Tonight’s Group Two Mega Merch Ballarat Cup was an absorbing duel between two of the best horseshoe dog’s of the modern era, with the Jason Thompson trained Ronan Izmir rallying to beat Paw Licking in a classic race. Making the victory even more special for the winning connections was the $50,000 GRV Country Cup’s Bonus for winning three country cups in the one year. Meaning that Ronan Izmir pocketed $100,000 for his winning owner, Sally Burns, making this the most lucrative country cup result in Australian greyhound racing history.
Ronan Izmir pinged the lids to take the early lead in the cup and looked in control of the race early, but Kel Greenough’s Paw Licking showed amazing mid race acceleration to cross Ronan Izmir to lead clearly turning for home. Ronan Izmir then knuckled down in the straight to rally back in the shadows of the post to win in a blistering 25.09. He showed all the guts and determination that has made him such a special dog. The race was reminiscent of the stirring two horse battle in the 1986 Cox Plate, where champion gallopers Bonecrusher and Our Waverley Star battled it out for the last six hundred metres in an epic struggle.
The win capped off an amazing year for the son of Elite State and Adhara Izmir, adding the Ballarat crown to his Bendigo and Warrnambool wins from earlier in the year. This is the third time in 2013 that Ronan Izmir and Paw Licking have run the quinella in a country cup. Michael Sigalis summed it up perfectly when discussing the race earlier this week. “They are both exceptional horseshoe dogs. In the absence of Paw Licking, Ronan Izmir would be considered a champion and in the absence of Ronan Izmir, Paw Licking would be a champion. The rivalry has been such that they are splitting the spoils.”
The win of Ronan Izmir capped off a fantastic night for the Thompson kennel, who also won the consolation, with the highly talented sprinter Innocent Til holding off the fast finishing Banjo Boy.