The Big Dog Cup had its genesis as the Queensland Cup and was originally run over the 555 metre trip at the now defunct Beenleigh circuit until it closed in 2003.
Since that time it has been run at Albion Park, originally as the Brisbane-Beenleigh Queensland Cup, before Big Dog came on board as sponsors.
This year’s event is worth a cool $25,000 to the winner and a cracker field of middle-distance greyhounds from the Sunshine State have assembled.
Let’s have a look at how they line up;
1 – Benarkin (Path To Power – Velocity Cloud) – Tony Brett
Benarkin returned to Queensland last week after a crack at group racing glory over 720 metres in New South Wales. The front running dog managed a third in the Group 2 Summer Distance Plate final, which was a massive achievement for the fifth grade chaser.
Beginning from box eight in his heat, Benarkin couldn’t find the front and battled in third and fourth throughout before finishing hard to land second placing. This weeks draw should suit the Tony Brett trained dog much better and, if he can find the front, he will take some catching.
2 – Spirited Flame (Vapour Whirl – Fire Goddess) – Christopher Riordon
Spirited Flame has a tremendous record over the 600 metres at Albion Park and suffered a rare blemish in her heat. The white and black bitch has won five of her seven outings over this track and distance, with a best of 34.98.
She began a little tardily from the outside alley last week in her heat and could never get to the fence. The inside draw may help her in that endeavour in the final and, if she can return to her best, she will be right in this.
3 – Never Tell (El Galo – Georgia Anne) – Anne Southee
Never Tell has been a consistent chaser over the middle distance and staying trips, but does not win out of turn. The 33kg black dog has only won two of 18 attempts over this journey and yet to break the 45 second barrier. Based on that, he is likely to find this field a little too hot and is probably a place chance at best.
4 – Starliner – (Pure Octane – Borgata) – Gary Pettersen
Starliner won this race last year when he ran down the classy Victorian stayer Irma Bale. He has had just three runs back from a short spell after a fall late last year. He has only had the two 600 metre runs since that time and is yet to finish in the top three. He may be better for those hit-outs, but will ned to improve sharply to make it back-to-back titles.
5 – Wag Tail – (Velocette – Bacardi Cruiser) – Christina Harman
Wag Tail is the most lightly raced greyhound in the field and has had just 29 career starts. The black bitch has won four from 12 over this trip with six further placings.
Last week she chased home the strong Cakes And Pies and was doing her best work at the end of the event. She will need some luck in the running to get a clean shot at them here and if she gets it, she will be a solid place chance.
Cakes And Pies is the Albion Park specialist who has seemingly been around the 600 metre trip as many times as the lure. In actual fact the striking blue bitch has had 25 goes at this trip for eight victories and a further 10 placings, including a best of 34.77.
Last week she showed more early pace than we are accustomed to seeing and showed them a clean pair of pads in her slick 34.98 win. If she can land close to the bunny again this week, she would have to be considered one of the top chances.
7 – Bellagio Lad (Big Daddy Cool – Ultra Swift) – Ron Ball
Bellagio Lad, the littermate to Cakes And Pies, is the second of Prenzlau mentor Ron Ball’s runners. The veteran of some 88 career starts will only have his seventh start over the 600 metres this week and is yet to win.
He has a fair amount of early zip and could well be the race leader. It would be a surprise if he can hold that position throughout the event though.
8 – Late Angel Lee (Late Show Lee – Rocklynn’s Angel) – Darren Titmarsh
Late Angel Lee looks to be the runner who holds all the aces in this final. He has won four of his six 600 metre races at Albion Park and registered a slick 34.79.
He began as well as ever last week and parked right behind the early leaders before blowing them away to win in the best of 34.94. The big query is where he will land this week from the extreme outside and, more to the point, if he can gain a clear run to unleash his trademark finishing burst.
The first reserve is White Hornet (9) who could only manage a fifth at his first 600 metre attempt last week and would struggle if gaining a start.
Culoz (10) is the second reserve and has only won one from seven over the trip in a slow 35.90.
The run to the first turn will be all important in this race. If Benarkin can find the front then it may be all over bar the proverbial shouting. He will need to be on his game to hold out the likes of Spirited Flame and Bellagio Lad, while Cakes And Pies is another who showed he can land on the speed and loves this track and distance. Late Angel Lee the one to beat if he can gain a clear shot at them.