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‘Dream’ match-up in Origin coursing

A major highlight of this weekend’s ‘Super Sunday’ of coursing at Benalla will be the clash between Dream Wizard and Making Gravy in the inaugural Aussie Infrared State of Origin series.

The sensational coursing meeting will also feature the Victorian Derby and Oaks, as well as the Benalla Cup, and while uncertainty caused by COVID restrictions unfortunately impacted on the State of Origin series, that fierce interstate rivalry will still be evident.

The opening State of Origin course will pit multiple Group race finalist Dream Wizard, trained by NCA Victoria co-secretaries Sean and Mel Lithgow, against last weekend’s Werribee Cup winner Making Gravy.

While Making Gravy is trained by Adele Powell at Stanhope, last year’s Waterloo Cup winner is owned and bred by Vicki Prest from Young in NSW.

Dream Wizard, which has been in superb form around the circle in 2021, qualifying for the finals of the Warrnambool and Warragul Cups at G2 level, will be backing up after contesting Friday night’s $120K Pink Diamond Champion Sprinter final at Bendigo, finishing sixth to Shima Shine.

“It was a bit of a disappointment we didn’t get the nominations we’d hoped for from NSW because of the uncertainty about restrictions and quarantine, but we’ve still got a cracking card of coursing,” Sean Lithgow said.

“In the State of Origin series, we’ve got Run Baba Run and Scatterbox, as well as Dream Wizard, which are all Group class.

“Dream Wizard is yet to be beaten at coursing; he’s won the Victorian Derby, Longwood Cup and Karen Leek Memorial. But he’ll need to be on his game against Making Gravy.

“Moving forward, we might look at making it more of an Australia-wide challenge. South Australia has coursing every second week.”

WATCH: Aussie Infrared shows his straight track prowess defeating a hot heat of the Healesville Cup in 2017.

Leading NSW trainer Michael Eberand, who bred and part-owns star sprinter/sire/courser Aussie Infrared, was keen to throw his support behind the State of Origin concept, hoping to promote coursing in NSW.

On the racetrack, Aussie Infrared was a multiple Group finalist, winning the G2 Maitland Cup, and he’s now one of Australia’s leading sires, producing the likes of Catch The Thief, Playlist and Ebby Infrared.

Eberand is a big believer in coursing, identifying Aussie Infrared’s win in the 2016 Victorian Coursing Derby as the catalyst for his success.

“I’m always happy to support lure coursing whenever we can because coursing made Aussie Infrared the champion race dog that he was,” Eberand said.

“With Aussie Infrared, I sent him down to Victoria to Geoff (Collins) and Roz (Hume) for the Launching Pad, but he got sick.

“Geoff and Roz said they really liked him and wanted to keep him there. They took him coursing at Longwood in the Victorian Derby, without any expectations, but much to their surprise he won.

“I think coursing matured him. After that he put it all together and never looked back” – MICHAEL EBERAND ON AUSSIE INFRARED

“I think coursing really matured him. After that he put it all together and never looked back.”

On top of the prizemoney, Sunday’s State of Origin victor will receive an Aussie Infrared straw, with the in-demand stud dog’s service fee now valued at $2750.

“Aussie Infrared has about 30 litters racing,” Eberand explained.

“He had 18 services his first year and then 15 the second year. With due respect, the quality of the females early on wasn’t great but then Ebby Infrared and Catch The Thief came along and he had 43 services last year and he’s already had between 35 and 40 this year.

“So, if you extrapolate the results, he’s had so far with the increased number of services, we’re excited about what the future holds.”

Champion trainer, and studmaster, Anthony Azzopardi is also supporting ‘Super Sunday’. He has kindly donated a Raw Ability straw, valued at $1800, to the winning connections of the Benalla Cup.

Now a proven sire, Raw Ability (Mar ’15 Barcia Bale x Bugatti Flyer) raced on 46 occasions for 22 wins, three seconds and five thirds.

Trained by Azzopardi, and owned by his partner Kylee Osborne, Raw Ability won the 2017 G1 Adelaide Cup and 2018 G1 Paws Of Thunder and was a finalist in another four G1 events.

“Coursing plays a major role in the greyhound industry,” Azzopardi said. “It’s an integral part of the sport’s heritage and history – it’s Australian greyhound racing culture and we’ve got to acknowledge that.”

Azzopardi added he was proud to support the sport in any shape or form – particularly its origins.

“It’s a great industry and it’s been good to me; I just want to put something back into the game. It gives me great satisfaction to assist my fellow breeders, owners and trainers.”

Pawnote: Azzopardi had two of Raw Ability’s progeny – litter brothers Diamond Ability and Untapped Ability – in $20,000 to-the-winner Maiden events during last night’s inaugural ‘Pink Diamond’ extravaganza at Bendigo, with the former winning the Short Course Final.

Here’s a snapshot of the major prizemoney for Benalla’s ‘Super Sunday’ coursing program:

Victorian Derby
Winner – $3675 plus $1000 VicGreys Bonus
Runner Up – $1275

Victorian Oaks
Winner – $3675 plus $1000 VicGreys Bonus
Runner Up – $1275

State of Origin
Winner – $1750 (plus Aussie Infrared straw)
Runner Up – $520 (+$200 BP Gift Card)

Benalla Cup
Winner – $1100 (plus Raw Ability straw)
Runner Up – $300

WATCH: Making Gravy defeats circle track superstar Bound To Succeed at Benalla last week.

The content on this page was accurate at the time of publishing. If you notice any inaccurate content on this page or anywhere on the website, please report it here

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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