Almost exactly 12 months ago Luca Neveelk and trainer Gerry Kleeven (pictured) were on top of the greyhound racing world when they took out the $355,000 Group 1 Australian Cup (525m) at The Meadows (Results).
The Gippsland hobby breeder/trainer remembers the night fondly, as this was his first Group 1 win in 40 years in the sport.
“Winning the Australian Cup was truly the most amazing feeling. Words can’t really explain just how good the feeling was. For me it was unbelievable because we bred the line. I felt like I was in heaven, it was just incredible,” Kleeven said.
Because Gerry and wife Rose run a modest operation, deliberately choosing to breed in small numbers to allow them to give their pups the best care and attention, Luca Neveelk’s win was among the most popular in the Australian Cup’s rich 58 year history.
“Luca’s Australian Cup win opened the door for the 90% of breeders and trainers who fall into the ‘hobby’ category, many of whom spend a lifetime hoping to win a Group 1.”
“It’s something every trainer aspires to do, and I feel as though it gave people hope that anyone can breed and train a champion if you work hard at it and give your greyhounds every chance. It was just magic,” Gerry explained.
“His Australian Cup win opened the door for the 90% of breeders and trainers who fall into the ‘hobby’ category, many of whom spend a lifetime hoping to win a Group 1” – GERRY KLEEVEN
“He is a once in a lifetime dog, and my advice to anyone training greyhounds is to look after your dogs, because if they’re happy, they will run well.”
Gerry is now experiencing a new role in greyhound racing, that of being Luca Neveelk’s stud master. After an injury led to the superstar into his stud career after 29 wins from 48 starts and more than $500,000 in prize money, Gerry couldn’t be happier with his greyhound’s transition.
“He is pretty happy about what he has to do now. He definitely has turned into a stud dog now. He is very interested in the girls and I think he has forgotten all about racing,” Kleeven said.
Luca Neveelk (Talk’s Cheap – It’s A Neveelk) currently has three litters on the ground – the oldest of which is six months – and he is hopeful that his greyhound’s enormous desire to win will pass on to his progeny.
“Luca Neveelk wasn’t the fastest beginner in the Australian Cup, but he used his physicality to bullock his way to the lead and the rest is history.”
“This year’s Australian Cup looks like Dyna Double One is the dog to beat if he is anywhere near the early lead, but if he doesn’t begin well I can really see it being a (Jason) Thompson Quinella, and I rate his greyhound Xtreme Knocka as a bit of a smokey.”
The 2016 Australian Cup will be run this Saturday night at The Meadows, drawing a close to the $1.3M Australian Cup Carnival.
WATCH: Luca Neveelk (4) showed enormous determination to win the
2015 Group 1 Australian Cup.