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Tim following Britton Cup tradition

It’s fitting that young trainer Tim Britton will have his first Group 1 finalist in Saturday night’s $429,000 TAB Australian Cup (525m), following a proud family tradition in the race his father Robert has won three times in his decorated career.

Robert’s victories came courtesy of Isa Brown in 2002, Tasman Queen 2008 and most recently with champion Fanta Bale in 2017.

Fanta Bale returned the following year to win the Group 1 Super Stayers on Australian Cup night, with the race now named in her honour.

On Saturday at The Meadows, 30-year-old Tim will experience the biggest thrill of his relatively brief training career when $41 outsider Utah Blues exits box one in one of the great races on the Australian calendar.

“It’s actually a weird feeling,” Britton said ahead of the $300,000 to-the-winner final, to run at 9.37pm.

“I had Carry On Maxwell in the (Group 3) Great Chase last year but this is definitely the biggest race I’ve been in and I’m excited for Saturday.

“There’s not really any pressure because I’m going in with a roughie so I can just enjoy the night.”

Britton had three runners in last weekend’s Cup heats, with former NSW sprinter Utah Blues, a son of Barcia Bale and Utah Miss that relocated to Victoria late in 2020, sent around as a $19.40 roughie from box one in the sixth run-off.

In the biggest shock of the night, Utah Blues took advantage of the rails alley to lead Mr Fix It ($8.50) and to his trainer’s surprise he fought on strongly to deny Mr Fix It and favourite Do It ($2.90) in 30.05s, the ‘slowest’ qualifying performance.

The upset victory continued Utah Blues’s consistent from for Britton, under whose guidance he’s won five from 12 and missed a place only twice, running fourth on both occasions.

“There’s not really any pressure because I’m going in with a roughie so I can just enjoy the night.”

Britton’s other two heat runners, Utah Express, a litter brother to Utah Blues, and Carry On Star finished fourth and seventh respectively, with Utah Express heading to Sydney for the Group 2 Richmond Derby heats this Friday.

“I didn’t expect to get a runner through. It was wishful thinking!” Britton said.

“But I did think that off the red Utah Blues could lead. I expected him to be gobbled up in the home straight but he kept going, although the time wasn’t as quick as the other heats.”

Despite drawing box one again, from where he boasts a perfect four from four record, Utah Blues, will be even longer odds on Saturday, having not broken 30 seconds in his three wins at The Meadows.

“He needed box one in his heat and he needed it again in the final if he wants to play but it’s going to be pretty hard,” Britton conceded.

“He’s up against some very fast dogs and he’s not quite up to their times but he likes the rail and he’s a frontrunner so he could maybe run a place if there’s some trouble.”

Tim was always destined to continue the family dynasty, following the trail blazed by grandfather Allan Britton, a GRV Hall of Fame inductee, uncle Jeff Britton and aunty Linda Britton, both multiple Group 1-winning trainers at the top of their craft.

“I’ve been helping dad pretty much all my life,” Tim explained.

“Dad and I train together and I’ve been very lucky to have him as a mentor.

“I went over to America for about three years, which was a great experience. Dad had a property in Kansas and we were breeding and rearing pups to put them in auctions or give them out to trainers.

“It was a really good project. I was only going over there for six months to have a look but I stayed for three and a half years. I had a lot of fun, learnt a lot and met a lot of people.

“I came back to Australia in March 2019 and got my trainers license in September that year.”

Not content to be pushed out of the limelight just yet, dad Robert has Here’s Tears ($26) chasing back-to-back victories in the Group 1 Super Stayers (725m) at The Meadows on Saturday at 9.12pm.

WATCH: The legendary Fanta Bale (8) wins the 2017 Australian Cup for Robert Britton.

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About Gerard Guthrie - One of Australia's leading greyhound racing journalists since 2000 with the Greyhound Recorder and now with Greyhound Racing Victoria. Part-owner 2013 Group 1 Paws Of Thunder winner Sheikha. (The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of GRV)
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