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Tonk’s tough Cup task

Young gun Victorian trainer Correy Grenfell believes a wide draw is a body blow to Tiggerlong Tonk’s chances of celebrating an overdue Group 1 breakthrough at his ninth attempt in Saturday night’s TAB Australian Cup (525m).

Frustratingly for Grenfell, the ultra-consistent Tiggerlong Tonk has finished in the minor placings in five of his eight Group 1 appearances, with his career highlights to date coming in last year’s G2 Horsham Cup, G3 Shootout and G3 Easter Gift.

Coming off a less than ideal preparation, Tiggerlong Tonk delighted Grenfell with a gutsy 29.74sec heat victory but hopes of a deserved G1 success then nosedived when the son of 2016 Australian Cup hero Dyna Double One drew box seven.

“It doesn’t help when you keep drawing out wide,” said a downcast Grenfell, 27.

“He gets decent boxes when it doesn’t matter and then when he gets to the big stage he gets nothing.”

Despite Grenfell’s pessimism about the wide alley, Tiggerlong Tonk, which has won 34 of his 68 starts, sits prominently on the third line of TAB betting at $6.

“The six (Fernando Bluey) is going to bring him over but he’s going to need all his class to get across and luck getting around the first corner.

“He deserves a Group 1 next to his name for the dog he is. He went straight into a Group 1 after about 15 starts (2019 Hobart Thousand) and he’s been there ever since.

“He’s been such a consistent dog. He’s nearly won $400,000 and with some more luck with draws he could’ve doubled that and been up with a dog like Simon Told Helen ($918,941).”

Grenfell drew parallels with his 2018/19 Australian Greyhound of the Year Orson Allen, which took four attempts to break through at G1 level before claiming the Perth Cup and Harrison-Dawson.

Tiggerlong Tonk was underdone heading into the Australian Cup Carnival but ran a close third in the G1 Temlee at his first ‘500’ since December 24.

He then started $2.50 favourite from box three in last Saturday’s opening heat and led all-the-way, holding out Mepunga Felix to record his seventh win from 16 starts over The Meadows 525m course, equalling his personal best.

“A couple of weeks ago I was questioning myself about where he was at,” Grenfell offered.

“He deserves a Group 1 next to his name for the dog he is. He went straight into a Group 1 after about 15 starts and he’s been there ever since.”

“After the Match Race at Warragul (January 16) kennel cough got him real bad. I gave him 10 days off and trialled him and he went shocking so I gave him another 10 days off.

“Then he went a length off the track record at Geelong over 400m (22.12sec), which told me he’s back to his absolute best.

“His preparation over the last five weeks is two 400m trials into the Temlee, where he ran third, and then another ‘500’ last week.

“Last week he got home in 12.12s but I expect him to be breaking 12 and that gets him down to 29.60sec, which I’d say would pull him up.

“When he gets to the front, I’m normally not worried about getting run down but when the ‘red’ (Mepunga Felix) was chasing him last week I thought he’ll have to dig deep here, which he did.

“I called his owner after the race and said this dog has never tried that hard. He was completely buggered.

“After the Melbourne Cup final, I said he’d probably keep going until the Australian Cup but the way he’s trialling and racing, he’s still giving it everything.”

WATCH: Tiggerlong Tonk (3) wins his way into his ninth Group 1 final with a blistering 29.74sec Australian Cup heat win.

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Gerard Guthrie
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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