Background To The Sandown Cup

With upset results the order of the day in the heats, this year’s Sandown Cup final has been robbed of a lot of interest. There’s no doubt the overall quality of the field does not reach the standards of the last few years. Nonetheless, Australia’s premier distance event this year will be worth a substantial $175,000 to the winner, the biggest purse ever offered for a ‘half mile’ race.

Inaugural Running

The first Sandown Cup run over a staying distance (785 yards as it was then, or the equivalent of 718 metres) took place in 1961, the winner being Plunkett’s Present. A Sandown Cup had been inaugurated in 1957, the winner being Orialta, but details are very sketchy about this earlier period.

When Is The Race Run

For the early years I am unaware of the dates. In 1970 and 1971 the final was run in February, while from 1972 to 1979 it was either March or April. The 1980 final was run in August, but it was then back to either a March or April final between 1981 and 1986. The 1987 Cup was run in May, and this continued until 1995. From 1996 to 2000 inclusive it was back to April, before May once again became the preferred end date, from 2001 until the present.

Biggest Winning Margins

I only have fairly extensive information dating from 1970, and since that time the standouts have been Lizrene (1973), Smart Attitude (1999) and Mantra Lad (2009) who all scored by nine and a half lengths; Western Creole (1990) who won by eight lengths; Lizrene (1972) by seven and a half lengths, and Bold Trease (1986) by six lengths.

Closest Winning Margins

The closest margins since 1970 have been Top Sovereign (1994), Boronia Blossom (1996), and Irma Bale (2013) by half a head; Bentley Babe (2001) and Next Top Model (2010) by a head and Pixie Eyes (1991) by half a neck.

Most Successful Trainer/s

Norm McCullagh with four, is easily the best, but of course it was a ‘one-trick pony’: the great Bold Trease in 1986, 1987, 1988, and 1989. Of trainers who have had success with different greyhounds, the best are Jason Thompson (Proven Lethal 2004 and Next Top Model 2010) and Graeme Bate (Irma Bale 2012 & 2013).

Only Dual Winner/s

Four greyhounds have won the event at least twice. The first was Paul’s Thunder in 1970 and 1971 followed by Lizrene in 1972 and 1973. Irma Bale won in 2012 and 2013. Of course the Sandown Cup ‘belongs’ to Bold Trease who won in 1986, 1987, 1988, and 1989 in what is the greatest series of performances in a single major race anywhere in the world. The mighty Irish greyhound Spanish Battleship won three successive Irish Derbies in the 1950s, but no greyhound has ever won the same major four years running.

Only Reserve/s To Win

None I’m aware of, and certainly none from 1969 onwards.

Dual Finalists

Miram Miss (second 1969, unplaced 1970), Paul’s Thunder (Won 1970 and 1971), Peasant Lass (unplaced 1971 and 1972), Sandra Treasure (unplaced 1971 and 1972), Lizrene (Won 1972 and 1973), Lone Voice (second 1982, unplaced 1983), Rawpack (unplaced 1982 and 1983), Bold Trease (Won 1986, 1987, 1988, and 1989), High Intensity (deadheat second 1987, sixth 1989), Nanna’s Dud (unplaced 1987 and 1988), Blade Action (third 1988 and 1989), Top Sovereign (seventh 1993, Won 1994), Fashanu (unplaced 1993 and 1994), Dave’s Cruiser (third 1995, fifth 1996), Tonight’s Wish (Won 1997, third 1998), Red Mystique (seventh 1997, Won 1998), Paradise Street (unplaced 1997 and 1998), Arvo’s Junior (Won 2003, fifth 2004), Springvale Jinx (second 2004, third 2006), Texas Gold (second 2005, scratched 2006), Next Top Model (fifth 2009, Won 2010), Irma Bale (Won 2012 and 2013), Miata (third 2012 and 2013)

Some Beaten Stars

Miram Miss (second 1969, unplaced 1970), Lord Baden (unplaced 1969), Busy’s Charm (third 1970), Sargood (unplaced 1970), Saki Dasher (unplaced 1971), Bolta’s Gift (third 1976), All Promise (second 1980), Shamrock Jewel (third 1981), Sheila’s Teresa (second 1985), High Intensity (deadheat second 1987, sixth 1989), Modern Express (second 1992), Raven Kelly (fifth 1994), Dave’s Cruiser (third 1995, fifth 1996), Northern Legend (second 1996), Shape Shifter (fifth 1997), Paradise Street (eighth 1997, sixth 1998), Totally Ablaze (second 1998), Ringside Fire (fifth 1998), Poetic Reward (fifth 1999), Many Tricks (third 2000), Pearl Larricki (second 2001), Boomeroo (third 2002), Springvale Jinx (second 2004, third 2006), Texas Gold (second 2005), Rocky (fourth 2005), Mid City Mandy (eighth 2005), Elektra (fifth 2006), Fallen Zorro (second 2008), Kulu Spirit (fourth 2008), Jarvis Bale (sixth 2010), Shimaguni (fourth 2011), Miata (third 2012 and 2013), Bell Haven (second 2013), and Destini Fireball (fifth 2013)

Additional Notes

The track record has fallen twice in the final, first in 2004 when Proven Lethal scored in 42.12 and then in 2011 when Bobby Boucheau ran 41.57. When Lizrene won her second Sandown Cup, in 1973, her time was a track record, but because it was hand-timed it was not recognised.

Raurimu became the first New Zealand stayer to win a major Australian distance race when successful in the 1984 event.

High Intensity and Galaxy Spirit ran the only dead-heat in a cup, running second to Bold Trease in 1987.

The race had to be abandoned in 2007 when the boxes opened prematurely.

The champion Tasmanian duo of Chinatown Lad and Fallen Zorro ran the quinella in the 2008 event. Wynlee Wonder had been the first Tasmanian to win the race, in 1980.

The first New South Wales winner was Kawati Boy, in 1978, while the first (and so far only) Queenslander was Boronia Blossom (1996).

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