The fields and box draws for the Group 1 Temlee (525m), Rookie Rebel (600m) and Zoom Top (725m) have been finalised, setting up a massive night of racing to launch this year’s $1.3 million Australian Cup Carnival.
The three invitational races – to be run on Saturday, February 16 – sees 24 finalists with a combined prizemoney total of over $5 million, highlighting the outstanding quality ready to clash next Saturday night. The fields were selected on four major criteria, including aged prizemoney, Group race performances, overall form and form at The Meadows.
Widely regarded as Australia’s best greyhound, Poke The Bear (box four) will be looking to become the first greyhound to win the TOPGUN-Temlee double after being selected for Saturday’s $100,000-to-the-winner final. The son of Fernando Bale and Nicki Fields will be looking to claim his third Group victory at The Meadows after wins in last year’s TOPGUN and Group 3 Silver Bullet. His 29.46PB here is the fifth fastest time ever on the track over the 525m journey.
One of his rivals will include brilliant chaser and recent Cranbourne Cup winner Orson Allen, who defeated the champ on Saturday in super fashion. Orson Allen finished second in the Group 1 Maturity at The Meadows in July, and has gone on to carve out a very impressive career since. New South Wales will be represented by two chasers in the Group 1 Temlee, including recent Paws Of Thunder winner Buck’s Future and star veteran chaser Cosmic Bonus, who will be having his first start in this state despite a career that is closing in on 90 starts.
Once again the Group 1 Rookie Rebel has brought together a fantastic field, including Group 1 winning stars Neo Cleo and Deliver, with both seemingly well supported on TAB markets across the country. Neo Cleo will be looking to go one better after finishing second in the Group 1 Hume Cup at The Meadows back in November, while Deliver is one of the country’s in-form middle distance chasers after a recent win in the Group-listed Maidment Memorial at Sandown.
The Zoom Top will see the return of champion stayer Tornado Tears, who has not had a race start since injuring a hock almost five months ago. The white and black chaser’s last victory here came in the Group 3 Topcat Video Cup, and he has also come within two lengths of Space Star’s track record run of 41.93 when winning in July last year. He has won a whopping seven Group races, including three at Group 1 level. A win on Saturday would clearly be one of the Robert Britton-trained chaser’s best performances considering his limited race preparation.
Next Saturday night will also see the running of the Australian Cup preliminaries, with qualifiers joining the top 56 greyhounds automatically seeded into February 23′s Australian Cup heats – with the whole series worth a huge $550,000 in prizemoney.
The Australian Cup Carnival is the world’s biggest greyhound spectacle, with over $1.3 million to be won over the famous three-week period (Feb 16, 23 and March 2). The Carnival includes the running of the $550,000 Group 1 Australian Cup, the Group 1 Super Stayers, the Group 1 Temlee, Rookie Rebel and Zoom Top and the Group 3 Vic Breeders for maidens, worth $25,000 to the winner.
PLEASE NOTE: Juniper Pearl has been scratched from the Group 1 Rookie Rebel. Blue Stiker will now gain a start and begin from box five unless there is another scratching.
PLEASE NOTE: Champagne Sally has been scratched from the Group 1 Zoom Top. Blue Moon Rising will now gain a start and begin from box two unless there is another scratching.
Tornado Tears last raced at The Meadows in September, 2018, and will have his first start back in Saturday’s Group 1 Zoom Top.