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  • Tuesday, 20 Dec, 2022,
  • by Peter Quilty

‘Guy’ and ‘Lady’ chase Group 1 glory!

There’s a distinct ‘local flavour’ to the $120,335 Group 1 TRFM Sale Cup final (650m) on Boxing Day.

And a ‘Guy’ and a ‘Lady’ are at the forefront of the $75,000 to-the-winner event – the only G1 provincial cup on the Victorian greyhound racing calendar.

Gippsland husband-and-wife team Robert and Wendy Neocleous will launch a two-pronged challenge with littermates Great Guy (Box 6) and Lady Lily Hook (Box 4) – (Apr ’20 My Redeemer x Ruby’s Image).

Based at Hazelwood North, the ‘hometown heroes’ will also be striving to claim their second Sale Cup in five years – having scored with dual G1 winner Neo Cleo (trained by Wendy) in 2018. (Wendy also trained her litter brother, Blackjack Neo, which finished sixth.)

And talk about keeping it ‘all in the family’. Ruby’s Image, dam of Great Guy and Lady Lily Hook (both trained by Robert), is a litter sister of Neo Cleo. All were bred by Wendy.

“He likes a dog out in front of him; he likes to run them down.”

Great Guy, a winner of 10 races from 24 starts, was the fastest qualifier last Sunday. He clocked a smart 37.05sec defeating last year’s Sale Cup third placegetter, Untapped (Box 8), which will contest successive Sale Cups. Great Guy was also a G3 Sir John Dillon Memorial finalist.

Lady Lily Hook then accounted for last year’s Sale Cup winner, Jarick Bale, in 37.23sec. It was her ninth win from 24 starts. Lady Lily Hook also finished third in the G3 Great Chase.

Jarick Bale (Box 7) will now attempt back-to-back victories in the event for the all-conquering “Team Delbridge”. His kennelmate, Yachi Bale (Box 5) – winner of last month’s $650,000 to-the-winner G1 Melbourne Cup – also reached the final following an amazing last-to-first 37.08sec heat success.)

In an open affair, with seven runners $10 or under, Dookie Devil (Box 2) – a flashy 37.07sec heat winner – is the $4 favourite. Great Guy and Lady Lily Hook are $5.50 and $31 respectively.

“It would be a big thrill to win another Sale Cup,” Robert Neocleous said. “It would be fantastic to do it, particularly as it’s a local feature race.”

“They’ve both drawn awkwardly, but I’d like Great Guy to be within two to three lengths of the leaders going around the first corner without being touched.

“He likes a dog out in front of him; he likes to run them down. After this campaign, I’ll step him up over 700 metres.”

Neocleous added Great Guy was his best chance if he obtained a clear run early as “he’ll be coming home strong”.

“And I won’t mind if Lady Lily Hook leads. I’m hoping she’ll improve as it was her first attempt at the 650-metre trip.

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“Box four is where she wants to be, as she tracks a couple of dogs off the fence.”

Sadly, the Neocleous’ lost Ruby’s Image around six months after her pups were born.

“We’d be over the moon if we took out a second Sale Cup, as it would leave a touching legacy to their mother. The whole litter is special to Wendy and I and the ‘Ruby Ha Ha’ line just keeps throwing on.”

Adding to this year’s Sale Cup ‘native feel’ are the owners of Great Guy and Lady Lily Hook – Edward Wertiechowski and Charlie Galea.

“Eddie’s a mechanic at Warragul Toyota and has never had a Group 1 finalist,” Neocleous said.

“In fact, he’s had dogs on and off for more than 40 years and hadn’t even won a city race until Great Guy.

“And Charlie has been a friend of mine for 30 years or so. He lives down the road and we work in together with the dogs.”

Pawnote: Nicky Neo – dam of another Sale Cup finalist, Dookie Devil – is also a litter sister of Neo Cleo.

WATCH: GREAT GUY (B3) lives up to his racing moniker as the fastest Sale Cup heats qualifier, defeating UNTAPPED (B6) by 1.5L in a slick 37.05sec.

Peter QuiltyPeter Quilty

Peter Quilty

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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