Exactly 12 months ago a 17 month old greyhound named Full Of Grace burst on to the coursing scene when winning an all-female event at Longwood.
Last Sunday, that same greyhound snared coursing’s ultimate prize – the Waterloo Cup at Lang Lang.
That win capped an impressive 12 months of racing for Full Of Grace. She has won seven from 23 TAB starts, posting some outstanding times in the process, and in between she has carved out some brilliant performances on the coursing circuit including winning the Werribee Cup at Melton in June and the Oaks at Longwood at the beginning of August.
That form saw her open up as an incredibly short $2.50 favourite to win the Waterloo Cup with bookmaker Gary Thomas after the field of 45 greyhounds was announced.
While Full Of Grace’s win didn’t surprise trainer Peter Craig, the manner in which she did it drew enormous praise.
To win the Waterloo Cup, greyhounds are required to race one-on-one six times across two days in a knockout competition, and Full Of Grace ran faster in the final than she did in her first run on the weekend.
“She ran 16.62sec in the final on Sunday, which was her sixth course in two days. That’s pretty extraordinary considering that in her first course (on Saturday) she ran 16.63sec.”
“A couple of her other runs on the weekend were in the 16.50s, so to be able to keep backing up and running those sorts of times shows she is something special,” said Craig, who is the President of the National Coursing Association of Victoria.
Craig, of Langwarrin, outlined why Full Of Grace has been such a successful coursing greyhound.
“She’s got a lot of ability but she’s not super quick early, which can get her into trouble in traditional racing.”
“But in coursing there is generally such little interference, so her overall speed comes into play without fear of her finding too much trouble.”
While Craig and Full Of Grace are now the toast of the coursing fraternity, the 2014 season has drawn to a close.
However, that won’t stop Craig from chasing the big races, beginning with this Sunday’s Group 2 Healesville Cup heats.
While Full Of Grace has had two starts at Healesville for a 2nd and a 4th, some of her best times on TAB tracks include a victory at Warrnambool in 25.07sec and more recently at Sale in 24.76sec, demonstrating that there are more strings to her bow than simply being a brilliant coursing greyhound.
“One thing’s for sure, she’ll be super fit for a crack at the Healesville Cup,” he said.
“History shows that greyhounds generally race really well first up after coursing, so hopefully her good form will continue.”
Owned by the Amstel Syndicate, Full Of Grace is a March 2012 daughter of El Grand Senor and Catch Up Sunday.
Her Waterloo Cup win earned connections $12,500 plus a $1,000 GOBIS Bonus.
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Full Of Grace (right) defeated the Karen Leek-trained Texan in the Waterloo Cup final.