$14,400 per second. That’s what one greyhound will win in the world’s richest greyhound race, the TAB Melbourne Cup (515m), tonight at Sandown Park.
Overall, the race is worth $600,000 with $420,000 going to the winner. Although this is the richest greyhound race in the world, it is by no means a flash in the pan. There is $41 million in prize money distributed annually in Victoria with 18 races worth more than $100,000. Greyhound racing is now a lucrative sport.
This year’s Melbourne Cup field has it all. There are professional trainers, small-time hobby trainers and champion greyhounds. The stories that emanate from a race of this prestige befit the occasion.
The sentimental favourite for the race will be Luca Neveelk. A greyhound trained by Rose and Gerry Kleeven in the small town of Denison in Gippsland. The couple – in their 70’s – only train three greyhounds. Their operation is a labour of love with the Luca Neveelk’s mother living inside their home and occupying prime position on her rug in the lounge room.
Tonight could be the ultimate birthday present for Gerry, too. He celebrates his birthday on the night of the final while Rose celebrated her birthday on the night of the heats last Thursday – an omen bet for the novices perhaps? Luca Neveelk has drawn box seven for the race and opened at $26.00 with TAB, he is now $16.00, but $1.01 with the sentimentalists.
Above All from box three brings the international spice to the race. Having begun his career in New Zealand, Above All came across the Tasman aiming for the riches of Australian greyhound racing and after just eight starts in Australia, has the chance to win the world’s richest greyhound racing event. He has been the talk of the town in New Zealand as well.
Owners Alison Lee and Merv O’Brien have had an extremely difficult week, with Alison losing her father on the night of the heats. They have made the journey across to Australia for tomorrow night’s race with the loving memory of him in their hearts.
Above All is trained by Robert Britton whose brother Jeff has two greyhounds in the final as well – Cosmic Wise in box five and Star Recall in box six. The Britton’s are a family synonymous with success in greyhound racing with their father Allan a hall of fame trainer. The Britton family have had more than 20 finalists in the Melbourne Cup and have placed on at least six occasions in the race. With nearly half the field in tomorrow night’s race, a change of luck could be in the air.
Moving from one major kennel to another. Darren McDonald is a trainer that has the respect and admiration of most within the industry. He is known as one of the best greyhound trainers in the country with his training methods all predicated on care for the animal.
McDonald puts the lead on race favourite Keybow in box one, who if successful will ensure the both the greyhound Melbourne Cup and the thoroughbred Melbourne Cup will be won from owners in the New South Wales country town of Maitland. McDonald also trains Awesome Project who is a track specialist and has drawn box four in the race.
Interstate interest in the race comes from New South Wales with the National Sprint Champion Chica Destacarda engaged in the race from box two. Her trainer Doreen Dynan was over the moon when winning the $75,000 in the National Sprint, can you imagine the elation if $420,000 goes across the border? In Spanish, Chica Destacarda means ‘Outstanding Girl’ and after her near best of the night heat win, there is no doubting that this girl is an outstanding talent.
Finally, Dyna Villa has box eight. If you’re looking for a greyhound with a fantastic track-record, there’s no way you can leave this greyhound out of calculations. He has won seven from seven at Sandown Park and three out of three from box eight. He is trained by Jenny Hunt of Lara and the Wheeler family who own the greyhound are without a doubt the most successful breeding operation in the country.
All in all, the TAB Melbourne Cup is a race full of intrigue and prestige. The entire story of greyhound racing is encapsulated in a cross-section of an industry that is on the rise. A sport that is making waves and a past-time that is becoming mainstream.
Greyhound racing is a sport for everyone and tonight everyone’s eyes will be on the world’s richest greyhound race the TAB Melbourne Cup.
The TAB Melbourne Cup is Race 8 at Sandown Park tonight. Gates open at 6.00pm and entry is free.
Come and see what all the fuss is about.