This Saturday Night the Meadows plays host to the 21st edition of the invitation-only Group 1 Topgun. With a wonderful field of sprinters engaged the race features champion greyhounds from 4 different states. Victoria, South Australia, Queensland and Western Australia – each entrant with their own realistic chance of taking out the first prize and the title of Topgun winner. This year’s event will also be the final race of champion Queensland greyhound Glen Gallon, who with victory would surpass Miata as Australia’s highest stake winning greyhound.
As Greyhound racing’s most controversial race, arguments have continued around the Topgun format since the first running in 1993 when the race finished in a dead heat between Golden Currency and Worth Backing. The Topgun creates media attention and is marketing genius. It gets participants talking and butting heads, participants argue for and against and ultimately the result is media attention on a race that many don’t believe should exist, let alone carry the status that it does. A walk up start, Group 1 status and $150,000 to the winner. These arguments add to the aurora of the event, the build-up, the spectacle. It is what the industry needs – fuelling discussions between participants, stakeholders, observers and punters alike.
Adding to the furore to this year’s event is the drawing of champion greyhound Xylia Allen in box 5. Whilst definitely deserving her place in the final field, Greyhound Racing Victoria have done themselves and the integrity of the industry no favours by allowing Hall of Fame trainer Graeme Bate to be listed as her trainer. Recently disqualified for elevated Testosterone levels Bate is facing nine months on the sidelines if an appeal before VCAT is not successful. GRV have since approved the transfer of Bate’s team to his son in law Peter Hunt. Some would say that in fairness to others in the industry, Bates punishment should have affected his whole team, not just changed the name of the dog’s trainer.
Nevertheless, the aurora of controversy surrounding the Topgun will continue and with a quality field assembled, Australian Racing Greyhound looks into each of the 8 finalists and 2 reserve runner’s chances.
Sky Channel TOPGUN – The Meadows Race 8 – 525meters – 9:52PM Vic Time
Box 1 – Peter Rocket (Where’s Pedro – Belron Blue) – Vic
The Keith Hellmuth-trained Victorian sensation has been a wonderful performer since first gracing the track some 49 starts ago. With a career record of 20 wins and 19 placing’s, the August 2010 whelp has won in excess of $225,000 in prizemoney. With group wins in the Group 1 Megastar and the Group 2 Horsham Cup he is a multiple group finalist capable of running sub 30 at
the Meadows. With wonderful track form (12 starts – 5 wins and 6 placing’s) he looks well drawn in the cherry with the bonus of a wide runner drawn to his outside. Should have room to move early.
Box 2 – Punch One Out (Knocka Norris – Little Egyptian) – Qld
Owned and Trained by Grant Fennelly, the 27 kilogram speed machine is coming off her first group win when successful at her most recent start- the Group 3 Gold Coast Cup when running a flying 29.75 (BON) at Albion Park. Often mistaken as being a he, she is a flying machine as evidenced by track records at Wentworth Park and Richmond. With 44 career starts resulting in 22 wins and 14 placings, the February 2011 whelp has won in excess of $125,000 in prizemoney. She is a speed machine capable of anything on her day. Whilst yet to win at the Meadows (1 start – 1 third),, she did trial just .10 seconds outside the track record last week when scorching in a solo trial running 29.55. Well drawn and with fast beginner to her immediate outside she will have every chance.
Box 3 – Tomac Bale (Dyna Lachlan – Princess Bale) – Vic
The first of three finalists for Australia’s greyhound dynasty The Wheeler Family. Trained by Victorian Mentor Mark Delbridge, Tomac Bale headlines a kennel who have had an amazing 2013. Loves the Meadows with 7 wins from 11 starts here including a 29.67 PB. Group 2 winner of the Launching Pad, he is a multiple group finalist and was second at his most recent start, the Group 1 Adelaide Cup Final. 23 starts resulting in 12 wins and 4 placing’s and in excess of $150,000 in prizemoney. If he begins will take plenty of catching. A speed machine who can be risky (at times) at box rise – followers will know his chances in the first few strides.
Box 4 – Spud Regis (Bombastic Shiraz – Phiona) – Vic
December 2010 whelp who has faced criticism and negative comments about his invitation into this year’s event. Returning from a brief stud career, his last performance was very impressive winning at this track and trip in BOD 29.83 one month ago. Track specialist with 10 starts resulting in 6 wins and 1 placing. The son of legendary greyhound Bombastic Shiraz, he is himself a 3 time group winner including the 2012 Group 1 Adelaide Cup, Group 3 SA Derby and Group 1 Australian Cup. With 31 careers starts returning 16 wins and 10 placing’s, he has been a superstar on the track winning $450,000 in prizemoney. In the kennel of leading Victorian Mentor Andrea Dailly, Spud Regis will have plenty of support despite the awkward draw in box 4. He is a tenacious chaser who is brilliant early – a win would not surprise despite a limited preparation.
Box 5 – Xylia Allen (Turanza Bale – Tayah Bale) – Vic
Champion bitch who has had a wonderful 2013 campaign, including 4 Group wins (3 Group 1’s) – Group 1 National Sprint, Group 1 Sapphire Crown, Group 1 Peter Mosman and Group 2 Launceston Cup. Tenacious chaser who would run through a brick wall. Can be tardy early but does have excellent race awareness and field sense. 42 Career starts resulting in 17 wins and 16 placing’s including $377,000 in earnings. Fast PB of 29.63 at this track and distance. Second of the Wheeler runners and is a winning chance.
Box 6 – Glen Gallon (Flying Stanley – Incoherent) – Qld
Queensland Champion and third on the overall all-time prizemoney list with $618,000 in career earnings. Regular group performer in the hands of leading Queensland mentor Tony Brett. The four year old superstar is having his final race start before retiring to stud and is looking for his 4th Group 1 win (Brisbane Cup 2011, Winter Cup 2012 and 2013). A TOPGUN win would take his prizemoney past the great Miata as the all-time highest. 70 career starts resulting in 37 wins and 15 placing’s. Champion dog sure to be well supported in this despite the terrible draw.
Box 7 – Ernie Bung Arrow (Lochinvar Marlow – Slipper’s Tonic) – SA
Up and coming superstar from South Australia in the hands of popular mentor Ken Gill. The November 2011 whelp is the baby of the field and has only faced the starter on 14 occasions for 13 wins and 1 second. Last start Group 1 Adelaide Cup winner where he was ultra-impressive in what was his toughest test to date. The TOPGUN will be his first start at the Meadows and outside of South Australia. Trialled well and is sure to be improved after having his first look. Exceptional from the boxes, he has the ability to lead and is a definite winning chance.
Box 8 – Dyna Nalin (Ashom Bale – Tally Bale) – WA
West Australian speed machine and the third runner owned by the Wheeler dynasty. In the hands of leading WA trainer Paul Stuart (Miata) who is no stranger to winning big events away from home. Strong chaser who was victorious in winning the Group 1 Perth Cup in devastating fashion. Well drawn in box 8 as he can be a little tardy at box rise. Group performer who possesses a powerful motor and can finish over the top of these. Career earnings in excess of $278,000 from 38 starts for 25 wins and 7 placing’s. Has raced well at the Meadows with 3 starts resulting in 2 wins and a second including a 29.89 PB. Winning chance.
Box 9 – Gold Town (Surf Lorian – Golden Gwen) Vic
Trained by Lara mentor Peter Hunt, Gold Town has been a group performer throughout his 64 start career. Does have wonderful Meadows form with 19 starts resulting in 5 wins and 11 placings. Was in outstanding racing form prior to last start, when he fell in a heat of the Group 2 Geelong Cup. Recent form includes fast wins at Wentworth Park (Group 2 Bob Payne winner in 29.59BON) and Geelong (29.81B). Bank balance in excess of $191,000 – he is a strong greyhound capable of surprising if fortunate of gaining a start.
Box 10 – Marcus Joe (Velocette – Mojo Glory) Vic
Out of form recently, including a last start fall in a heat of the Group 2 Geelong Cup series. The April 2011 whelp is owned and trained by Marcus Hill mentor Barry Maloney. Has an incredible 29.66 PB at the Meadows and did win the Group 1 Maturity here in July 2013 beating Dyna Nalin. 25 career starts resulting in 7 wins and 10 placing’s he has close to $150,000 in career earnings. Is in a strong winning chance if he can rediscover his earlier career form
Selections – 2, 3, 8 and 1
With the race full of chances and conjecture, this year’s winner will not only be added to the honour role, but will be listed alongside some of Australia’s all-time greats – including: Rapid Journey (1998), No Intent (2001), Bombastic Shiraz (2003) and Meticulous (2007) as well as a host of famous Australian greyhounds of years gone by.