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The race that stops the greyhound world

 Nov 18 2013

It may have never stopped a nation, but each year, on a November Thursday, the greyhound racing world pauses for a moment, transfixed on their Melbourne Cup.

Not only is it the most coveted trophy, but from humble beginnings, the TAB Melbourne Cup now boasts something its thoroughbred namesake cannot – it is the code's richest race in the world.

In numerical terms the $350,000 to this year's winner, dwarfs the 200 pounds the connections of Footlight Flashes collected for their 1933 Melbourne Cup win, but with the nation in the depths of the great depression, that payday too, was monstrous.

After 22 years as a coursing event at Napier Park, the Sandown club with its new track and tin hare, decided to make the Melbourne Cup its flagship event, with Rocketeer winning that 1956 Cup and the accompanying 500 pounds.

The Cup rapidly became the most sought after race on the calendar, with both entrants and prize-money soaring through the 1960s.                                                  

The 1970s saw a Kiwi win the Cup when Kwik Metal, a $30 purchase as a pup, stunned the locals in 1974. The decade also saw winning prize money surpass $10,000, the race shown live on television, and some true stars of the sport, the likes of Tangaloa and Acclaim Star, have their names engraved on the trophy.


To celebrate the running of the 2013 TAB.COM.AU Melbourne Cup, Sky Racing is pleased to announce an open access period in which Sky Racing 2 (Channel 520) will be free to access for all Foxtel subscribers on the day of the world's richest greyhound race, Thursday November 21. Click for more.


The brilliant Black Aztec, a $4000 pup, eventually be sold to the US for $250,000, was the first Cup winner of the 1980s, and the following year Graeme Bate won his first Cup with Satan's Shroud, and would add another with Fair Sentence in 1989.

One of the sport's greatest, Highly Blessed, opened the 1990s with a dazzling seven length Melbourne Cup win and just 12 months later, Fox Hunt won the Cup by nine lengths, still the biggest winning margin in Cup history.

Not only were the wins larger, so too had the prize-money grown. Fox Hunt's owners collected $50,000, then, when Henry Hand won in 1996, the cheque which accompanied the Cup was worth $100,000.

The term superstar is bandied about recklessly in sport, but nobody would argue 1998 Cup winner Rapid Journey deserved the label.

That year Rapid Journey won the Adelaide Cup, Perth Cup, Golden Easter Egg, and National Sprint Championship, then the Melbourne Cup, before heading into retirement after winning the Topgun the following month.

The century closed with Graeme Bate not only winning his third cup, but with Kantarn Bale, Devon Road, and Flying Law he trained the trifecta.

The brilliant Go Wild Teddy added the Cup to his feature race resume in 2000, but in 2003 Bombastic Shiraz not only won a Cup, he won a crown.

The Darren Cairns trained champion won the Cup, the Shootout, and the Topgun, to this day still the only greyhound to snare the Triple-Crown.

In 2004, Darren McDonald won the first of his three Melbourne Cups with the brilliant Hallucinate, giving owner Tony 'Plugger' Lockett, a handy after football payday.

McDonald won again with Shanlyn Prince in 2007 and Surgeon in 2008, and in 2010 the hulking 39kgs of El Grand Senor dashed around Sandown to win his third group one of the year.

 Many dream of one Cup runner, but in 2011 owner/breeder Paul Wheeler had seven finalists. Not surprisingly he collected the $200,000 winner's cheque when Dyna Tron, one of Andrea Dailly's four runners, won in race record time of 29.21.

Last year, another Cup, and more history with Jason Thompson's Got A Moment winning a staggering $350,000 for his owners.

Nineteen years after he won his first Cup with Light of Fire, Thompson now had another and on Thursday night when he puts pre-race favourite Black Magic Opal into the boxes, he will be hoping his Cup wait this time around, will have been only 12 months.

It is the holy grail of greyhound racing, the 2013 TAB Melbourne Cup, the richest greyhound race in the world.



By Michael Cowley

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