VICTORIAN stayer Lioness Lulu will be looking to become the eighth individual, but only the second Victorian-trained stayer, to take the Association Cup-Wentworth Park Gold Cup double when she exits a very suitable box eight in the final of the latter event on Saturday night.
Since the two races have been conducted on the one circuit, five stayers have achieved the double, the most recent being fellow Victorian stayer Space Star, trained by Rob Britton, in 2015.
Other dual winners on the loam surface at Wentworth Park have been Miagi, in 2008, which took the Association Cup in January and then snared the Gold Cup the following month for local mentor Warren Harper.
The John Finn-prepared Irinka Barbie ran a race record 42.54 to take the 2004 Association Cup and made it a race record double when she clocked 42.41 in annexing the Gold Cup four weeks later.
Groovy Dancer became the first stayer to win the double on the loam surface when picking up the 1996 Association Cup in January and then being victorious in the Gold Cup the following May for trainer Ray King.
Equability, which took out the 1992 Association Cup in February with an eight lengths victory in race record time, came back in May and won the Gold Cup by seven lengths to become the only dual winner on the-then grass surface of the new Wentworth Park track.
When the two events were held separately at Harold Park and Wentworth Park, it was the Gold Cup which was always the first to be run each year.
The first dual winner of the events was the great Zoom Top, which won the two races in both 1968 and 1969, a feat never equalled since.
In 1970, the underrated Heather Rev collected the Gold Cup (that year named the Sir Joseph Banks Cup as part of the bi-centennial celebrations of the arrival of Captain Cook in Botany Bay), relegating Zoom Top’s litter sister Busy’s Charm into third place. Heather Rev then narrowly downed Tara Flash (later named 1970 NSW Greyhound of the Year) in the Association Cup to collect the double.
In 1972 the former Victorian Ragsie, trained by Paul Cauchi, managed to outlast the great Victorian stayer Lizrene to win the Gold Cup by half a head. He then went to Harold Park and scored a brilliant victory in the Association Cup.
The Association Cup (named to commemorate the Greyhound Breeders’, Owners’ and Trainers’ Association, GBOTA) was first run in 1965, over 800 yards (732m) at Harold Park while the Wentworth Park Gold Cup was inaugurated in 1966, and run over 790 yards (722m).
The only time the two races have not been contested was 1981 when no Gold Cup was scheduled.
No matter what happens to Lioness Lulu, it’s been a fairytale ride for rookie trainer Mark Giddings and yet another example of how greyhound racing can be a positive life-changing experience.
Watch Lioness Lulu (8) winning the Group 1 Association Cup.