On a Monday night of greyhound racing dominated by Group 2 racing heats across two states, Mr Audacious laid down a formidable challenge to reigning Shepparton Cup winner Ferdinand Boy, taking his track record in the process.
New South Wales greyhound racing could find just four heats for the $40,000 to the winner Group 2 Maitland Cup qualifiers, but down south on the same night Shepparton provided six heats for its feature Group 2 $47,000 to the winner Shepparton Cup.
2021 Shepparton Cup winner and track record holder Ferdinand Boy looked to again have a stranglehold on the 2022 final leading all the way in 24.81 to win the fourth cup heat and be fastest qualifier with two heats left to run. The win was just a length outside his 24.75 track record, set when winning last years final; and proved the David Geall-trained greyhound had taken no harm from an unlucky 2022 Temora Cup final run the race prior.
Last year Geall's star chaser set up a triple play of country cup wins taking the Shepparton Cup before winning the Ballarat Cup and Healesville Cups. The performance earned connections the $50,000 bonus provided by Greyhound Racing Victoria (GRV) for any greyhound who can win three Group 2 country cups in a year.
But Ferdinand Boy's seeming stranglehold on the 2022 edition of the race was obliterated just two heats later when Mr Audacious muscled his way to the lead from box six in the final cup heat, and took one tenth off the track record winning in 24.65 for Kilmany trainer Rachael Busuttil. The son of Beast Unleashed and Audacious Bell was giving away age and experience to his competitors but made light of the challenge winning his fourth race from just five starts. Not yet two years of age until April, all the dog's previous wins had been restricted to the Traralgon 395m journey in low grade company.
The prodigious young talent will aim to win the 2022 Shepparton Cup final from the same box, having again drawn box six in the final.
Adding merit to Mr Audacious' claims for the title, the second placegetter in the heat also went under the track record mark running 24.72 to be beaten by one length. Former New South Wales greyhound Robbie Rotten was valiant in defeat and will also exit the same alley in the final having drawn box eight again. Young gun trainer Kayla Cottrell will be looking for a second country cup having won the Warragul Cup with the greyhound in January.
The sometimes wayward and enigmatic but undeniably fast greyhound Dream Wizard, put it all together to win the third heat in 24.87; paying in excess of $32.00 at most online greyhound bookmakers. The effort took its toll on Dream Wizard with the greyhound pulling up in the catching pen displaying signs of Post Exercise Distress Syndrome (PEDS). A veterinary examination confirmed clinical signs of ataxia or hypermetria.
Dream Wizard, who has drawn box one in the final; might be an unlikely starter in the race after GRV Stewards imposed a five day stand down and declared the Melanie Lithgow-trained greyhound must complete a vet clearance and satisfactory trial prior to any future race nomination.
The fifth heat on the night was won by the Peter Presutto trained Idolize who narrowly held off Indy Fido in 25.01. The win gave Presutto a second Shepparton Cup finalist after he qualified Dynamic Prince for the big race, finishing second behind Ferdinand Boy.
The box draw for Saturday's $47,000 to the winner final was conducted trackside at the conclusion of the heats.
2022 Group 2 Shepparton Cup Final
- 1 – Dream Wizard (Melanie Lithgow)
- 2 – Dynamic Prince (Peter Presutto)
- 3 – Ferdinand Boy (David Geall)
- 4 – Compliance (Karen Pitt)
- 5 – Idolize (Peter Presutto)
- 6 – Mr Audacious (Rachael Busuttil)
- 7 – Substantial (Anthony Azzopardi)
- 8 – Robbie Rotten (Kayla Cottrell)
- 9 – Paua Of Buddy (Steve White)
- 10 – Orson Mick (Jessica Sharp)