Story by Victoria Shaw
A stormy sky set the scene for an emphatic victory in the World’s Richest Greyhound Race – The TAB Melbourne Cup, which was held at Sandown Park during the thundery evening of November 24th.
It provided a dramatic backdrop for another two major sporting milestones with female participation; all on the same race card!
Seona Thompson, Greyhound trainer from Pearcedale in Victoria, cut a powerful figure as she was the first to lead out her Melbourne Cup contender and race favourite – Aston Dee Bee. No doubt Seona would have been very pleased with the faith that punters placed in her hound, by backing him into favouritism as well as drawing box one. However, this also added to the pressure on a woman who currently heads up one of the most successful kennels in the world, as well as having another Greyhound in the race to worry about – Bewildering, who was to start from box six.
Arguably, one of the best race fields ever assembled for the running of the world’s richest Greyhound race since its inauguration in the Olympic Year of 1956, this year’s Melbourne Cup did very well to avoid some unhelpful weather. As most readers would be well aware, dogs natural aversion to thunder and lightning activity can see them losing complete control of their senses out of fear. However to both the Greyhound’s and their Trainers’ credit, the assembled Melbourne Cup field never faltered in anyway as such is the level of concentration and desire to chase as only a Greyhound can.
Over the distance of 515 metres, which has the Melbourne Cup Greyhounds start at the top of the Sandown Park home straight and with another lap to complete, the field stepped into action almost flying out of the starting boxes to the roar of the huge crowd. Aston Dee Bee began very well, however Raw Ability and Up Hill Jill speared forward together vying for an early lead with the Richmond Oaks winner Up Hill Jill, in front at the judge the first time by nearly two lengths, with Raw Ability in the blue between them.
As the tightly packed field negotiated the first turn, Aston Dee Bee sensed he had a job to do and powered his way to the lead upon straightening up with a railing run, taking Kouta Mayhem into second place down the back of the track, while Up Hill Jill looked to have been checked twice, causing her to drop back sharply after such a bold start. From that point on Aston Dee Bee was four lengths clear for the remainder of the race, taking his connections and trainer, Seona Thompson to a $600,000 dollar victory and a place in racing history. Chasin Cracker’s finished second and Kouta Mayhem third, whilst Aston Dee Bee’s kennel mate Bewildering, finished fourth. Aston Dee Bee’s win was in a blistering 29.36 seconds! With just over 500 female Greyhound trainers licensed in Victoria, it was a wonderful victory to add the ever impressive list of sporting achievements for women this year.
Only a couple of races prior to the Melbourne Cup, was the 715 metre event the Group 1 Bold Treace which gave Greyhound racing it’s third Millionaire!
Fanta Bale, raced to victory by taking out her seventh Group 1 and has both contested and won over a range of distances that no other Greyhound has been able to achieve. Her trainer Robert Britton recently commented, “She isn’t the fastest Greyhound I’ve ever trained, but she is what I call a one-pacer. She begins pretty well and is able to maintain that speed over whatever distance, which makes her very unique. She also has an enormous will to win.”
Fanta Bale’s victory in the Bold Treace began with a speedy start from box three, however she was content to let Petunia Monelli and Champagne Sally lead the race early, then after a lap Fanta Bale unleashed her run and wowed the on course crowd with her determination as she swept to the lead leaving the remainder of the field behind. A big buildup on social media that provided Fanta Bale with the opportunity to collect even more fans going into the Bold Treace, Fanta Bale raced her way to a total stakes earnings of $1,094,170.00 to date. Only Australian Greyhounds Fernando Bale ($1,299,370.00) and Dyna Double ($1,160,316.00) have won more stakes money, providing Australian Greyhound racing with the world’s highest stakes earners. As Fanta Bale has not retired since taking out the Bold Treace, her winning capacity could see her yet run to the top!