The History Of The Adelaide Cup

From its humble beginnings the Group 1 Sky Channel Adelaide Cup has now become the stepping-stone
to stardom for some of Australia’s household names in greyhound racing.

The first Adelaide Cup was held at Waterloo Corner in 1956 and won by the Fred Grimes-owned Oakland Chief. From Waterloo Corner the cup was moved to Bolivar, near the current Globe Derby trotting complex before taking pride of place at South Australia’s headquarters for greyhound racing, Angle Park, in 1972.

And it didn’t take long for the ‘boy from Broken Hill’, the late, great Doug Payne to etch his name into the archives of Adelaide Cup history.

Payne won the first three Adelaide Cups held at Angle Park – Bristol Miss (1972), Valjuka (1973) and Bristol Sue (1974) – a record that has never been equalled. Revered in SA for his dominance of the SA training ranks, winning a record 14 training premierships, Payne always rated Bristol Sue as the best greyhound he ever trained.

When one considers some of the big names who passed through his kennel – Ascapella Miss, Red Pulse, Fullock’s Fancy, Yodel High, Harada’s Pick Bristol Chant and Bristol Miss – Bristol Sue certainly had something going for her.

Former Gawler Greyhound Racing Club chairman, Bernie Neal, was successful in the 1974 Adelaide Cup with Turn Pillage before a three-year dominance by Victorian trained greyhounds of SA’s biggest race started.

Golden Spur (1976), Cavalier Queen (1977) and Riviera Tiger (1979), in controversial circumstances, broke the drought for interstate kennels.

Riviera Tiger’s win created headlines Australia-wide when the Adelaide Cup was declared a no-race and was re-run the following week after the lure had broken down. The controversy arose as greyhounds who were engaged in that year’s final were also engaged in heats of the Australian Cup at Olympic Park but, because of the no-race, were forced to miss that series to return to Adelaide for the cup re-run.

Following Riviera Tiger’s win SA again dominated its premier sprint race for the next seven years.

The Clem Mitchell-trained Encanto, a natural front runner, was successful in 1979 before the Howard Gray-trained Youthful Prince, who was owned by a syndicate of 20 headed by former Adelaide Greyhound Racing Club committeeman, and since Greyhound Racing SA board member, Leon Chapman, won the race in 1980.

Colin Wachtel, now a household name in greyhound racing circles, won the 1981 Adelaide Cup with rank outsider Lady Tornquest who, in pre-post betting was a 100/1 chance to win the race. Then based in the Riverland, Wachtel still rates Lady Tornquest, who went on to win the AGRC and Gawler Anniversary Cups as one of the best greyhounds he has trained.

The Cyril Boston-trained Smithy’s Belle won the cup in 1982 before the ambitiously named Superstar won in 1983. Trained by Darrell Johnstone, who later became a part owner of Australian ‘superstar’, Brett Lee, Superstar lived up to his name by not only winning the Adelaide Cup but also the 1983 AGRC Anniversary Cup and also representing SA in the 1983 National Sprint Championship at the now defunct
Gabba circuit.

With greyhound racing thriving in SA during the mid 1980s, the win by the Blair Cross-trained Knocklaun Gold in 1984 set a new benchmark at Angle Park. Knocklaun Gold, in winning his heat of the cup, became the first greyhound to break the 30-second barrier in a race – clocking 29.99.

Knocklaun Gold also holds the distinction of being the shortest record holder in the history of SA, and probably Australian, greyhound racing when, just 20-minutes later that time went by the wayside with the record being lowered to 29.74.

The Gary Mellor-trained Thundering Two, one of SA’s best young greyhounds to grace the Angle Park circuit took out the 1985 cup to cap off a memorable year for the Mellor kennel. A year earlier Thundering Two had won the Colin Viney Memorial Champion Puppy, the SA Derby, the WA Young Star Classic and also the Gawler Produce Stake.

The Alan Kelly-trained Farquhar took out the 1986 Adelaide Cup before the well-bred Joe Hili-trained Club Edition ran a race-record 29.94 in winning the cup in 1987. Bev Hall, and her partner Charlie Merrett, were colourful characters in SA greyhound racing during the 1980s and they combined to win the Adelaide Cup in 1988 with High Wonder.

The 1988 Adelaide Cup was the first time the race was held in January – a place it now firmly holds on the Australian greyhound racing calendar.

After winning the first three Adelaide Cups at Angle Park the ‘Meadows Maestro’, Doug Payne, broke a 14-year drought when rank outsider Kuriarkin, owned by the late Bill Hocking, was successful in 1989.

Payne often referred to Kuriarkin’s win as one of his greatest training achievements. Drawn awkwardly in box four, Kuriarkin, who had only scraped into the field, flew the traps to snare the early lead before taking advantage of a first-turn scrimmage to score in 30.44 and, in doing so, landing some very nice wagers for loyal kennel supporters.

With the prizemoney for the Adelaide Cup on the spiral, SA’s premier race was becoming a ‘must’ for the leading interstate kennels.

The Gerry O’Keefe-trained Sandi’s Me Mum, winner of the 1989 National Sprint Championship, was the star attraction for the 1990 Adelaide Cup and she delivered the goods running out an easy three-length winner over the Payne-trained Packard in 30.23.

O’Keefe, one of the industry’s gentlemen, was always receptive to the media and one of the best advertisements for greyhound racing was his promotional shot leading into that year’s cup – a man and his dog – O’Keefe and Sandi’s Me Mum stretched out in bed having an afternoon ‘kip’.

Following her Adelaide Cup win, Sandi’s Me Mum confirmed her status as one of Australia’s all time great bitches by winning her second National Sprint Championship.

Another of Australia’s highly-feted bitches, the Doug Ferrami-trained Highly Blessed and a slick 29.95 in winning the 1991 cup before the Ray Cunneen-trained South Road Sid ran a race record 29.83 in winning the 1992 cup.

With three victories on the trot in the Adelaide Cup it again was SA’s turn when the Joe Perovic-trained Croation Star became the youngest winner of an Adelaide Cup when scoring a 30.17 win in 1993. At just over two years of age, Croation Star defeated a classy line up which included Gun Law Osti and 1993 National Sprint Champion, Casino Tom.

Don and Helen Foster, one of SA’s most successful husband and wife teams, landed the 1994 cup with Perplexed in a new race-record time of 29.49. On occasions injury-prone, Perplexed flew the traps to lead throughout and beat Golden Currency, who deadheated in the inaugural Topgun, and Golden Mike, who also was owned and trained by the Fosters.

In the twilight of his career, Golden Mike, who had won the 1992 Gawler Gold Cup, was very gallant in defeat. Perplexed also holds the distinction of being the last SA-trained greyhound to win the Adelaide Cup.

Since 1994, interstate raiders have won the $50,000 winners’ cheque. In 1995 New South Wales tasted its first success in the Adelaide Cup when Forest Fin, a son of arguably one of SA’s finest sprinters, Ginger, ran a new race-record of 29.33 in beating Jurassic Vapour and Golden Currency.

1995 also heralded another amazing piece of history for SA’s only Group 1 feature.

In finishing second the John Keep-trained Jurassic Vapour had just started to make his mark on the Adelaide Cup. Based in Queensland, Keep vowed to return again in 1996 to try and avenge Jurassic Vapour’s defeat.

True to his word, Keep did come back and Jurassic Vapour was successful in beating the Both Barrels in 29.55.

Despite his rising years, and having competed at the highest level for almost two seasons, Jurassic Vapour returned to SA in 1997 to again tackle the cup. A third placing behind the Merv Patching-trained Rare Deceit and Grand Illusion was enough for Jurassic Vapour to snare his piece of Adelaide Cup glory.

He is the only greyhound to have won, and been placed in two Adelaide Cups, in three consecutive years – a feat which may never be equalled.

Rare Deceit’s Cup win, like that of Riviera Tiger in 1978, was shrouded with controversy when a no-race was declared in one of the heats, necessitating a re-run the following Monday night to allow the final to be staged on the Thursday night. Ironically, it was Rare Deceit’s heat which was declared the no-race and, after winning the re-run and drawing box one for the final, she proved too classy in leading throughout.

However, it was the no race, which destroyed the Adelaide Cup aspirations of two of SA greyhound racing’s stalwarts – Brian Lee and Edlin Lienert. Lee and Lienert owned star SA sprinter Oak Raider who crashed into the outside running rail when the lure failed and was scratched from the re-run.

Twelve months later Oak Raider won through to the Adelaide Cup final but in his swansong, was no match for Australia’s emerging superstar, Rapid Journey. Trained by Jane Carruthers, Rapid Journey had little form leading into the cup series but, after a power-packed performance to land an effortless 9.5-length win over Plumb Bob and Brookside Cindy, he was the name on everyone’s lips.

From Adelaide Cup glory, Rapid Journey went on to win the Australian Cup, Perth Cup, Golden Easter Egg and Melbourne Cup amassing almost $500,000 in prizemoney for the year. Now standing at stud, Rapid Journey’s progeny has really made its mark on the Australian racing scene.

The strong, wide-running Ken Welsh-trained Young Harrison took out the 1999 cup in one of the most open Adelaide Cup finals before history-making performances in 2000 and 2001.

Peter Giles, one of Australia’s leading mentors, had never tasted success in an Adelaide Cup but that changed with the turn of the century when Jack Junior record a track and race-record 29.32 win.

From Knocklaun Gold becoming the first greyhound to break the 30-second barrier at Angle Park in 1984 to Jack Junior’s track-record gallop in 2000, greyhound racing in SA had come a long way.

Late in 2000 greyhound racing circles were abuzz with the ‘new kid on the block’, Brett Lee. Greyhound Racing SA’s prime objective was to lure connections of Brett Lee to Angle Park. He was the hottest piece of property. Get Brett Lee to Angle Park and the crowd would be hanging from the rafters.

GRSA was successful in attracting Brett Lee to Adelaide. And, following a sizzling 28.96 solo trial around the Angle Park circuit, he was the cynosure of all eyes. Trained by Darren McDonald, Brett Lee won the Group 3 Interstate Challenge Cup before streeting his opposition in his heat of the Adelaide Cup.

Despite meeting a classy field in the final, which included recent Group 1 winners Classic Capri and No Intent, an air of expectancy hovered over the track as Brett Lee was paraded towards the boxes for the final. Drawn awkwardly in box three Brett Lee exploded from the boxes to lead throughout for a six length win over Classic Capri and Renzo Bale in a new race and track record 28.88 – yes, Brett Lee had become the first greyhound to officially break the 29-second barrier at Angle Park.

Like Rapid Journey, Brett Lee was destined for stardom with the Adelaide Cup providing the stepping stone. His 28.88 track record run was his fifth individual track record. Following his Adelaide Cup win Brett Lee went on to win the Australian Cup, Golden Easter Egg and Warrnambool Classic.

The Adelaide Cup honour roll contains the names of no less than four AGRA Hall of Famers Sandi’s Me Mum, Highly Blessed, Rapid Journey and Brett Lee.

Following Brett Lee local star Brookside Bear won the cup in 2002 recording 29.67 he was raced by Ray Borda and trained by Terry Cahalan Brookside Bear defeated Victorian’s champions Carlisle Jack & Henerik Bale.

In 2003 the Peter Dapiran trained Waterview Star defeated Melbourne Cup winner Excite Ability and Arvo’s Junior who later become a superstar of the staying ranks winning the National Distance Championship at Angle Park. Waterview Star ran a smart 29.34 but unfortunately had his career cut short due to serious injury.

Underrated Victorian sprinter Hotline Hero won the cup in 2004 and became the first group 1 success for outstanding trainer Kelvin Greenough. Raced by Greenough’s good friend Corey Siekman, the black and white chaser upstaged the more fancied finalists’ including long odds on ($1.50) favourite Big Daddy Cool and Hall of Fame superstar Bogie Leigh in 29.56. from box 4.

Darren McDonald returned in 2005 to win the cup with the talented Collide raced by AFL superstar Tony Lockett. Collide defeated Go For Forever and Black Lee in 29.52.

After another drought of local trained winners classy sprinter Miss Spicy upset a team of Victorians with a brilliant win in last years cup. The former Queenslander raced by Sarah Pringle was trained by Troy Murray who with his father Ray had enjoyed a long association with Pringle. Miss Spicy recorded 29.46 and proving it was no fluke when she also took out the Australian Cup in March only to have her career cut short in the lead up to the Easter Egg.

In 2007 Victorian Big Time Max ran down Airbourne Bale to win the cup brilliantly in 29.30. The talented sprinter begun well and stalked the leader for most of the trip before racing away in the home straight to win well. It was a star studded field including AGRA Greyhound of the Year Betty’s Angel.

Last year a youngster with only 15 starts under her belt blasted out the seven ally to win brilliantly in 29.40 for Victorian trainer Jason Thompson. Whippy’s Image was to race only briefly for the rest of the year because of injury and we perhaps never saw the best of her. Raced by New South Wales legendary greyhound man Dennis Reid it was another success after decades of breeding and racing top class chasers.

That brings us to 2009 and, who knows? Can the brilliant El Galo add another Group 1 to his already impressive resume or will a local upstage the fancied one and take their own Group 1 glory.

    Adelaide Cup Honour Roll

  • 1972 Bristol Miss
  • 1973 Valjuka
  • 1974 Bristol Sue
  • 1975 Turn Pillage
  • 1976 Golden Spur
  • 1977 Cavalier Queen
  • 1978 Riviera Tiger
  • 1979 Encanto
  • 1980 Youthful Prince
  • 1981 Lady Tornquest
  • 1982 Smithy’s Belle
  • 1983 Superstar
  • 1984 Knocklaun Gold
  • 1985 Thundering Two
  • 1986 Farquhar
  • 1987 Club Edition
  • 1988 High Wonder
  • 1989 Kuriarkin
  • 1990 Sandi’s Me Mum
  • 1991 Highly Blessed
  • 1992 South Road Sid
  • 1993 Croation Star
  • 1994 Perplexed
  • 1995 Forest Fin
  • 1996 Jurassic Vapour
  • 1997 Rare Deceit
  • 1998 Rapid Journey
  • 1999 Young Harrison
  • 2000 Jack Junior
  • 2001 Brett Lee
  • 2002 Brookside Bear
  • 2003 Waterview Star
  • 2004 Hotline Hero
  • 2005 Collide
  • 2006 Miss Spicy
  • 2007 Big Time Max
  • 2008 Whippy’s Image