THE classy Secret Spell is deservedly one of the favourites to take out the final of this year’s Group 2 Cranbourne Cup, and with a record of four wins and one second from her only five 520-metre starts at the course she clearly loves racing at the venue.
Secret Spell will also be attempting to achieve a rare feat when she lines up on Saturday evening, that being winning a Cranbourne Puppy Classic in one year and then coming back to take out the Cranbourne Cup.
Both the Puppy Classic and Cup were inaugurated in 1975, and since then only three greyhounds have achieved the double.
The first of these was Granulator who, in 1976, took out the second running of the Cranbourne Puppy Classic and came back in 1977 to win the third edition of the Cranbourne Cup, running 31.59, the slowest time ever registered for the event.
In 1978, Panther Bay won the Puppy Classic and came back a year later to annex the Cranbourne Cup, running 31.27.
The last greyhound to take the Puppy Classic-Cup double was the brilliant Spread Eagled. Having only his seventh race start, Spread Eagled lived up to his name in the Puppy Classic, decimating the field to score by seven lengths in a race record 30.64 as a 1/2 ($1.50) favourite.
Spread Eagled came back in January 1990 and, after taking his heat of the Cranbourne Cup by just over eight lengths, he was sent out a 6/4 ($2.50) favourite for the final from box three. Unusually, he began poorly against a top field, which included the likes of Franklin Deano and Fair Sentence, but managed to put himself into a good position going into the first turn.
Down the back straight Spread Eagled hit the front and raced away to down Franklin Deano by just over four lengths in 30.76.
Overall, only five greyhounds have taken out the Puppy Classic and gone on to make the final of the Cranbourne Cup.
Secret Spell is just the sixth to do so.
In 1987 Dark Midori won the Puppy Classic and two years later made the Cup final, running a strong one-length second behind National Asset.
In 1999, Gunnar Bale won the Puppy Classic and, with the Cranbourne Cup being run in November that year, managed to become the only greyhound to make the final of both races in the same year. Gunnar Bale went down by just three-quarters of a length to Arvo’s Express in the Cup final.
The only defeated Puppy Classic finalists to have gone on to win the Cup have been Calamity Kid, which ran second to Dark Midori in the 1987 Puppy Classic but then won the 1988 Cup by six lengths and Cintiarna, who was fifth in the 2012 Puppy Classic, but in 2013 took out a star-studded Cup final.
Whether Secret Spell can achieve the double or not, she has already managed to have her name inscribed onto a very small group of high performers at the Cranbourne circuit.