1998 will always be the year which will be remembered as being dominated by the mighty NSW sprinter Rapid Journey.
The fabulous red brindle son of Amerigo Man and Miss Courtney had commenced 1998 in tremendous form for his owner-trainer Jane Carruthers, winning the Adelaide Cup by an incredible nine and a half lengths in January, then taking out the Orange Cup, and, after setting a new track record for 520-metres in the heats of the Golden Easter Egg at Wentworth Park, he scored a strong victory in a star-studded final.
And so to Western Australia he went, in search of the Perth Cup, which had been raised to Group 1 status for the first time.
Rapid Journey had his first look over the 530-metres at Cannington on 18 April when contesting the Interstate Challenge (Group 3). Despite being drawn in the so-called ‘visitors box’ (box six), and opposed to a top field which included the 1997 Interstate Challenge winner and former track record holder Gemarly Park, Queenslander Nujooloo, and Victorian stars Lansley Bale and Shannen’s Storm, Rapid Journey created a huge impression with a brilliant four length victory. He downed Gemarly Park and Nujooloo in a race record 30.55, just 3/100ths outside the track record set by Prince Of Tigers the previous May.
The heats of the Perth Cup were run on 25 April and Rapid Journey, despite once again coming up with box six, simply toyed with his rivals, cruising home 11 lengths clear in 30.52 to equal the track record.
The only greyhound genuinely considered any kind of a threat to Rapid Journey in the final was the Linda Britton-trained rising star Reggemite. The white and brindle dog, by Barney’s Alarm out of Leading Example, had won his Perth Cup run-off by just over seven lengths in a sizzling 30.54, at what was only his ninth career outing. It was his fourth win at Cannington and his times had come down from 30.83 to 30.77 to 30.64 and now 30.54.
In the week leading up to the 2 May final there was speculation about whether Reggemite (drawn in box seven for the $40,000-to-the-winner race) could lower Rapid Journey’s colours. In the end, that’s all it was, just speculation.
Rapid Journey was sent out a short-priced favourite, exited box three in the final (the same alley he’d had when winning the Golden Easter Egg), and simply blew his rivals away.
Rapid Journey passed the judge almost eight lengths clear of a valiant but ultimately outclassed Reggemite, who came from third to take second by a half length from his kennelmate Billy Cruise. Rapid Journey ran the trip in 30.68 to nip 2/100ths from the race record set in 1996 by the great Tenthill Doll.
Make no mistake, Reggemite was a genuinely fast greyhound and a class act who was, after all, at the beginning of his career. He went on to win his next 13 races on end at Cannington and Mandurah, would run Rapid Journey to a photo finish in the Topgun in what was the latter’s final race and went on to win 34 races all told from just 51 starts. He also smashed the Cannington track record held by Rapid Journey, lowering it to 30.34.