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Britton celebrates ‘First’ feature

The Britton family’s recent domination of the Group 3 Top Cat Video Cup (730m) continued at The Meadows on Saturday night, as First Picked, the ‘baby’ of the field, handed young Lara trainer Tim Britton his first Group success.

First Picked, which doesn’t turn two until October 28, was bred, and is owned by Tim’s father Robert, who trained three of the five previous Top Cat winners in superstar duo Fanta Bale (2017) and Tornado Tears (2018 and 2020).

A daughter of Benali and Erelda Bale, First Picked is bred to stay, with her sire’s mother, Born Ali, winner of the G1 Galaxy (715m) in 2014, while her dam is a litter sister to champion Fanta Bale, a six-time G1 winner over ‘700’.

“First Picked is a genuine stayer, so she was always going to be strong at the finish.”

First Picked (Box 2) was the outsider of 32-year-old Tim Britton’s two finalists in the $25,000 to-the-winner Cup at $13.50, with another superbly bred prospect, Play Nice (Box 8), a younger brother to the great Tornado Tears, $8.50.

Defending champion, four-time G1 winner Gypsy Wyong (Box 4) was $3.50 favourite.

Alfie Moon ($4.70) led from Box 1, while First Picked also took advantage of her inside alley to settle fourth, before unleashing a powerful finishing burst to claim Alfie Moon in the final bounds, scoring by one length in 42.74sec.

WATCH: Staying novice FIRST PICKED (2) stormed home to win the G3 Top Cat Video Cup Final (730m) at The Meadows on Saturday, emulating her ‘aunty’ Fanta Bale, which won the event in 2017.

“I thought if one of them was going to get up it would have been Play Nice, although I would have preferred him to draw closer to the rails,” Tim Britton said.

“But First Picked is a genuine stayer, so she was always going to be strong at the finish. It was just a matter of getting in the right spot and she was able to.

“It’s taken me a little while to win a Group race, so it’s good to finally get one.

“I’d run second in the (G1) Sapphire with Carry On Star, Carry On Angel ran third in the (G1) Harrison-Dawson, and King Of Calypso was third in the (G2) Launceston Cup and fourth in the Harrison-Dawson.”

The Cup was First Picked’s fourth win from 16 starts, and her first victory over ‘700’ in six attempts, although she’d been placed in all previous five, including a heat third to Gypsy Wyong.

Britton explained it was a case of ‘necessity being the mother of invention’ with First Picked being tested as a stayer so early in her career.

“She didn’t have the pace for the sprint races,” he said candidly.

“It’s quite a good litter – and we think that eventually they will all stay – but we probably thought the least of her, to be honest.

“She’s a real character of a dog and she’s a mad chaser, but her ability was the question.

“Her mother, Erelda Bale, is a full sister to Fanta Bale, but her first few litters were a bit disappointing.

“We decided to try Benali, who was a good versatile dog, even though nobody had really used him. We’ve had lots of phone calls about Benali after what this litter has done, but unfortunately, he died recently.

“We’ve been very impressed with what First Picked’s brother, Quick Smart, has done (5 wins from 11 starts – 29.25sec at Sandown Park). He’s a fast dog and we’ll probably look at stepping him up to 600m soon and see how he goes.”

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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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