By Phil Weir
What’s in a name? ‘Sure to Excite’ – according to owner, trainer and breeder Graham James – is gearing up to do just that in greyhound racing’s $67,000 Group 2 Cranbourne Cup on Saturday night.
The Woodleigh based greyhound has taken his career to another level of late, running fourth in last month’s Warragul Cup and running 2nd in a heat of the Cranbourne Cup last Saturday.
Graham says “At three and a half, he’s the oldest dog in the field; but he’s at his best now. He had his career interrupted for about six months from the age of two, but has been putting together some steady, consistent racing over the past few months.”
“He’s had a group win (Northern Districts Cup at Shepparton) when he was about 20 months, so we know he’s got the ability”.
Graham’s been in the business near on 25 years and moved to being a full-time trainer at his Woodleigh Kennels five years ago. “We’ve got about 15 dogs in work at the moment and breed two or three litters every year.
The James Family Syndicate is a truly family affair; Graham, his wife Cassandra, son Cory and daughters Chloe and Bailey. They’re keen on racing at their local tracks and are staunch supporters of greyhound racing’s annual Gippsland Carnival.
“Warragul and Cranbourne and pretty much our home tracks – and Sure To Excite seems to run well on them as well. The Gippsland Carnival is such a great idea. We’ve certainly seen how popular it’s been with the public.”
A quality field has been assembled for the Cranbourne Cup after the first two placegetters in the four heats qualified for the final, including superstar duo Orson Allen and Poke The Bear.
And the chances of Sure to Excite on Saturday? “There are some superstars in the field – Orson Allen is sensational. Poke the Bear? Well, what can you say? It’s going to be tough, and drawing the outside probably isn’t his preferred starting point. He’ll do his best work at the end,” he said.
This is the 45th running of the Cranbourne Cup and the culmination of the 2018-19 Gippsland Carnival series. This is the third year of the series, which continues to generate impressive crowds at the four Gippsland venues; Sale, Warragul, Cranbourne and Traralgon (although the latter was cancelled this year due to track safety issues).
The Cranbourne Cup offers prizemoney of $47,000 to the winner, with two supporting features on the night providing first prizes of $10,000 (699m Victoria Cup) and $5000 (311m Van Echteld).
Cranbourne promises another remarkable night of entertainment, including the appearance of Collingwood legend Dane Swan, the trackside party paddock, food trucks and children’s activities. With free entry, it’s a night that will create plenty of good memories.
The Inside Word:Simone Fisher talks to trainer Graham James about Sure To Excite's chances in the Cranbourne Cup on Saturday night.
2019 CRANBOURNE CUP
Saturday night 9 February – 520 metres
1. Wears Woodleigh (Ian Brown, Loch) $41
2. Poke The Bear (SeonaThompson, Pearcedale) $2.10
3. Orson Allen (Correy Grenfell, Avalon) $2.30
4. Hightan (Michelle Nolan, Devon Meadows) $26
5. Huxley (Paul Abela, Parwan) $9
6. Blue Striker (Peter Akathiotis, Reservoir) $14
7. Azkaban (SeonaThompson, Pearcedale) $7
8 Sure To Excite (Graham James, Woodleigh) $26
9. Hasten Slowly (Angela Langton, Anakie) $6
10. Dyna Chancer (Correy Grenfell, Avalon) $14
Note: Odds supplied by tab.com.au as at 6 February, 2019
Photo by Clint Anderson