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Thompson’s TAB Melbourne Cup ‘fire’

Champion trainer Jason Thompson’s TAB Melbourne Cup ‘fire’ is still burning – 27 years after he first won the world’s greatest greyhound race.

Thompson was a 25-year-old when he won the sport’s ‘Holy Grail’ with Light Of Fire in 1994. A year earlier, he had finished fourth with Head Honcho – his first finalist in the event.

The Pearcedale-based master of the ‘lead and collar’ also won the Melbourne Cup with Got A Moment (2012) and Black Magic Opal (2013). His wife, Seona, won the prestigious race with Aston Dee Bee (2017) and finished second with Black Opium in 2018.

Thompson shares the Melbourne Cup-winning training record with Graeme Bate and Darren McDonald.

Amazingly, from the past 28 Melbourne Cups, Thompson has prepared 19 finalists – including Hotshow Vintage (2001 – 3rd); See You Later (2005 – 3rd); Hanify’s Impact (2008 – 2nd); Nitro Burst (2008 – 3rd); and Hooked On Scotch (2019 – 3rd).

WATCH: Rising star Rebellious (6) defies G1 winner Fernando Cazz (3) over 500m at Bendigo on November 5.

Thompson, now 52, still vividly recalls Light Of Fire’s 1994 victory.

“I was 25; it was a special win… But I was probably a bit too young to realise just how big a race it is.

“As you get older, you realise how hard it is to win and appreciate its significance, tradition and sheer longevity.

“I’ve always said it’s the one race you always want to compete in – it’s a good time of year. Every trainer would love to win a Melbourne Cup.”

Roll on nearly three decades and that proverbial Melbourne Cup ‘fire in the belly’ remains with Thompson.

He will attempt to ‘set the night on fire’, if you’ll excuse the pun, with five heat aspirants on Friday.

Here’s what Thompson thinks of their chances:

Heat 1 (Race 5 Box 1 – 8.19pm) – TAB Odds: $4.40  

“We’ve had a few hiccups with her over the last couple of months… She’s drawn well and needed the run last week and was probably a good thing beaten… Koblenz will be hard to beat, but she’s all quality.”

Heat 3 (Race 7 Box 8 – 9.01pm) – TAB Odds: $4.40 

“The ‘pink’ is not a good draw at Sandown… He’d never been there, so I thought his run last week was excellent – we treated it as a trial… He tired a little bit; it was his first 500m run for around three months… With the benefit of the run, if he reproduces that effort, he’ll be very hard to beat.”

Heat 6 (Race 10 Box 2 – 10.01pm) – TAB Odds: $4.60 

“He should get a clear run… If he can lead, he’ll be thereabouts… But he’ll need a bit of luck.”

Heat 7 (Race 11 Box 7 – 10.22pm) – TAB Odds: $4.80

“I thought she was massive last week… This is another very good test for her and she’s more than capable… I’ve got a lot of confidence in her, although she hasn’t been at this level before.”

Heat 8 (Race 12 Box 8 – 10.42pm) – TAB Odds: $3.00

“He’s a quality dog who enjoys being out wide… But it’s a very strong heat and he’ll have to do everything right.”

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About Peter Quilty - Has more than three decades of experience as assistant editor of Victorian Greyhound Weekly. He was editor of GRV monthly magazine The Adviser (2001-09) and owner/publisher of Australian Greyhound Monthly. He also served on the selection panel for the inaugural GRV ‘Hall of Fame’ inductees and for several years was an adjudicator on the Victorian GOTY. He’s also published greyhound racing yearbooks and wrote the ‘Bold Trease’ video script.
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