at stud,” he said. “But Benali had the bloodlines, temperament and, especially, the chase to make it at stud.

“He just needed the faith of someone like Robbie Britton to use him and put him on the map.

“And, that’s what he has done. The fact Robbie has used him again just shows what he thinks of the litter out of Erelda Bale by Benali.

“It is very, very pleasing to see the ability he has passed on to this litter.”

And for sure and certain, those breeders Noel Mugavin approached a couple of years ago about using Benali will have noticed as well.



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