This year marks the 48th running of the Wentworth Park Gold Cup, although the race has had a few different ‘official’ names down through the decades. Currently, and since 2011, it is known as the Betfair Gold Cup.
Although Victoria has dominated Australian staying ranks since the 1960s, the Gold Cup has not fallen as regularly to the southern invaders as might be presumed, with just five coming from south of the Murray, and one of those had been long transferred to NSW.
The first Wentworth Park Gold Cup took place in 1966 over 790 yards (722 metres) on the grass circuit. It was taken out by Brigdale in 43.8, just 3/10ths outside the track record held by Magic Vale and Special Pick.
Brigdale came back the following year in an attempt to defend his title but could only finish sixth in his heat and missed the final.
Run on grass over 790 yards (722 metres) from 1966 to 1987. From 1988 to 1992 it was run on grass over 720 metres, and since 1993 it has been run on the sand, still over 720 metres.
When Is The Race Run
The Cup was usually the first of the four major Sydney distance races to be decided, being held in March or April from 1966 to 1974. It then moved to February from 1975 to 1980. No event was held in 1981. From 1982 to 1989 it was run in either January or February. Between 1990 and 2000 the event moved to May and then back to February from 2001 to 2010. The 2011 and 2012 finals were run in March, but in 2013 the final was run in April. With a bit of luck officials will eventually work out a perfect time slot for what is still one of Sydney’s most important staying races.
Biggest Winning Margins
This is somewhat controversial. The ‘official’ biggest winning margin is that by Slick Lee in 2012, at eight and three-quarter lengths. This margin, however, was only achieved because of the disqualification of both Thrilling Frank and Thrilling Bloom to a banned substance. The actual margin at the time of the race was three-quarters of length by three-quarters of a length.
Miagi won by eight and a half lengths in 2008, while Zoom Top (1969) and Equability (1992) both scored by seven lengths. Gold Slammer won by six and a half lengths in 2009, Dalalla by six and a quarter lengths in 1999, and Miss High Lo by six lengths in 1974.
Closest Winning Margins
Slick Lee features yet again. In winning the 2011 running, Slick Lee scored by just half a head. Bell Haven won the 2013 stanza also by just half a head.
Strand Belle (1971), Ragsie (1972), National Lass (1986), and Romantic Diva (2007) all won by a head.
Most Successful Trainer/s
Hec Watt (with Zoom Top in 1968 and 1969) and Keith Pedrana (with Slick Lee in 2011 and 2012) are, to the best of my knowledge, the only trainers with more than one winner. I don’t possess full details on all 47 completed cups, so I could be missing someone.
Only Dual Winner/s
Zoom Top (1968 & 1969) and Slick Lee (2011 and, by way of disqualification of the first two past the post, 2012).
Only Reserve/s To Win
None I’m aware of; the closest is Incredible Lass in 1978 who was second reserve and gained a run when two other finalists were scratched and she managed to take third place behind the brilliant Kawati Boy.
The following are those I’m aware of, there may well be others. Zoom Top (won 1968 and 1969), Busy’s Charm (third 1968, third 1970), Sally Alla (second 1970, fifth 1971), Gaytilla (second 1974, fifth 1975), Michele Cherie (second 1977, sixth 1978), Dainty Dasher (fourth 1977, fifth 1978), Wave The Hat (third 1985, sixth 1986 after getting a run as second reserve), Northern Legend (third 1996, sixth 1997), Gallant Seagull (sixth 1999, fifth 2000), Pearl Larricki (won 2001, second 2002), Valley Cowgirl (seventh 2001, seventh 2002), Best Quoted (won 2005, fifth 2006), Spalding (second 2006 and 2007), Gold Slammer (fourth 2008, won 2009), Dashing Corsair (second 2010, third 2011), and Blue Lorian (fourth 2010, seventh 2011).
Some Beaten Stars
Pearl Moss (second 1967), Busy’s Charm (third 1968, third 1970), Holding (fourth 1969), Mustard Moss (second 1970), Tara Flash (third 1970), Paul’s Thunder (fourth 1970), Lizrene (second 1972), He’s Some Boy (second 1973), Kabisa Gem (second 1976), Bolta’s Gift (third 1976), Dotie Wilson (sixth 1976), Brettianly (fifth 1979), Farrarami (fourth 1990), Miss Cruise (third 1995), Sally’s Title (fourth 1998), Kobble Creek (second 1999), Flash Joan (second 2001), Big Sam Banner (fourth 2003), Classy Customer (fifth 2005), Texas Gold (sixth 2006), Dashing Corsair (second 2010, third 2011), Forty Twenty (fifth 2010), Irma Bale (second 2013), and Smart Valentino (fifth 2013).
The cup has always consisted of just two heats and a final, with the first four in each heat progressing. The only time this hasn’t occurred was in 2008 when a prelude was held the week before to determine a best eight for the final, won convincingly by Miagi.
In 1970, the race was renamed the Sir Joseph Banks Cup as part of celebrations marking the 200th anniversary of Captain Cook’s arrival. Heats were held at both Wentworth Park and Harold Park for the only time in its history.
As mentioned, only five Victorian stayers have annexed the race: Strand Belle (1971), Ragsie (1972, but trained in Sydney by Paul Cauchi throughout most of his career), Keon Star (1995), Ringside Fire (1998) and Amazing Dancer (2000). Bella’s Angel won for Western Australia in 2003 and Bell Haven for Tasmania in 2013.
The closest South Australia and Queensland have come are second placings to Kalden Mayhem in 2011 and Kabisa Gem (1976) and Dashing Corsair (2010).
No less than eight NSW Greyhounds of the Year have won the Cup in the year they were awarded the title: Zoom Top (1968 & 1969), Ragsie (1972), Miss High Lo (1974), Kawati Boy (1978), Pearl Larricki (2001), Irinka Barbie (2004), Royal Riddle (2006), and Miagi (2008).