It was a case of second time lucky in a country cup for lightly-raced NSW speedster La Grand Quality when he careered away with the Group 2 Warragul Cup Final (460m) on Saturday night.
It was an emotion-charged triumph for trainer Darryl Thomas and owner/breeder Kellie Fogarty, with La Grand Quality surviving two serious car accidents along the path to emulating his superstar sire El Grand Senor, which won the Warragul Cup in 2011.
“He’s a tough dog,” Thomas glowed.
“He’s pretty mentally strong; you have to be to win these races.
“We’re just rapt. I’m pretty lost for words actually.”
After breaking the Maitland 450m record in late October at just his ninth start, La Grand Quality made a huge impression during the Ballarat Cup series, breaking the 390m track record in a trial, winning his heat and running a close fourth to Western Envoy in the final.
La Grand Quality made his next appearance in the Warragul Cup heats and he earned a second crack at a Victorian provincial feature with a near-record 25.40s victory, the second fastest qualifying time behind Hooked On Scotch’s 25.34s.
The Cup Final then changed complexion dramatically with the scratching of Hooked On Scotch, which resulted in Melbourne Cup hero Whiskey Riot ($3.50), La Grand Quality ($3.70) and Bendigo Cup winner Crimson Vixen ($3.90) disputing favouritism.
WATCH: La Grand Quality win the Group 2 Warragul Cup from box six over Crimson Vixen (B5) and Peter Galo (B2).
La Grand Quality came out running from box six and after settling second behind Crimson Vixen he had the leader in his crosshairs turning for home.
La Grand Quality put paid to Crimson Vixen, drawing clear to score by 2 lengths in 25.63s, improving his impressive record to nine from 14, with Thomas praising his Victorian host Anthony Azzopardi, trainer of beaten favourite Whiskey Riot, which ran fourth.
“We needed to beat Whiskey Riot out of the boxes because last time he barrelled us but tonight he didn’t,” said Thomas.
“It’s been really good. I’ve got to learn a few different things off Anthony and it’s been good for the dog. The dog didn’t settle for Ballarat too well but this time he was much better.
“It’s not just Anthony. The whole team there took this dog on like one of their own and made it so much easier for me.
“I’ve been in greyhounds my whole life. My parents were in the greyhound game but we got out of it and got into the trots. But once it’s in your blood you always come back.
“We’ve just got to hope the dog keeps going. His next start will be Capalaba – that’s the plan.”
The Warragul Distance Cup (680m) went to $19.50 outsider Seve Rose, trained by Sharon-Lee Chignell, which stormed home to grab the $10,000 winner’s purse, grabbing Sandown Cup winner Rajasthan ($2.60) in the final bounds in 39.13s.