Champion sprinter Whiskey Riot will emulate three greyhound immortals if successful in Saturday night’s Group 1 TAB Australian Cup final (525m) at The Meadows.
Rookie Rebel (1957/1958), Tangaloa (1978/1980) and Dyna Double One (2015/2016) are the only greyhounds in the sport’s history to capture the elusive Melbourne Cup/Australian Cup double.
He’ll also join an exclusive millionaire’s club if victorious, as the $300,000 winner’s purse would spiral his prizemoney to $1,050,810 – the sixth-highest of all-time.
Whiskey Riot won last year’s G1 Melbourne Cup, but trainer Anthony Azzopardi said “he’s a bit disadvantaged” after drawing box eight for the rich final.
“He likes to find the rail… He’ll work his way down to the ‘fence’, but he has to get around them,” Azzopardi said. “It’s a hard race now, but he’s won before from tough draws.”
Whiskey Riot was an easing $2 favourite on tab.com.au following the box draw and Azzopardi envisages a host of dangers in the final.
“Hard Style Rico (Box 3) is a good young dog and could get the dream run, and I think Aston Cade (Box 1) has a great chance but is probably better suited out wide,” Azzopardi said. “But the ‘five’ (Hardaway Winnie) will be hard to toss. The way the draw has panned out, she’s boxed to the minute.”
Azzopardi also has Whiskey Riot’s brother, Fernando’s Riot (Box 6), in the race. “He’s in this right up to his ears,” he said. “But I’m worried about Scatterbox (Box 7), which has early speed and can race wide.”
But Azzopardi says Whiskey Riot is “still the one to beat”.
WATCH: Whiskey Riot win his heat of the TAB Australian Cup from box four.
“He’s going better than when he won the Melbourne Cup… He just needs luck at the first turn,” he said. “But the big question is, will he get it? He’s definitely not a certainty!”
Azzopardi says Whiskey Riot will at least have one thing in his favour come box rise: “his will to win”.
“Most champions have a win-at-all-costs trait and he’s such a tenacious chaser… He’s got it all – from start to finish.”
And he added: “He also has a great temperament. He’s totally relaxed; cool, calm and collected…. Nothing worries him, and he doesn’t waste an ounce of energy off the track.”
Azzopardi also has NSW distance queen Just Terms engaged in the G1 Fanta Bale Super Stayers final (725m), which carries a $100,000 first prize.