It was a case of second time lucky in the Hume Cup Final for Glenn Dainton when Black Impala was an all-the-way winner of the Group 1 middle distance feature at The Meadows on Monday night.
In 2013, Dainton finished second in the Hume Cup with Bookkeeper, which had broken The Meadows 600m track record when winning his heat; however any lingering disappointment was permanently erased when Black Impala held favourite Neo Cleo at bay at the traditional Melbourne Cup Eve meeting.
“I never thought I’d win a Group 1, but luckily Joe (Borg, owner) gave me a dog to train and here we are,” said a delighted Dainton.
“I’ve had greyhounds for 30 years and been training for the past seven years. We have a lot of family here tonight. We had a feeling he’d go well.”
Black Impala qualified for his first Group final when winning his Hume Cup heat in 34.33sec, leading throughout from box eight, and after again drawing wide in seven for the $75,000 to-the-winner decider he started at $7.30, with Neo Cleo the $3.50 favourite.
Black Impala took the lead at the winning post the first time, crossing Neo Cleo and Lila Bale ($5.10).
Neo Cleo laid down the gauntlet to Black Impala approaching the home turn, but Black Impala kept kicking strongly to score by a length in 34.17sec, his 14th win from 44 starts and a career highlight for Cosgrove-based Dainton.
Black Impala is bred to be a middle distance dynamo, with his dam, Proven Impala, victorious in the Group 1 Rookie Rebel over 600m at The Meadows in 2013, while she also ran fourth in the 2013 Hume Cup, where Dainton’s Bookkeeper was runner-up.
Proven Impala was trained by Joe Borg, who also races Black Impala.
“I’m just elated. I didn’t expect him to win tonight,” said Borg.
“I’ve been involved in greyhound racing for 32 years and I’ve trained four or five Hume Cup finalists, including Black Impala’s dam, Proven Impala, but I’ve never won this race before. They’re hard to win and now I’ve won one as an owner.
“Glenn has done a fantastic job with him. I was a bit worried when Neo Cleo was on his hammer.”
* Compiled by Gerard Guthrie and Andrew Copley. Photos by Clint Anderson.