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Orlando ‘blooms’ in Cup surprise

Group 1 TAB Australian Cup surprise packet Orlando may have been named after a movie star, but nobody – aside from his trainer Lee Moore – expected the unheralded sprinter to play a leading role in last Saturday’s Cup heats.

Orlando was a $28 outsider but defied his price in a dominant 29.86sec performance to give 56-year-old Moore his first G1 finalist and an unlikely shot at greyhound racing immortality.

“I’m one-out in the crowd, against the usual faces – the Daillys, Jason Thompson,” Moore said on Sunday afternoon.

“I’m not normally an over-the-top sort of bloke but we were pretty excited about making an Australian Cup final!

“I’m not normally an over-the-top sort of bloke but we were pretty excited about making an Australian Cup final!”

“I’ve spent more time on the phone over the last 12 hours that I have in the last six months! You don’t realise how many people are happy to see you do well, which is really nice.

“I’ve never been in a Group 1 final. I won a Melbourne Cup prelude a few years ago with a dog called Yanong and he ran in the Cup heats but that was as far as he went.”

Based at Bagshot, near Bendigo, Moore also owns and bred Orlando and has 300,000 reasons – all of them dollars – to get caught up in the hype.

Moore has only three greyhounds in work – Australian Cup upstart Orlando and littermates Studley (12 wins from 40 starts) and Tingle (2 from 12) – and combines his training duties with driving a wheelchair taxi two days a week.

WATCH: $28 roughie ORLANDO (4) produced the biggest upset in last Saturday night’s Group 1 TAB Australian Cup heats, leading all-the-way in 29.86sec.

He also bred and owns Orlando, having ‘borrowed’ 2016 G1 Sale Cup finalist Dewana Dimie off Brendan Dewan for the fateful mating with Fabregas.

Moore’s dream of a fairy tale triumph on one of the sport’s greatest stages remained very much alive after Sunday morning’s box draw, where Orlando was allocated Box 1.

Despite drawing perfectly, Orlando remains a $21 outsider with TAB.

However, his record at The Meadows (5 wins from 10 starts) and from Box 1 (3 from 5) is enough for Moore to remain optimistic he can repeat his giant-killing heat heroics.

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“I was really surprised he wasn’t given any chance in his heat,” said Moore.

“He wasn’t far off Qwara Bale the week before and we didn’t have the hardest heat. It wasn’t an easy heat but I didn’t want to be up against Lala Kiwi and Aston Rupee, so we got a bit lucky there.

“Box 1 is a bonus, as long as you jump.

“He does race good at The Meadows – he started off there and has never really raced poorly there – and if he begins, I think he can hunt up and be somewhere near them.”

Saturday will be Orlando’s second appearance on Australian Cup night.

2022 TAB AUSTRALIAN CUP FINAL (525m)
Saturday 26 February – First prize $300,000

1 ORLANDO (Lee Moore, Bagshot VIC)
2 DAPH’S ASCEND (Andrea Dailly, Anakie VIC)
3 ZIPPY TESLA (Andrea Dailly, Anakie VIC)
4 LALA KIWI (Andrea Dailly, Anakie VIC)
5 IMMUNITY (Jason Thompson, Pearcedale VIC)
6 PADDY WANTS PATS (Kelly Bravo, Freshwater Creek VIC)
7 GYPSY BUN (Andrea Dailly, Anakie VIC)
8 TITAN BLAZER (Daniel Gibbons, Avalon VIC)
Reserves
9 ASTON RUPEE (Glenn Rounds, Devon Meadows VIC)
10 RICCARTON RICK (Robert Redenbach, Cranbourne VIC)

HEAT WINNERS
(Fastest to slowest)

  • 29.61sec Lala Kiwi
  • 29.74sec Immunity
  • 29.75sec Zippy Tesla
  • 29.80sec Daph’s Ascend
  • 29.83sec Gypsy Bun
  • 29.86sec Orlando
  • 29.87sec Paddy Wants Pats
  • 29.92sec Titan Blazer

He started favourite in the G3 Vic Bred Maiden final last year, when unplaced, but has returned from a lengthy stint on the sidelines due to liver problems, winning six from 10 since resuming, to find himself within touching distance of a much bigger prize.

“Life is about to get a lot harder for him!’’ Moore quipped.

“Early on he looked like being pretty good. He drew ‘the pink’ in the Maiden final on Australian Cup night last year but got knocked over. He came back the next week and ran 29.80sec.

“After that he won a couple in a row at Horsham but then his form went off a bit. I got a blood test done and his liver was no good. It took a long time to get him right and he missed four or five months.

“I don’t think he’s at his absolute top and he might never get there. But if he can get two or three months with nothing going wrong, it’ll be interesting to see where he can get to. Hopefully the wheels don’t fall off.”

Lee Moore celebrates Orlando’s Australian Cup heat victory with (l to r) mum Gladys, partner Michelle and son Alby.

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

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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