This year will see the 55th running of the Australian Cup. For 29 of its runnings it was the richest race in the country. For this writer, and this is a purely personal feeling, I always rated the Australian Cup as ‘THE’ race, more than its equally illustrious counterpart the Melbourne Cup.
This may well have been because I used to love the old Olympic Park and, when I first started watching greyhound racing as a precocious teenager, there were a couple of winners for whom I have always had an affection: namely, Half Your Luck (1973) and Kim’s Monaro (1974).
The 2013 edition features a pretty good line-up of talent when compared with recent years. Between them, the eight qualifiers have raced 317 times for 160 wins. That’s a phenomenal 50.47 percent win-to-starts ratio among eight greyhounds. Make no mistake, this is truly a classy field.
The most recent Australian Cup with a field where the collective numbers of starts is similar to this years’ was back in 2011. In that year, the eight runners had competed 321 times for 117 wins, or 36.44 percent. That 2011 Cup was taken out by the New South Wales sprinter St Pierre from High Earner.
- Its 55 runnings have been on four tracks: North Melbourne (1958-1962), Olympic Park (1964-1995), Sandown Park (1996-1998), and The Meadows (1999-present). NOTE: Not run in 1963 when North Melbourne closed and racing moved to Olympic Park
- Held as a handicap from 1958 to 1965 inclusive
- It has been contested over six distances: 675 yards (1958-1962), 560 yards (1964-1972), 511 metres -which is nearly the same as 560 yards- (1973-1995), 515 metres (1996-1998), 518 metres (1999-2001), 525 metres (2002-present)
- The inaugural running was taken out by Rookie Rebel, one of the acknowledged greats, from the brilliant New South Wales star Magic Babe
- 10 winners from New South Wales: Old Tops (1964), Benjamin John (1969), The Smoother (1970), Kim’s Monaro (1974), Ungwilla Lad (1975), Odious (1976), Tenthill Doll (1996, although she began her career in Queensland), Smooth Rumble (1997), Most Awesome (2003, in a deadheat), and St Pierre (2011)
- Two South Australian winners: Ginger (1989) and Miss Spicy (2006)
- One Tasmanian winner: Meadow Vale (1960). Another Tasmanian, Arkaroola, ran second in 1975
- One Queensland winner: Bogie Leigh (2004)
- Only one deadheat in 54 runnings so far, and that was in 2003 when the judge could not separate the New South Wales greyhound Most Awesome and the Victorian Blackjack Tom. Fernando Prince and Shining Chariot dead-heated for third in 1987
- Box one won six successive Cup’s from 1970 to 1975 inclusive
- Dennis Direct, the odds-on favourite and runner-up in the 1961 Cup, finished his racing career and life in the United States
- The only grandsire-sire-son combo to win: Take A Bow (1962)-Benjamin John (1969)-Ungwilla Lad (1975)
- Only one greyhound has won twice: China Trip (1992 & 1993)
- Only one greyhound has won the race and then been placed the following year: Ungwilla Lad (won in 1975 and third in 1976), one greyhound has run second and then gone on to win the following year: Tangaloa (second in 1979 and won in 1980), and one has run third and then won the next year: Fawn Nulla (third in 1965 and won in 1966)
- Count D’Argent was fourth in 1977, but came back to win in 1978 and Franklin Deano was last in 1980 and came back to win in 1981
- Two greyhounds have run second twice: Cheltenham Lass (1965 & 1966) and El Galo (2009 & 2010)
- Only one greyhound has been third twice: Bomber Gleeson (1992 & 1993, the same years the race was won by China Trip)
- Two placegetters have later been disqualified for returning positive swabs: Busy’s Warrior (third in 1981) and Hotshow Vintage (second in 2000)
- Dual finalists: Idle Mate (third 1958, second 1959), Kalimna Boy (third in 1980, fifth in 1981), Brookside Red (second in 1999, seventh in 2000), and High Earner (fell in 2010, second in 2011)
- The 11 runnings of the race over the 525 metres at the Meadows since 2002 has seen box one successful three times, with boxes three, five, seven and eight scoring twice each (including the dead-heat), and box two once.