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'David vs Goliath' showdown in Australian Cup Final

 Mar 1 2016

Australians are renowned for their love of the underdog in any sporting event and this Saturday night at The Meadows, Jason Thompson will step into the ring against the might of Australia’s biggest greyhound owner and breeder, Paul Wheeler, in a winner-take-all battle worth $250,000.

Thompson has long been regarded as one of the best conditioners of a greyhound in Australia and chasers of the ilk of Light Of Fire, Awesome Assassin, El Galo and Black Magic Opal are just some of the notables that have had the ‘JT’ touch applied to them.

Last Saturday night at The Meadows was one of Thompson’s finest moments as a trainer and one of the greatest training performances I have ever witnessed. At the end of the night, he had prepared the winners of five of the eight heats of the G1 Australian Cup, as well as supplying two seconds and one third, all from just ten runners.

Given his past success in the industry, many people are often mistaken in their assumption that Thompson has literally hundreds of greyhounds in training – the truth of the matter is that at his Pearcedale property, there are just twenty one greyhounds in the racing kennels, confirming even more so the enormity of his feats last week.

Check out the full market for the G1 Australian Cup Final here.

But Thompson admits he would quickly swap winning all five heats of the Cup in a heartbeat, if it meant he could secure his first victory in a race which has so far eluded him in his celebrated career.

“The Australian Cup is the one race that I just haven’t been able to crack but it’s not been through a lack of trying and I think if I can’t win it this year it may just never be,” said Thompson.

“Even though we have five runners in the final, we will be taking on a greyhound that I think is a champion in Dyna Double One, so if one of my team were to win it, it will make it even more special.” 

Dyna Double One, Diego Bale and Ernest Bale are all products of the Wheeler breeding empire and Paul Wheeler is as accustomed to winning Group 1 events as I am to missing the last leg of a quaddie – a very regular occurrence.      

No sooner had Fernando Bale abdicated the throne as the best chaser in Australia than DDO was anointed in his place.

In 2015, Dyna Double One won the G1 Melbourne Cup (running down Fernando Bale in the closing stages) and the G1 Brisbane Cup…trainer Andrea Dailly recently stepped him up to the middle distance trip and he immediately broke long-standing track records at Sandown Park and The Meadows before easily defeating Moreira (who is also in the Australian Cup final) in the G1 Rookie Rebel just two weeks ago.

The one thing you can be certain of is that Dyna Double One will not be leading at the first turn in the Australian Cup final and where he is at that point in time, could well determine whether he claims his fourth Group 1 title or not.

Thompson believes Aston Bolero is one of the fastest beginners in Australia despite posting an average 5:05 first split last week, a length slower than kennelmate Pop The Cork, who ran blistering early sectionals of 4:98 and 17:54.

“While I think Pop The Cork is the best of our chances given the way he went last week and the fact he has come up with the perfect draw, I think Aston Bolero is the key to the race,” said Thompson.

“I honestly believe he can quite easily run low 4.90’s to the post the first time and if he does that, there’s no other dog in the field that could lead him. If that happens, dogs like Pop The Cork and Dyna Double One then have to race their way through or around the field but Aston Bolero might be off and gone by that stage.”

I’m truly in a quandary as to what to tip on top in the Australian Cup final and while there’s little doubt that one of Jason Thompson’s greyhounds will lead at the first turn, the bookies pay out on who is first to the winning post the second time around.

I’ve had a decent ‘dog crush’ on Dyna Double One for a long time now and the reasons to tip him are compelling when you examine his record at The Meadows, and from box 2.

Seven times he has worn the black and white striped rug of box 2 and seven times he has been victorious.

At The Meadows, he has raced over the 525m trip on 16 occasions for 10 wins and 5 minor placings – his P.B. at the track is 29.43 (less than a length outside the track record) and on seven occasions, he has run between 29.43 and 29.65 – his run-home sectional times are ‘airborne’ and you can also add that he is the owner of track records at Albion Park (520m), Sandown (595m) and The Meadows (600m).

If Dyna Double One doesn’t win, I would not be disappointed one iota to see Jason Thompson claim his first Australian Cup with any of his five runners – it is the one trophy missing from his mantelpiece which I hope one day will take pride of place.

The G1 Australian Cup is one of the jewels-in-the-crown on the Australian greyhound racing calendar and I’m tipping Dyna Double One from Pop The Cork, Aston Bolero and Diego Bale.

I’ll be live trackside at The Meadows this Saturday night on Sky Racing1 (Ch519) with all the latest information, interviews with the leading trainers and late mail tips on what promises to be a sensational night of greyhound racing.

Good luck and good punting!

Mark Duclos - Sky Racing

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