Rangiora couple Alison Lee and Merv O’Brien have arrived in Melbourne to watch their 28 month old pride and joy, Above All, take his place in the final of the Group One Melbourne Cup at Sandown on Friday night.
Their excitement is palpable as they describe how they feel about getting a dog they have bred into the final of one of Australia’s biggest races.
“Amazing isn’t it.
“It’s hard to believe that it’s a dog we bred ourselves and it is just amazing really, it is kind of like a dream, actually it is a dream. When we first got into greyhounds it was a dream when we first came over to Australia to race a dog. To believe that this (Melbourne Cup) is actually happening, is amazing,” Lee said.
Above All’s mother Kara Janx was bred by Lee and O’Brien and was whelped in 2007. She faced the starter 34 times for seven wins and eight placings. She won all her races at Addington over the 520m distance.
Others in Above All’s litter include About Town, Eckles, Minnie Bannister and Neddy Seagoon. Not including Above All, the rest of the litter have won 14 races between them across the ditch in New Zealand.
Above All came to Australia with just two starts under his belt. His first start resulted in a win over 295m at Addington in June of this year. That win was then followed by a fall at his next start at the same track. He then popped up in Robert Britton’s kennels in and had his first start in Australia in September at Sandown, winning first-up in 29.33. He has gone on to record another three wins at Sandown (including the heat win last week) and one at The Meadows. That brings his career tally to six wins from 10 starts.
Robert Britton trained Clone Your Own for Lee and O’Brien so they had no hesitation sending Above All over.
Clone Your Own was a success winning a number of races in Victora and taking out the Group Two Harrison-Dawson in 2013. His mother, Elie Saab, is a litter sister to Kara Janx.
“It was a real easy decision to send the dog over, they are such nice people, really great and he is a lovely guy. So there were no second thoughts about sending him to Robbie,” Lee said.
Lee and O’Brien take their breeding choices seriously and plenty of thought was given to choosing Magic Sprite as a sire.
“I’m a great believer in the Waroo Lass line through National Lass and I just try and cram as much of that as I can if I’m in a position to. At the time I bought the straw, Magic Sprite was $880 and it’s a gamble you take on an unproven sire but you have to do what you think is best for the bitch and not what’s best for Merv and Ali. The selection comes first. We are in it for breeding we aren’t in it for our own personal “I like that dog”. You have to do what is best for her (Kara Janx) and I believed Magic Sprite was for her.
“Clone Your Own’s mum, we mated her to Magic Sprite as well because Kara Janx and Elie Saab are litter sisters and unfortunately she missed and she’s had big big litters previously. This was going to be her last litter. So the next one I was looking at was Oaks Road. It’s what suits our girls and that’s all that counts, that’s the most important thing,” O’Brien told ARG.
It has been 40 years since Kwik Metal, a chaser from New Zealand, won the Melbourne Cup. Above All will be looking to create history again on Friday night and it would be great to see it happen for his dedicated owners.