THE Topgun is a group 1 greyhound race which is held at The Meadows over 525m.
It is commonly referred to as the ‘Cox Plate of greyhound racing’ and is different to most feature race on the calendar in that runners are invited to compete in a straight out final, rather than qualifying through heats and semi-finals.
Invitations to nominate for the race are sent out roughly a month beforehand, with owners and trainers asked to confirm their interest in the series. Once the full list of nominees is confirmed, an expert selection panel meets to determine which greyhounds deserve a spot in the feature based on their previous performances in group and listed races.
The final field is announced around 10 days prior to the race, with the box draw held live at the track on the Saturday, seven days before the final.
The most recent edition of the Group 1 Topgun was run in October 2017 and was won by consistent sprinter Up Hill Jill.
Betting on the Topgun
Because it is a hand-picked field, the Topgun attracts the best sprinting greyhounds in pursuit of the lucrative prize and it is as such regarded as one of the biggest races on the annual greyhound racing calendar.
Naturally, with a brilliant field lining up, there is always plenty of betting interest on the Topgun. The event showcases the best sprinting talent greyhound racing has to offer – proven, genuine, fast and tenacious animals doing what they do best.
With so many people tuning in to watch and bet on the Topgun, betting pools are usually bigger which in turn results in a more lucrative winning dividend if you are skilful enough to pick the winner.
Additionally, you are also inclined to get plenty of value when betting on races such as the Topgun – with the talent spread evenly across the eight runners.
Another benefit of being a big greyhound race is that all of the leading online bookmakers will offer fixed odds betting in the weeks (and in some cases months) ahead of the final.
Many of our recommended online bookmakers have lucrative sign-up bonuses if you live outside Australia, so before placing a bet on you think will win the Topgun be sure to check them out.
History of the Group 1 Topgun
The Topgun was first run in 1993 and was remarkably a dead heat – with champion Victorian greyhounds Worth Backing (Worth Doing x Hot Footsteps Aug ’90) and Golden Currency (Shining Chariot x Currency Lass Aug ’91) unable to be split on the post and therefore splitting the $40,000 winner’s cheque.
In 1994 the race was held at the old Olympic Park track and the prize money was increased to $50,000. The next year it was run at the old Sandown Park circuit, with Rapid Hiker (Kareem x Sleep Walker Feb ’93) setting a new track record.
The 1997 race was a spectacle to behold, with greyhounds from Ireland, the UK and the United States making the voyage to compete against Australia’s best. Top honours went to Australian greyhound Chicago Blue (Reifenhauser x Tosawi May ’95).
The race was elevated to Group 2 status in 1998 and the very next year it became a Group 1 race feature.
In 2003, former champion race dog and sire Bombastic Shiraz (Black Shiraz x Bombastic Blonde Mar ’01) completed the Triple Crown of greyhound racing, taking out the Shootout, the Melbourne Cup and the Topgun.
Whisky Assassin (Awesome Assassin x Princess Whisky Jan ’02) made the race his own in 2004, setting a new 29.40 track record at Sandown Park with an emphatic victory off box eight. The next year prize money increased to $125,000, having been worth $100,000 for the three years prior.
The Topgun was moved to The Meadows in 2008 when the two Victorian metropolitan clubs – Sandown Park and the Melbourne Greyhound Racing Association (The Meadows) agreed to a new feature race structure. Previously the Topgun had alternated between the two tracks.
The race was rocked with scandal in 2009 when Jason Thompson’s champion superstar greyhound El Galo (Where’s Pedro x Roxy Reason Nov ’05) returned a positive swab. He was later disqualified and the win went to Regal Thyme (Bombastic Shiraz x Thyme Travel Nov ’05) which had originally run second after getting a start in the final off box one following the scratching of injured Queensland galloper Knocka Norris.
Victorian and Australian Greyhound of the Years won the race in 2008 and 2009, with Cindeen Shelby (Bombastic Shiraz x Proper Shelby Aug ’06) and El Grand Senor (Where’s Pedro x Elgrando Gold Apr ’08) winning their respective features.
One of the biggest upsets in the race was in 2012 when rank outsider David Bale (Bartrim Bale x Dyna Beauty Nov ’09) scored at $31.20 – running down his kennel mate Desalle Bale right on the line in 29.92. David Bale went on to have an underrated career as a sire, producing champion greyhound Fanta Bale.
The Wheeler family claimed their third straight win in the Topgun when WA chaser Dyna Nalin (Ashom Bale x Tally Bale Mar ’11) won the 2013 event, trained by Paul Stuart. The Wheelers also owned Allen Harper which won the race in 2011 and David Bale.
In 2014, Buckle Up Wes (Collision x Everlong Bale x June ’11) stamped himself as the best greyhound Tasmania has produced when winning the Topgun, in the process becoming the first dog to win the Australian Cup – Topgun double.
2015 saw millionaire man Fernando Bale (Kelsos Fusileer x Chloe Allen Mar ’13) lead all the way in a brilliant race record time of 29.57. It was his eighth and final group 1 victory.
The 2016 edition of the race was taken out by Dundee Osprey (Fabregas x Dundee Rose Dec ’13) for hobby trainer Geoff Scott-Smith. The black dog was invited to compete in the race after winning the Harrison-Dawson at Sandown Park earlier in the year and relished the wet track conditions on the night when saluting off box eight.
The most recent edition of the Topgun was taken out by Up Hill Jill for Rose and David Geall. The black bitch, which took out the Group 2 Laurels Classic in 2016, began brilliantly and never gave her rivals a chance, bolting clear to defeat Aston Dee Bee in a fast 29.89.
Group 1 Topgun – honour roll
1993 Worth Backing/ Golden Currency
1994 New Fox
1995 Rapid Hiker
1996 Wylie Boy
1997 Chicago Blue
1998 Rapid Journey
1999 Mint Magic
2001 No Intent
2002 Lindale Blue
2003 Bombastic Shiraz
2004 Whisky Assassin
2005 Black Enforcer
2006 Jaimandy Coops
2008 Regal Thyme
2009 Cindeen Shelby
2010 El Grand Senor
2011 Allen Harper
2012 David Bale
2013 Dyna Nalin
2014 Buckle Up Wes
2015 Fernando Bale
2016 Dundee Osprey
2017 Up Hill Jill