• Wednesday, 22 Feb, 2023,
  • by Gerard Guthrie

Worth his weight in gold!

Group 1 Sportsbet Australian Cup surprise packet Captain Larry is a perfect example of the wonders of weight loss.

Shedding unwanted kilograms has been the key to the giant-slayer’s remarkable transformation from Mount Gambier ‘also ran’ to live chance in one of greyhound racing’s most prestigious events.

Since transferring from South Australia, where 11 of his 12 wins came at Murray Bridge and Mount Gambier, to history-making Lara trainer Brendan Pursell, Captain Larry has been a revelation.

“It’s very hard to match up the Mount Gambier form!”

“It’s very hard to match up the Mount Gambier form!” quipped Pursell, the first Victorian trainer to win the Million Dollar Chase.

“When he first came over, I thought he might have been able to win a Grade 5 at both city tracks, but to be honest I wasn’t expecting anything like this.”

Pursell credits a dramatic drop in weight – from 35.3kg at his last appearance in SA to 31.9kg at his Victorian debut – for the March ’20 son of 2010 Melbourne Cup winner El Grand Senor’s meteoric rise.

“I just worked him and fed him like we do with all the dogs, but when I put him on the scales the day before he was going to have his first run for me at Geelong, he was down 3.9 kilos!” Pursell said.

“I thought that can’t be right! You just don’t hear of it. I had to scratch him and give him a stewards’ trial.

“If a dog gets sick and loses four kilos, they usually look like a skeleton, but he looked okay. He didn’t look like a Labrador when he arrived either. It’s just weird.”

WATCH: SA import CAPTAIN LARRY (B4) upstaged superstar WOW SHE’S FAST (B7) and REVOLUTION (B1) to win his G1 Australian Cup heat in 29.88sec, his fourth win from his last five starts.

Pursell then almost lost the slimmed down version of Captain Larry when the kennel newcomer suffered a mystery illness that had vets stumped.

“In his first couple of runs in Victoria, he didn’t jump and only went average, and then he led and went 29.80sec at The Meadows,” Pursell said.

“But then he got sick and nearly died.

“I went out to the kennels and his neck, mouth and tongue had blown up like a balloon and blood was everywhere. I rushed him to the 24-hour vet and they didn’t think he was going to make it.

“They did a heap of tests and couldn’t work out what it was. But he came good, and eight or nine days later I was working him again. He won his next start at Sandown (29.39sec – Australia Day) and hasn’t looked back.”

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After staging a miraculous recovery, Captain Larry has gone from strength to strength, winning four of his past five, three of those victories coming at The Meadows.

The Cinderella story continued to unfold with a stunning upset in last weekend’s Australian Cup heats, where Captain Larry ($10.50) eliminated superstar Wow She’s Fast ($2.30F) in a strong-finishing 29.88sec performance.

“I didn’t give him a realistic chance,” Pursell said.

“Although, I did say to myself driving to the track, that if Wow She’s Fast begins a bit tardy, which she can do, and he got up outside Revolution he’d be stronger than him, and that’s exactly how it worked out.”

After earning an unlikely – based on his SA form – shot at G1 glory, Captain Larry drew the coveted rails alley for Saturday night’s $300,000 to-the-winner Cup Final.

From being a $151 longshot prior to the heats, he’s tumbled into $6 in Sportsbet’s wide open market.

“I’m rapt with the draw. That’s where you want to be,” said Pursell.

“He’ll have to have his roller skates on early, because there’s a lot of speed in the race. But in saying that, he doesn’t have to lead to win.

“He’ll be pretty strong to the line and if he’s able to camp behind the leader, he’s a live chance.

“The Melbourne Cup and Australian Cup are the two biggest races, I reckon. I’ve never had a runner in the Australian Cup, and I’d be pretty stoked to win it.”

Pursell is eyeing a feature double on Australian Cup night, with unbeaten youngster Tan And Black (box 3), a son of 2018 Melbourne Cup winner My Redeemer, a serious player in the G3 Vic Bred Maiden Final (525m) after 30.05sec and 30.30sec heat and semi-final victories.

“He just lacks a bit of pace early; if he had a bit more, he’d be a real good pup,” Pursell said.

“But you can’t do any more than win. He led in his heat and won by ‘eight’ and then came from behind in his semi-final. If he gets a clear run, he’ll be hard to beat.”

Gerard GuthrieGerard Guthrie

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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