ON September 24, leading trainer Jason Thompson went into the final of the Group 2 Shepparton Cup with three runners and emerged victorious when Aston Bolero (box six) scored a brilliant victory over American Monster and Shima Song. Thompson’s other finalists, Sleek Master and Invictus Rapid, shared seventh and eighth positions respectively.
For Thompson, the victory was his fourth in this long-established country cup, thereby eclipsing the performance of former leading mentor Graeme Bate who won the race on three occasions, with Pure Talent (1989), Kantarn Bale (2000) and Salong Bale (2001).
For the first time since its inception in 1973, the Shepparton Cup was run twice this year. At that first running, in February, Aston Bolero made the final and was sent out as the popular elect, but could only finish at the tail of the field (a rare unplaced effort), behind winner Gotta Get Back.
On this second occasion, Aston Bolero showed great speed and track sense from the six alley and earned $47,000 as he notched win number 35.
That’s almost twice as many career victories as were achieved by Thompson’s first Shepparton Cup winner, the brilliant Head Honcho.
Contesting the 1993 Shepparton Cup, Head Honcho exited box seven and scored by a length and a half over kennel mate Tranquil Flame, running 24.74 for what was then the 440 metres trip.
Head Honcho had already taken out the South Australian Champion Puppy Classic (aka Colin Viney Memorial) and South Australian St Leger but his career was cut short and the speedster raced just 20 times for 18 victories before going on to a glittering stud career.
Thompson had to wait 11 years for his next success in the Shepparton Cup, scoring with the smart Whisky Assassin in 2004 at what was the last time the event was run over the 440 metres distance.
One of the really amazing coincidences surrounding the 2004 Shepparton Cup win, is that it completed a mirror treble of winners with the Ballarat Cup. The 2002 Shepparton Cup had been won by Knockabout Wok, as was the 2002 Ballarat Cup; Puzzle Prize annexed the 2003 Shepparton Cup and then took out the Ballarat Cup. After snaring the Shepparton Cup, Whisky Assassin went on to take the Ballarat Cup.
As far as I’m aware, two major races have not been won in the same three-year period by the same three-greyhound sequence.
In 2008, Jason Thompson picked up the Shepparton Cup for a third time when Hanify’s Impact bolted away to score by three and a half lengths over Parracryl and Vee Man Vane, collecting $26,500 for connections.