“Evergreen warrior” Fernando Mick turned back the clock – joining exalted company – courtesy of his brilliant victory in the $458,500 Group 1 Sportsbet Australian Cup (525m) at The Meadows on Saturday night.
The ageless star, which turned four on February 5 and was the oldest runner in the final, notched his second G1 success in exhilarating frontrunning fashion.
Prepared by champion Lara trainer David Geall, Fernando Mick became only the fourth greyhound to complete the Australian Cup-Hobart Thousand double. He joined an illustrious list comprising Rookie Rebel, Benjamin John and Tommy Shelby.
Perhaps even more impressively, Fernando Mick – runner-up in last year’s G1 Melbourne Cup to Yachi Bale – put his name up on a pedestal with nine superstars of the sport that have finished second in a Melbourne Cup and first in an Australian Cup – Take a Bow (1962), Fawn Nulla (1966/1967), Benjamin John (1969), Half Your Luck (1973), Royal Rumpus (1981/1982), Eaglehawk Star (1984/1985), Tenthill Doll (1995/1996), Dyna Lachlan (2009/2010) and Lala Kiwi (2021/2022). NB. Ironically, Lala Kiwi finished second to the Geall-trained Koblenz in the 2021 Melbourne Cup. He also won the 2018 Melbourne Cup with My Redeemer.
Occupying the awkward ‘green’ trap (Box 6), Fernando Mick flew out and quickly put the $300,000 winner’s cheque beyond doubt. Only one other greyhound, Fernando’s Riot (2020) has won from box six in the past 20 years.
Fernando Mick ($6.40) notched his 35th win from 101 starts defeating Baby Jaycee ($7.90) by 3.4 lengths with SA prodigy Victa Damian ($4.20) a further 1 length away third in 29.85sec. It was his 10th win from 26 starts over 525m at The Meadows and the first prize catapulted his stakes to a massive $851,776.
It was Geall’s first Australian Cup triumph, having finished finished fourth with Miss Splendamiro and sixth with My Redeemer in 2019.
Race caller James Van de Maat was pretty ecstatic after Fernando Mick crossed the line: “The old boy, the gift that keeps on giving,” he exclaimed.
But his elation was incomparable to Geall post-race: “What have I done to deserve this? Box six, we knew he had to come out running, and he did!
“I’m pretty dumbfounded. To win an Australian Cup, I’m over the moon.
“When I was a young fella, I remember going to the greyhounds at Olympic Park and watching the Australian Cup so tonight has capped off a big few years for our team.
“Three ‘grand slams’, I’m just choked for words. This is just stratosphere stuff!
“This little guy, he’s just a marvel.
“Fernando Mick is just a beautiful dog, and full credit to him because he loves to chase and he loves to run despite the fact he has had over 100 starts.”
Even on-track interviewer Jason Adams was searching for superlatives, simply saying “it’d be very doubtful a greyhound has won an Australian Cup after more than 100 starts”.
Fernando Mick is a son of stud supremo Fernando Bale, which has sired five of the past six Australian Cup winners.