Victory in the Group 1 TAB Australian Cup would be the crowning glory for Western Australian superstar Tommy Shelby.
Tommy Shelby – affectionately dubbed the people’s dog – is already a Group 1 winner of the Hobart Thousand but trainer/breeder Steve Withers says winning one of the great races on the Australian calendar would be the icing on an especially sweet cake.
“It would be a massive exclamation mark on his career,” said Withers.
“It’s one of those grand slam races you watch on TV and wonder if you’ll ever have a dog good enough.
“I never thought I’d make one, let alone win one.
“It’s an honour to be in the race and to win it would be a special moment in our journey as owners and trainers.”
Named after the main character from TV series Peaky Blinders, Tommy Shelby is TAB’s joint $2.80 Cup favourite after a breathtaking heat victory, where he scorched around The Meadows in 29.51s, easily the quickest qualifying performance.
“It’s such a great cause and after the horrific fires back home recently – they were brutal – we were pretty quick to jump in and support them again.”
“He went super but it was more relief to see him get a clear run and the opportunity to show that he’s not gone, he’s not forgotten and still has plenty to offer,” said Withers.
Box draws haven’t been kind to Tommy Shelby during the Australian Cup Carnival.
In fact, they’ve been downright cruel.
After drawing six in the Group 1 Temlee invitational on opening night, the son of champion Victorian sprinter/sire Fernando Bale and Serena Fly High moved to five for his Cup heat and will exit four in the $300,000 to-the-winner final.
Withers and fellow connections, his wife Kira and Michael and Jodie Harders, are deserving of every bit of good fortune that comes their way, having generously decided to donate 10 per cent of their owners’ prizemoney to a different charity each month. Victory in the Australian Cup would equate to a $15,000 windfall for the charity currently aligned to Tommy.
WATCH: WA superstar TOMMY SHELBY (5) was simply phenomenal in his heat, leading from start to finish in a scintillating 29.51sec (Best).
“It’s the second time we’ve donated to Bushfire Volunteers WA,” Withers explained.
“It’s such a great cause and after the horrific fires back home recently – they were brutal – we were pretty quick to jump in and support them again.
“So far we’ve donated $25,000 and we’re hoping it goes up to $40,000 on Saturday night!”
Withers has done a wonderful job campaigning the length and breadth of the continent, with Tommy Shelby’s most recent appearance in his home state coming back on September 26.
Tommy Shelby has remarkably contested Group 1 events in Victoria, NSW, Queensland and Tasmania over the last seven months, with the ever-changing COVID landscape making Withers’ task all the more difficult.
“It’s been crazy. He’s probably travelled more than any greyhound in history and with Coronavirus it’s been madness,” said Withers.
“We’ve had to deal with hard lockdowns in different cities. You don’t know what’s going to happen – it’s quite often been changing by the hour – but you eventually get numb to it.”
Tommy Shelby is aiming to become the first WA greyhound to win the Australian Cup, in what is the 63rd running of the event dating back to 1958.
“It’s been crazy. He’s probably travelled more than any greyhound in history and with Coronavirus it’s been madness.”
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