While the race to be crowned Victorian Greyhound of the Year has been decided away from the racetrack, the competition for the 2018-19 title has been as fierce as any on-course battle the contenders have fought throughout their stellar careers.
The Victorian GOTY winner, as well as the Sprinter and Stayer of the Year and other awards, will be announced at tonight’s Victorian Greyhound Awards ceremony, to be held at Crown.
These prestigious awards are voted on by the Victorian GOTY Panel, based on performances between 1 July, 2018 and 30 June, 2019.
Won for the last two years by champion Fanta Bale, this year’s Victorian GOTY will be fought out by a stellar crop, headlined by (in alphabetical order) Dyna Patty, My Redeemer, Orson Allen, Poke The Bear and Tornado Tears, which appears to have the Stayer of the Year gong at his mercy.
Remarkably, four of the five frontline contenders – Dyna Patty, My Redeemer, Poke The Bear and Tornado Tears – were sired by the 2015/16 Victorian and Australian Greyhound of the Year Fernando Bale.
Dyna Patty, which like the great Fernando Bale is trained by Andrea Dailly for the Wheeler family, started the 2018/19 period in a blaze of glory, winning the Group 1 Maturity Classic.
She then added a second Group 1 at The Meadows to her resume in the Australian Cup.
Dyna Patty went on to win the Group 2 Warrnambool Cup, while her other feature race appearances included finishing third in the Group 1 Perth Cup and runner-up in Sandown’s Group 3 Easter Gift and qualifying for the finals of the Group 1 Topgun, Group 2 Ballarat Cup and Group 3 Silver Bullet.
My Redeemer stamped his claim for GOTY honours when triumphing in the biggest race on the Victorian calendar, the Group 1 Melbourne Cup, continuing a golden period for trainer Dave Geall.
My Redeemer was retired to stud while still at the peak of his powers after finishing sixth in the Australian Cup Final in March, while he also contested the Group 1 Temlee, Group 3 Warragul St Leger and Group 3 Cranbourne Classic.
Orson Allen, prepared by young mentor Correy Grenfell, lined up in an amazing 17 Group events over the 2018/19 period and was a two-time winner at Group 1 level in the Perth Cup and Harrison-Dawson, while he was runner-up in both the Temlee and Maturity Classic.
The son of KC And All also won the Group 2 Cranbourne and Horsham Cups, Group 3 Sandown Shootout and Listed Australian Sprint.
Poke The Bear, trained by Seona Thompson, was unstoppable at his best, as evidenced when he put the best sprinters in the land to the sword in the Topgun, while he also won the Group 3 Silver Bullet, both events at The Meadows.
Poke The Bear’s other noteworthy achievements included qualifying for the Melbourne Cup, Temlee and Paws Of Thunder, all Group 1s, finishing second in the Group 2 Cranbourne Cup and starting favourite in the inaugural Million Dollar Chase Final.
Australia’s number one stayer, Tornado Tears, could give master trainer Robert Britton a third straight Victorian GOTY victor.
Despite spending a significant period on the sidelines due to injury, Tornado Tears won the Group 1 National Distance Championship (at Sandown), Group 1 Zoom Top invitational, Group 3 Top Cat Video Cup and Group 3 Albion Park Superstayers.
He was runner-up in the Group 1 Galaxy after breaking the Cannington track record in his heat and qualified for the finals of another four Group 1s, the Super Stayers, Sandown Cup, Association Cup and Albion Park Gold Cup.
The five abovementioned contenders all laid legitimate claim to being the premier greyhound sprinter of stayer in Australia at different stages of the 2018-19 season.
But could there be an upset tonight? Remarkably, three other Victorian-trained greyhounds won two Group 1s apiece during the season – Barooga Brett, Deliver and Neo Cleo – adding further intrigue to the panel’s decision.
VICTORIAN GOTY CONTENDERS
Group wins (1 July 2018 to 30 June 2019)
G1 Silver Chief
G3 Cup Night Sprint
G1 Vic Peters
G1 Rookie Rebel
G1 Australian Cup
G1 Maturity Classic
G2 Warrnambool Cup
G1 Melbourne Cup
G1 Sale Cup
G1 Sapphire Crown
G3 Easter Gift
G3 Race Callers
G1 Perth Cup
G2 Cranbourne Cup
G2 Horsham Cup
POKE THE BEAR
G3 Silver Bullet
G1 National Distance Championship
G1 Zoom Top
G3 Top Cat Video Cup
G3 Superstayers Invitational