Darren McDonald is a name synonymous with success in greyhound racing, having been omnipresent on the group racing scene for more than a decade, winning all the major races on the calendar – except the SKY Racing Topgun.
He has won three Australian Cups, two Melbourne Cups, two Golden Easter Eggs and a Sandown Cup but McDonald has never been able to crack the unique invitation-only Topgun – one of the most prestigious and respected races on the calendar.
McDonald is philosophical about the final frontier in his training career saying that although it would be a fantastic feat, it doesn’t define his career.
“It will be awesome to win the Topgun but it’s not something I need to win to define my career as such,” McDonald said.
This year, he has two greyhounds in the race that could be the key to breaking the hoodoo. Group 1 Perth Cup winner Keybow and Group 2 Harrison-Dawson victor Awesome Project have the Topgun in their sights for McDonald and both are more than capable of winning the $150,000 first-prize.
McDonald believes there isn’t much between his two aspirants, but he did note that Keybow, despite a limited preparation, is in superb condition.
“Keybow is looking sensational at the moment, he’s fit and ready to go having had 10 weeks off,” McDonald
“The race itself is very hard to judge to be honest, I think Chica Destacada is vital to the race because she is drawn in box 1.
“It’s difficult to know exactly what will happen because Keybow (box two) and Buckle Up Wes (box five) have been out of racing for so long.
Keybow looking ‘sensational’ is an ominous warning for his rivals, with the son of Take The Kitty and Key Exit boasting a personal best time at The Meadows of 29.58 seconds, which is one of the best times ever recorded at the Broadmeadows venue.
Awesome Project reportedly is as fast as Keybow when the pair trial, but having drawn box six for the Topgun, faces a harder battle.
The son of Collision and Honour Phase, has a shy persona, but McDonald has been able to unlock the greyhound’s talent.
“He’s probably as fast as Keybow if they were racing one out,” he said.
“There’s not much between them. They probably have as good a chance as each other.
“They are both looking great and will be ready to go on Saturday night.”
If McDonald wins the SKY Racing Topgun on Saturday night it would be the final string in his bow and he may just have the greyhounds this year that prove to be the key to Topgun success.