Two milestones, 17 years apart

THE thrilling victory by Fernando Bale in the Adelaide Cup was not just a sight to behold in terms of the sensational qualities of this racing phenomenon, but the reaction of the crowd from start to finish made for a fantastic atmosphere.

I could only watch the race on a monitor and have no idea just how big the crowd happened to be at Angle Park. Yet, from the sounds coming through the microphone from the course broadcaster certainly gave the impression it was a packed house.

It was wonderful to hear the clapping and cheering which began from the time Fernando Bale overcame an average start to power through to the lead at the first turn. I have little doubt the majority of those cheering loudly were not doing it because they happened to have the rent money on the champion. It wouldn’t surprise me if plenty had bet against the favourite, or simply stayed out of having a wager on the race.

Crowds will flock to watch a greyhound like this; it’s such a pity we don’t have more of them, but then again we should be ever grateful Fernando Bale came along in 2015. The sport needed something like him to give us all something to remind us why we love these animals who clearly, as anyone with half a sensible brain can see, generally love to race.

While Fernando Bale became the first greyhound in the world to pass one million dollars in prize money, it’s worth noting that 17 years ago we marvelled as another great sprinter became the first to pass $500,000 in prize money. Rapid Journey turned 1998 into his own, remaining undefeated in five Group 1 races as well as notching two Group 2 victories and one Group 3 success.

When Rapid Journey retired at the end of 1998 he had earned $530,995 and this mark stood for 147 months, until High Earner surpassed that figure in February 2011. It’s the longest period at the top as the leading prize money winner in Australian history, surpassing the 69 months when Victorian stayer Lizrene held the mantle (between February 1974 and November 1979).

Since High Earner, we’ve watched as Miata, Xylia Allen and then Sweet It Is each claimed the mantle of highest prize money winner in the country.

It’s worth putting Fernando Bale’s numbers into perspective when compared with Rapid Journey.

Fernando Bale’s 10 Group victories from 10 Group outings have netted him $869,000 from those 10 wins. By comparison, Rapid Journey’s eight Group victories from 12 Group outings netted him $432,000 from those eight victories.

Yet, if you were to extrapolate Rapid Journey’s eight Group wins to today’s figures, he would have netted an amazing $1,157,500. If you were to include his second placings in the Brisbane Cup and Penrith Derby and his third in the Winter Stake, this would add a further $25,125 in today’s figures, making Rapid Journey’s numbers run to around $1,182,625. He also won a further 25 races, including non-Group events such as the Jockeys and Trainers Cup at Wentworth Park, Penrith Cup, Lismore Cup, and Orange Cup.

Rapid Journey won the Melbourne Cup ($100,000 then; $420,000 now); Golden Easter Egg ($100,000 then; $250,000 now); Perth Cup ($40,000 then; $140,000 now); Topgun ($70,000 then; $150,000 now); Adelaide Cup ($50,000 then; $75,000 now); National Sprint Championship ($40,000 then; $75,000 now); Queensland Cup ($20,000 then; $25,000 now known as the Big Dog Cup and without the same cache it had when Rapid Journey was racing) and the WA Interstate Challenge ($12,000 then; $22,500 at its last running in 2010).

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