On the eve of the greatest greyhound race in the world the TAB Melbourne Cup Lunch was held on the roof of Crown Casino which was bathed in sunshine.
Trainers, owners and breeders lunched with sporting idols, industry leaders and the media, hearing from experts and fans about what the sport means to them; but mostly, who’s going to win. No surprises was the strong support for the favourite, Hooked On Scotch.
Form expert George Farrugia, speaking with GRV’s Andrew Copley, reckons Hooked On Scotch has what’s needed. “He’s still got to navigate from a wide draw (box 8), which I think is tough in group one races, but he’s just such a freakish greyhound, so exciting to watch, so it’s hard to go past him.”
Campini is also one to watch, according to George. “He’s drawn where he really wants to be. If there’s a little bit of a jam on that first corner and he sticks to the fence he’s going to be right in it.”
AFL legend Brent ‘Boomer’ Harvey is also on the favourite but he holds a lot of respect for Flynn. “I always like the box number 4, so maybe Hooked On Scotch and Flynn for an Exacta.”
Hooked On Scotch was also lauded on his new track record in the Cup heats, with breeder and part-owner Darren Puleio receiving – appropriately – a bottle of Johnny Walker Blue Label Scotch.
Jack Heverin, co-host of greyhound racing’s new show ‘Thill Of The Chase’ on 7mate, also had trouble seeing past the favourite, but admitted he was ‘half inclined’ to pick Campini. “I think Campini is a massive chance. We had the box draw on ‘Thrill Of The Chase’ and he drew really well.”
James Van de Maat, who will call the Melbourne Cup Final, is also on Campini, ahead of Hooked On Scotch, Get It Gizmo and Whiskey Riot.
“Campini is mad for the rail and was the greyhound most keen to get to the inside so box 1 is a real plus for him,” James said.
In his phantom call of the race, however, James called the first ever eight-way photo finish, to the delight of the crowd assembled.
Dual premiership Richmond champion Jack Riewoldt was keen on a roughie, not coincidentally in the yellow and black; Western Envoy, currently at $31.
“Hopefully the yellow and black can salute again as it did in the last Saturday in September,” Riewoldt said.
Radio stations 1116 SEN and RSN 927 broadcasted regular programming live from the event which ramped up promotion along with extensive coverage across social media.
Musical entertainment came from more legends; Dragon, now approaching 50 years in the business with more hits than Muhammed Ali.
Photos by Clint Anderson