Untapped has taken Dustin Drew on the ride of his greyhound racing life, highlighted by an unforgettable Group 1 breakthrough in the 2022 Sandown Cup, Australia’s most prestigious staying event.
But there’s little doubt victory in Saturday night’s inaugural $9220 Ray Drew Memorial (650m) at Warrnambool, named in honour of Dustin’s father Ray, who passed away in October 2021, would be even more special.
There’ll barely be a dry eye in the house if Untapped can claim her first victory since her all-the-way Sandown Cup triumph on May 19, albeit she’s only raced 11 times in that period including three G1 appearances.
But the bold front-runner will need more than sentiment if she’s to prevail in a Group 1 quality field, headlined by arch-rival Jarick Bale.
“It would be great if I could win it, but I’m just thrilled the race has got the calibre of dogs it has,” said Dustin, who’s based at Dennington.
“It’s good for the club to put the race on to start with, and it’s great for the people at Warrnambool to get to see Jarick Bale, Untapped and Aston Velvet going at it!
“Those three dogs have won over a million dollars between them. It’s a super race. It’s a super night of racing too, not just Dad’s race.”
Last start G1 Sale Cup winner Jarick Bale (box 1) is the major hurdle to Drew and Untapped (box 3) combining for what would be an emotion-charged victory in the Memorial – race 6 at 7.34pm on a five star conclusion to Warrnambool GRC’s annual Seaside Festival.
Drew also has great respect for G1 Hume Cup winner Aston Velvet (box 5).
“It would obviously be a great thrill to win the race, but put it this way, whoever wins the race, I’ll be happy for them,” Drew said.
“Untapped’s last few runs have been a little bit disappointing, but she’s only been racing against the best.
“I don’t think she’s going quite as good as she was – that’s my honest opinion – she just hasn’t had the same dash since she was injured up in Queensland and missed three months.
“Untapped and Jarick Bale have had a great rivalry over the last 12 months. He’s been a super dog and credit to Mark and Lisa (Delbridge) for keeping him racing at the top level for so long. It’s the same story with Michelle (Mallia) and Aston Velvet.”
The passing of Ray, a life member of Warrnambool GRC and like his son, a Group 1-winning trainer, during the height of the pandemic was especially difficult for the Drew family.
Saturday’s race meeting will provide an overdue opportunity to celebrate a wonderful greyhound racing life.
“Dad passed away during COVID and we were in lockdown, so we could only have 20 people at his funeral,” Dustin explained.
WATCH: UNTAPPED (B7) defeated JARICK BALE (B8) and ASTON VELVET (B5) to win the G1 Sandown Cup, with the three staying stars to renew their rivalry in Saturday’s inaugural Ray Drew Memorial.
“Even while he was in hospital, he could only have one visitor at a time. It was pretty tough, but we weren’t the only family going through those circumstances.
“It was hard to catch up with family at the time, but we’ve got family coming down on Saturday, which will be really good for everyone.”
While Ray was a fantastic mentor for Dustin and daughter Aimee, who’s also a trainer, fatefully – and fortunately – son didn’t always heed father’s advice.
“At her first 390m at Warrnambool, Untapped ran 23.57sec and I remember Dad saying ‘Get rid of her. She’s no good!’” Dustin recalled.
“She was beaten 28 lengths at her first three starts, but then she won her fourth start by ten lengths, and I said to Dad, ‘Lucky we kept her!’
“We’ve always been very patient with our dogs, but for some reason Dad just thought Untapped was hopeless!”
Dustin won’t mind at all if Untapped proves Ray wrong once again on Saturday night.