Unlike the Melbourne Cup where runners need to travel over for a prelude before getting a start, the Australian Cup gives all interstate dogs a chance to be graded on their interstate efforts and line-up in one of the highest profile series on the calender.
For two states like South Australia and Tasmania, this is a big deal.
However, out of those two, it is the Apple Isle contenders that would be frothing at the mouth to have their dogs unleashed upon The Meadows next Saturday night, with both Buckle Up Wes and Buckle Up Mason being selected upon the 56 seeds granted a walk-up start into the heats.
OK, now before everyone emails in frantically, saying that Buckle Up Mason is a Victorian greyhound, it needs to be said that the dog is Tasmanian owned and Tasmanian bred by the well-known Robyn and Gary Johnson partnership. Despite the dam of the pair, Everlong Bale, doing most of its racing in South Australia, as long as they carry the ‘Buckle Up’ name, they will forever be part of the Tasmanian crusade.
Focussing on Buckle Up Mason firstly, his career has been carried out almost entirely in Victoria under the care of Graeme Bate. Like most of the Bate army, he is now being guarded by Peter and Jenny Hunt. His form has been a model of consistency through 2013 and into the new year, with several victories at Free For All level including a Melbourne Cup Prelude.
On the other hand, Buckle Up Wes has predominantly raced on home soil with Ted Medhurst putting on the finishing touches. His résumé looks a little more imposing, with wins in the Paws of Thunder and Launceston Cup heats, and took out the Launceston Cup Consolation last night just to prove he’s ready to go.
Apart from both runners racing best when on the bunny, and both chasers wanting the rail, both of them have also amassed $64,000 in prizemoney. Buckle Up Wes got to that total via 18 wins and 9 placings from 32 starts, at a strike rate of 52%, while Buckle Up Mason has done it more steadily scored on 13 occasions with 18 placings out of 50 tries, in other words a 26% winning rate.
They are no flashes in the pan for the Johnson team. The ‘Buckle Up’ moniker has been around for some time now, and it’s not unusual for them to find a bit of success on the highest stage. Buckle Up Tina had a great career for Robyn and Gary when it competed from 2006 to 2008, making three Group 1 finals in a 98 start career that yielded 32 wins along the way.
Then there is the host of runners that remain on home soil via the different litters, with the likes of Buckle Up Myke, Gaye, Kade, Brett and Grace all paying their way week in, week out.
But back onto the star duo, who are by far the standouts from the Collision x Everlong Bale litter. They will line up in heat two and five of the Australian Cup. Mason will have his work cut out from box three, with Peter Rocket and Marcus Joe drawn inside. Meanwhile, Wes has come up with box six, hoping to out-pace Farmor Las Vegas, Banjo Boy and Temlee winner, Zelemar Fever.
While on the topic, Dark Warrior who started his career in Tasmania is also nominated, and will be desperate to hold out Paw Licking around the first corner in the fourth heat.
As mentioned earlier, there was space in this article for the chances of the South Australian entrants in the Australian Cup. However with the injury to pin-up boy Ernie Bung Arrow, the croweaters will be sadly left with no representation.
While every state has their peaks and troughs, anytime an interstate chaser can conquer the Victorian stranglehold is always a popular result. For the sake of Tasmania, let’s hope the Johnson team can do just that.