TRAINER Angela Langton reckons it’s no coincidence that each and every greyhound in Friday night’s $600,000 TAB Melbourne Cup Final resides in the greater Geelong region.
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It isn’t something in the water – instead, Langton says, it’s an abundance of quality trainers and greyhounds, “not that there’s not quality trainers and greyhounds anywhere else.”
Buoyed by successes in one of the state’s most unique races in recent years, the Warrnambool Classic, and countless other group races, the Langton-Jeff Britton partnership has become one of the state’s most prolific kennels.
However, Black Illusion is Langton’s first ever Melbourne Cup finalist, and he’ll be chasing for the mammoth $420,000 first prize, the biggest purse in world greyhound racing.
“It’s a great thrill to have a dog and watch it grow up from a little puppy, after you’ve whelped the litter down, and all of a sudden you’ve got a Melbourne Cup starter,” she said.
“You get dogs like Shared Equity who come along, and you don’t really expect them to be a group racer – but next thing you know they’re in five group race finals.
“Jeff had a great year last year, as he won a few group races – and I guess you always wonder if you’re going to get any better than what you have at the time.”
Langton, who has enjoyed plenty of success with several of her talented chasers including Shared Bonus and Shared Equity in 2015, was humble about the chances of Black Illusion – but proud to be a part of one of the most prestigious nights in greyhound racing.
“It’s a great thrill to have a dog and watch it grow up from a little puppy, after you’ve whelped the litter down, and all of a sudden you’ve got a Melbourne Cup starter”
– ANGELA LANGTON
Black Illusion, who is drawn next to champion racer Fernando Bale, is set to begin at the long pre-race odds of $51 – but as an affirmed track specialist, the son of Collide and My Secret Shiraz could be the surprise packet of the evening.
“He’s got a few outside runners who will look to push out wide on the inside of him, so it could make it a hard race for him,” Langton said.
“It’s very hard to get into a race like this and it is very cutthroat. You’ve got to draw well and hope things go well on the night.
“He (Black Illusion) seems to grow a leg when he’s drawn on the inside … There’s a lot of speed in the race this year, and I think he’ll probably struggle from box five.
“Had he drawn the red he may have had a chance of running a place. However, it was a great effort for him to get there and it’s going to be an honour just to be in the race.”
The TAB Melbourne Cup is Race 8 on Friday at Sandown, launching at approximately 9:08pm over the 515m.WATCH: Black Illusion (1) showed brilliant box manners when winning his TAB Melbourne Cup heat last week.