The freakishly talented Houdini Boy claimed his first – but almost certainly not his last – Group 1 trophy with a stunning last-to-first victory in the Gold 98.3 FM Sale Cup Final (650m) on Boxing Day.
Trained by master Pearcedale mentor Kel Greenough, Houdini Boy has created headlines with his barnstorming performances and he needed to call on all the magical qualities of his namesake, renowned escape artist Harry Houdini, to open his Group 1 account.
While Houdini Boy raced in a more forward positon in a runaway 36.78s heat victory, the drifting $2.30 favourite from box five found himself in familiar territory at the tail of the field rounding the first turn in the Cup Final
With Hume Cup winner Last Hurrah setting the pace, the son of Zambora Brockie and Pechey, a daughter of Greenough’s Group 1-winning stayer So Seductive, improved along the rail before hooking to the outside in the home straight.
Once into the clear, Houdini Boy unleashed a powerhouse finishing burst to defeat Last Hurrah and Bobby The Brute in 36.96s.
“It’s a great feeling. He’s an exciting dog,” said handler Darren Pattinson, representing the Greenough kennel.
“Down the back he’s given them a long start, he got into trouble everywhere he went. To run them down like that is just a fantastic effort.
“His will to chase and win the race is what makes him what he is. He can get knocked over, he can go around them. He can do whatever.
“That’s why he’s such an exciting dog.”
“He can get knocked over, he can go around them. He can do whatever. That’s why he’s such an exciting dog.”
Pattinson, who played Test cricket for England, didn’t hesitate to rate being associated with Houdini Boy as a personal sporting highlight.
“It’s better than playing cricket!” he laughed.
“I’m just really proud of the dog and everyone at home.”
Houdini Boy has now won 13 of his 24 starts and the Sale Cup was his second Group victory, after he won the Group 3 Speed Star over 600m at Sandown Park in September.
He’s also appeared in Group 1 events over staying and sprinting distances, running third in the Bold Trease over 715m and sixth in the Vic Peters Classic over 520m.
While it was Houdini Boy’s first Group 1 success, his owner Mark Ruff is certainly no stranger to racetrack celebrations, having been involved in the ownership of two Melbourne Cup winners in the thoroughbred code; Twilight Payment this year and Rekindling in 2017.
Earlier in the night, the Cup Night Match Race, held over the Cup course, saw Run Like Jess, trained by Rob Camilleri, defeat Blazing Cartier in 36.81s.
There was a surprise result in the Dunkley’s Machinery Rising Star Final (440m) when $23 roughie Hoffa, prepared by Glenn Rounds, led all-the way in 24.64s, while Deb Coleman’s first reserve Zipping Sullivan held on to win the Sale Motor Group Summer Cup Final (520m) in 29.28s.
After missing out with the favourites in both the Rising Star (Louie Lou) and Summer Cup (Taken), Jason Thompson took out the Gippsland Festival Sprint Final (440m) with Warrnambool Cup winner Zambora Smokey in 24.47s.
WATCH: HOUDINI BOY (5) produces arguably the biggest run of 2020 to take out the Group 1 Sale Cup from LAST HURRAH (6) and BOBBY THE BRUTE (4) in 36.97sec.
WATCH: RUN LIKE JESS (1) defeats BLAZING CARTIER (3) in the Cup Night Match Race over 650m in 36.81sec for trainer Robert Camilleri.
The Sale Cup was the opening event of greyhound racing’s 2020-21 Gippsland Festival of Racing, which now moves to the Warragul Cup in January before finishing with the Cranbourne Cup in February. Click here for more information.