Super mum is an idolised Cup crusader

Mum’s the word! Idolize – the sport’s ‘Australian Idol’ – is chasing a $650,000 comeback dream!

‘Super mum’ Idolize with Natalie and Peter Presutto and 10-month-old pups.
‘Super mum’ Idolize with Natalie and Peter Presutto and 10-month-old pups. Picture: Clint Anderson

The super mum is seeking stardom in the 'Holy Grail' – the $1.008m Group 1 Sportsbet Melbourne Cup (515m) – (Race 10, 9.50pm) at Sandown Park on Saturday night.

Amazingly, it's only 10 months since Idolize whelped a litter of three pups sired by retired superstar Shima Shine.

But last week, she qualified for one of greyhound racing's 'grand slams'.

Idolize was the slowest of the eight Melbourne Cup heat winners in 29.72sec.

But the enormity of the win tugged at the heart strings of her proud Devon Meadows trainer, retired carpenter Peter Presutto, and his close-knit clan.

"Initially, there was no intention of racing her again," Presutto said.

"But she could hear the rest of our racing dogs working and just wanted to go. The comeback was just to keep her happy.

"However, she needed to lose around 5-6 kilograms. We had to get the weight off her."

Presutto added there was more than one occasion he questioned his decision in returning Idolize to racing.

"We were thinking, are we doing the right thing. We were hoping we wouldn't be left with 'egg on our face'.

"When I was working her up, I was particular with where I wanted her to return. I just didn't want to start her in any old race. I took my time, and she had to tick every box.

"But she was 'humming'. It was a relief when she came back and won first up."

Greyhound racing is a family affair for Presutto. His wife, Natalie, and sons – James, 30, Aaron, 27, and Daniel, 25 – along with James' wife, Renata, all play pivotal roles.

And let's not forget the Presuttos close friends, Michelle and Justin Nolan who own and bred – and totally idolise – Idolize. (NB. Michelle trains Get Ready Dora which will chase a $105,000 winner's cheque in the G1 Bold Trease.)

Presutto added winning the Melbourne Cup would be the "ultimate pinnacle" and something "I've always wanted".

"It would be overwhelming. It's not the money so much; it's about the sacrifice day in, day out.

"All those years dragging the kids around, the hard times. It would be justification for all the hard work that's been put in.

"And Idolize is an 'angel'. She cuddles into you; she's completely calm and relaxed. She gives us so much enjoyment and makes our days doing the dogs better.

"You need passion in this game, and she tends to make it so much easier. She gives us the passion to succeed."

Idolize will exit box six in the final and is $20 on Sportsbet's fixed odds market.

"I don't completely mind the 'green' trap but would have preferred her closer to the rails," Presutto said.

"She needs to get across and get to the front, but if Big Energy or Tim Zoo 'turn up', she'll be a sitting duck. But she's tenacious and she's got a few gears.

"We're also still trying to get a bit of weight off her, even though she thrives on work. I'd like her around 27kg but she's around 28kg. Motherhood has changed her shape; she looks physically stronger."

Presutto believes Idolize is going just as good as she was prior to becoming a mother.

"She hasn't found anything, but she hasn't lost anything. In fact, she's beginning quicker."

He concedes Idolize isn't the fastest dog in the race but says, "she's a competitive beast". "When the pressure is on, she can go into another gear."

Idolize is a winner of 26 races from 55 starts and $336,400 in prizemoney and chasing her second G1 success, having snared last year's National Futurity in Sydney. Now a five-time G1 finalist, Idolize also won the 2022 G2 Laurels Classic and was runner-up in the 2022 G1 Temlee.

She's also a daughter of a Melbourne Cup winner – My Redeemer (2018). Can she emulate 'dad'?

"I hope so," Presutto said. "She can if everything goes well, and she has a bit of luck. She's got no hope sitting at home, she's in the race."

Yes, a Melbourne Cup win would be the 'mother' of all performances!

Presutto says Idolize will "probably race on until she shows she can't be competitive at Group level".

"Then she'd be retired and have a spot in our bedroom."