This year will see the 20th running of the Topgun, the only major race in Australian racing history to start with a dead-heat.
Since that amazing race in 1993, the Topgun has gained a lot of traction for a race that is arguably an elitist event which flies in the face of what has always been an egalitarian sport.
Should it really have a $150,000-to-the-winner prize tag? Or, is it arguably a race that is staged as a kind of ‘reward’ for the mighty efforts of the best of the best from the previous year of racing?
Perhaps the following 20 nuggets of Topgun trivia might help throw a little more ‘light’ on the race often called the Cox Plate of greyhound racing.
• Its 19 runnings have been on three tracks: Sandown Park, Olympic Park (once, in 1994), and The Meadows
• The race has been held over four separate distances: 511, 515, 518 and 525 metres
• It is the only major race in Australia to have started with a dead-heat for first
• There have been 20 winners of the 19 Topgun’s contested so far, with Victoria dominating with 13 victories. New South Wales is next with five wins and both Queensland and Western Australia have one win apiece
• No Tasmanian greyhound has ever been considered good enough to make the final eight
• It is the only major race ever conducted in Australia where greyhounds imported from Ireland, England, and the United States have been seeded directly into the final field
• The overseas seeding experiment began in 1997 and finished in 2000.
• Three Irish, two English, and two United States greyhounds competed in those four Topgun’s
• The best performances by an overseas greyhound were those of the Irish sprinter Sweeping Storm who finished second to Mint Magic in 1999 and the English sprinter Droopys Zola who ran second to Placard in 2000
• On the two occasions the overseas seeded greyhounds finished second, they were beaten by NSW representatives
• The Topgun was first rated as a Group One event in 1999
• The most interstate representatives in a Topgun was five in 2005 when Queenslander Black Enforcer scored
• The least number of interstate representatives was in 2006 when Brother Knows from NSW was the only one against seven Victorians
• Forgetting the four running’s involving overseas greyhounds, which skewed the potential representation from interstate, there have been 46 interstate representatives, or an average of three per year
• The biggest winning margins have been in 1999 when Mint Magic scored by 10 lengths for NSW and Whisky Assassin for Victoria in 2004 when he won by nine lengths. Whisky Assassin set a track record 29.40 at Sandown in that win
• There have only been three Topgun’s decided by margins of less than one length (apart from the first dead-heat event), and only one of these at the Meadows (when Bombastic Shiraz scored by three-quarters of a length)
• El Galo was first past the post in 2008, but later disqualified for a drug infringement. The race was awarded to Regal Thyme, the first reserve, who had gained a start when Queenslander Knocka Norris was scratched
• The last winner of the Topgun at Sandown was in 2006 when Jaimandy Coops scored for Victoria
• The Topgun has only been contested eight times over the 525 metres trip at the Meadows with box one successful three times (37 percent). The other winnings boxes have been box five (twice; 25 percent) and boxes two, four, and seven, one each
• Jason Thompson is the only trainer to have won the race more than once, having notched two victories: No Intent (box 1) in 2001 and Whisky Assassin (box 8) in 2004. Thompson did win a third Topgun in 2008 but lost the race after winner El Galo tested positive to Buscopan.