• Tuesday, 01 Feb, 2022,
  • by Gerard Guthrie

Geall hits Launceston Cup heights

David Geall fulfilled his long-held ambition of winning a Tasmanian ‘major’ when odds-on favourite Hill Top Jack was a dominant winner of the Group 2 Launceston Cup final (515m) on Monday night.

Geall has campaigned regularly in the Apple Isle, most recently with country cups king Ferdinand Boy, a ‘cousin’ to Hill Top Jack, running a close third in the G1 Hobart Thousand and second in the G3 Devonport Chase late in 2021.

Watch the Launceston Cup replay HERE

“We’ve had a few goes down there,” Geall quipped.

Winfrey Lass ran fourth in the Launceston Cup (2008) and Emerald Rainbow, My Redeemer’s brother, ran fifth in the Devonport Cup (2019).

“There was a touching side to winning the Launceston Cup, because Winfrey Lass was owned by our daughter Chelsea, her husband Steve Matheson and Steve’s best mate, the late Jon King, who passed away about 18 months ago.

“Jon was a great family friend and often used to drop into our property to visit. He took Winfrey Lass as a pet after she retired. We’ve named a dog from Up Hill Jill’s Barcia Bale litter, Hill Top Jonnie, after him.

“Monday night reminded me of the night Winfrey Lass was in the final and they all flew over for the race but their flight was cancelled and they ended up getting to the track about three minutes before the race.

“I remember walking to the boxes, looking for them and thinking they were going to miss the race. Unfortunately, Winfrey Lass didn’t win but last night brought back a great little memory.”

Hill Top Jack, a regally bred Fernando Bale x Up Hill Jill litter brother to Geall’s Melbourne Cup hero Koblenz, started $1.80 favourite from Box 2 in the $40,000 to-the-winner Launceston Cup after a scorching 29.34sec heat victory.

Hill Top Jack won the G2 Launceston Cup final in a flying 29.45sec on Monday night.

Fellow Victorian King Of Calypso, also trained at Lara, by Tim Britton, was the $2.70 second elect from Box 1, chasing an eighth straight victory.

Hill Top Jack utilised his inside draw to hold the lead going into the first turn and dictated terms from there, downing local roughie Loch And Loaded ($71) by 3.5 lengths, with King Of Calypso third in another fast run of 29.45sec.

“He trialled really well before the heats – 29.60sec – and then he went better than we expected in his heat,” Geall said.

“He was well drawn to run a great race in the final. When he draws inside the dog knows what he has to do – stay on the fence and drive hard.

“I’ve got to give credit to Sue Gittus, who handled Hill Top Jack, and her husband Nathan for looking after him, as well as their right-hand ‘girl’ Caroline.”

“We had Koblenz x-rayed on Monday and it hasn’t healed as well as we’d hoped, so that’s the end of the Australian Cup.”

It was Hill Top Jack’s 18th win at start 49 and third time lucky in a Group final after running fourth in the G1 Maturity and seventh in the G3 Cranbourne Classic.

“He’s not as good as his brother (Koblenz) but he has a very good strike rate and it gave us a great thrill because it’s another G2 winner for Up Hill Jill,” said Geall.

“Hill Top Jack is probably only two lengths slower than Koblenz but because he’s two lengths slower in the first split, it makes it difficult against the best sprinters.”

Hill Top Jack is now heading towards the G1 Australian Cup; but a disappointed Geall revealed he won’t be joined by superstar sibling Koblenz, which is currently sidelined with a cracked metatarsal.

“We had Koblenz x-rayed on Monday and it hasn’t healed as well as we’d hoped, so that’s the end of the Australian Cup,” said Geall.

“We might concentrate on the Golden Easter Egg now and in the meantime we’re in the process of getting his DNA done and registering him for stud, because there’s been really keen interest from breeders.

Michelle Nolan contacted me about using him with Hightan, the mother of Idolize and Chic, which ran the quinella in the (G1) Futurity up in Sydney, and it was really disappointing he wasn’t ready in time.”

Melbourne Cup hero Koblenz has lost his race against the clock to return for the Australian Cup.

Gerard GuthrieGerard Guthrie

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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