All champions, in any sporting field, have had to start somewhere in life.
Most do the ‘hard yards’. The ones that don’t end up ‘coodabeen champions’.
Like it or not, you have to ‘earn your stripes’… And greyhounds are no different!
I recall superstar Aston Rupee, at his sixth start, winning a Country Championship heat (450m) by 7.6L in 25.06sec (Best) at Shepparton almost a year ago. Two starts earlier, he had finished third to Music Event in the Listed Western Districts Derby.
Aston Rupee went on to snare a $25,000 first prize in the Country Championship final, on 2021 Australian Cup night at The Meadows, in a scintillating 29.47sec – around 6.5L quicker than WA sensation Tommy Shelby, which clocked 29.86sec in the G1 Australian Cup final on the same night.
What’s more, his winning time was only 1.5L off the 525m track record of 29.38sec, set by Allen Deed on January 3, 2015.
As greyhound aficionados know, the rest is history. The Glenn Rounds-trained Aston Rupee is now a dual G1 winner (Topgun and Temlee), holds Sandown Park’s 515m track record (28.79sec) and has notched 22 wins from 39 starts.
But even all that doesn’t encapsulate the entire story of his brilliance! And his ‘biography’ seems far from completed.
WATCH: Aston Lamont (4) clocks a frontrunning 25.30sec win at Warrnambool on January 27.
“I don’t think either will be any Aston Rupee.”
So, as this year’s G3 Country Championship series kicks off tonight at Ballarat, will ‘lightning strike twice’ in the same place?
Champion Rowsley trainer Anthony Azzopardi has ascended the greyhound racing summit on several occasions, but even he concedes it would be like scaling ‘Mt Everest’ to match Aston Rupee’s ‘high altitude’ deeds.
Ironically, Aston Lamont (Mar ’20 Aston Dee Bee x Aston Geisha) is raced by leviathan SA owner-breeder Ray Borda who also races Aston Rupee.
Aston Lamont has made a great start to his career with five wins from only nine starts.
Meanwhile, Untapped Ability (Nov ’19 Raw Ability x Anastasia) – owned by Azzopardi’s partner Kylee Osborne – has notched five wins from 17 starts.
He was a Pink Diamond Maiden Sprinter (500m) finalist in June last year.
“I don’t think either will be any Aston Rupee,” Azzopardi quipped.
“Aston Lamont could turn out to be a nice dog, but he’s still learning. He’s been racing with blinkers as he ‘crashes’ to the rails from an outside draw.
“But I think they may be holding him back. It won’t be long before I take them off him.”
Untapped Ability is living up to his name, judging by Azzopardi’s assessment.
“He’s up to the class… He’s been trialling well but not racing well. He just hasn’t put it all together.”
So, what does Azzopardi think of Aston Rupee?
“He’s the fastest dog since Brett Lee… He breaks 29sec at Sandown like eating biscuits.
“He does it so easy… He’s got it all going for him.”
Azzopardi also inferred there’s some ‘tall poppy syndrome’ surrounding the ‘world’s fastest greyhound’.
“Some people say he can’t do this and that, but I bet you they wish they had him.”
Pawnote: The Country Championship series continues with heats at Warrnambool (Thursday), Warragul (Saturday) and Shepparton (Monday), with the $25,000 to-the-winner G3 final once again on G1 TAB Australian Cup night at The Meadows on Saturday, February 26.
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