On Friday night, Above All, has the chance to become the first kiwi greyhound to win the world’s richest greyhound race, the TAB Melbourne Cup, since 1974.
Above All is trained by Rob Britton of Lara and since coming over to Australia after two starts in his home country, the determined chaser is making headlines, a similar progression to that of Kwik Medal – the first New Zealand bred greyhound to win the feature.
He has won six out of 10 starts, including five wins in Australia and three wins at Sandown Park. His comfortable four-length victory in his heat last week and his decent box three draw also has him well in the market with TAB offering $4.40 for this Friday night’s rich final.
Robert is part of a greyhound racing dynasty that goes back to hall of fame trainer Allan Britton. The family has won pretty much all the high-profile races in Australian greyhound racing, besides the Melbourne Cup.
“I think we’ve (the Britton family) have had more than 20 runners in the race over the years and we have placed at least six times but never been able to win.
“I would obviously be over the moon if we were to win it this Friday night; it would be great for us but also for the owners,” Britton said.
Robert has one finalist in the race, while his brother Jeff will put the lead on two finalists – Cosmic Wise (box five) and Star Recall (box six) – with the family hoping to end a run of outs in the $420,000 to-the-winner feature.
Above All will become the first New Zealand greyhound to win a Melbourne Cup since 1974 if successful on Friday night. Pic Clint Anderson.
Above All’s New Zealand owners, Merv O’Brien and Alison Lee, have had a difficult week with the passing of Alison’s father. The pair will make the journey over to Australia and be at Sandown Park on Friday night to watch Above All hopefully add some joy to a hard week.
The association between the Alison, Merv and Rob Britton begun in 2013 when talented greyhound Clone Your Own came to race in Australia. The couple toured a number of kennels seeking a suitable trainer for their prized greyhound and chose Rob.
“Merv and Alison came over last year and were looking for a kennel to place Clone Your Own,” Britton said.
“After visiting my kennel they let me know they wanted me to train him and that’s where the relationship started and it’s a great relationship.
“When Clone Your Own went back to New Zealand they let me know that they have another dog just as good as him and since I’ve had him (Above All) I’ve said ‘I think you’re right.”
The internationalisation of greyhound racing has just begun, with Rob being at the forefront of the movement.
He has trained a number of talented greyhounds from the United States and New Zealand and believes that international racing greyhounds are the next big improvement that will come to the Australian greyhound racing industry.
International interest in the TAB Melbourne Cup is at an all-time high with SKY Sports UK’s Julie Collier coming to the Cup on Friday night.
The New Zealand Herald is dedicating a truck load of space to their home grown hero this week as well.
“I can’t remember so much Kiwi interest in an Australian greyhound race before,” said Michael Guerin, racing editor of the New Zealand Herald, New Zealand’s biggest paper.
“A feature on the race and Above All leads our racing pages here on Thursday and it will be front page of the racing lift-out on Friday.
“So I’d say it will clearly be the most watched Australian greyhound race in NZ history.”