Matt Lanigan and Tom Keeping are looking to follow a family feature race tradition in Sunday night’s Group 3 Murray Bridge Cup Final (455m).
Two-time G1 winner Lanigan and partner Emily Azzopardi have already made their presence felt in South Australian feature events with Tom Keeping’s litter.
In 2022, Monique Keeping and Angus Keeping ran the quinella in the Champion Puppy Final, while Melissa Keeping finished third in the G3 SA Oaks.
Once regarded as the ‘poor relation’ of the Fernando Bale x Caitlyn Keeping siblings, Tom Keeping is very much in commission at $4.50 in Sportsbet’s market on Sunday’s $26,000 to-the-winner Murray Bridge Cup – race 8, 8.37pm.
“Out of the four we had from the litter, he was the fourth best,” was Lanigan’s succinct assessment.
“But he’s come on in leaps and bounds. If we’re lucky enough to win on Sunday, it would be hard to argue he’s not the pick of the litter.
“From not being able to break 23 seconds over 400m at Geelong, to being a chance in a Group race, we’re stoked.
“He can be a bit timid at times, but Heath Sutton, who works for us on weekends and after school, is brilliant with the dogs and he’s done a great job of getting Tom Keeping to come out of his shell.
“Heath usually handles Tom Keeping but he had a footy camp last weekend, so I handled him in the heats and I think it was the first time he’s won for me!”
WATCH: TOM KEEPING (B8) will fly the Victorian flag in Sunday night’s Group 3 Murray Bridge Cup Final (455m) after a commanding 25.53sec heat victory.
After running second at his Murray Bridge debut, Tom Keeping improved sharply to win his Cup heat in dominant fashion, scoring by 6.5 lengths in 25.53sec, the third quickest of the six run-offs, his eighth win from 33 starts.
Drawn in box four for the Cup Final, Tom Keeping occupies the third line of betting, behind fastest qualifier (25.42sec) Fantastic Dixie (box 3) at $3.30 and ex-Victorian Ravers Army (box 1) $3.40.
“He’s no superstar but he’s a great little chaser,” Lanigan said.
“I don’t think he’s up to the country cups in Victoria, but this is a nice race for him.
“Box four is never ideal, but all he needs is a clear run and he’s a chance. But we’re just rapt to make the final.
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“Obviously, I don’t mind travelling!
“It takes about seven and a half hours to get to Murray Bridge. I had three dogs in mind for the Cup, but Tom Keeping was the only dog I ended up putting in the heats and he made the trip worthwhile.
“Murray Bridge is a great track and the people there are sensational. If it was a bit closer, I’d race there all the time.
“The President at Murray Bridge is Neville Loechel, who owned Weblec Eagle, which I won the Sale Cup (2019) with, so it would be extra special to win on Sunday.”
Lanigan and Tom Keeping are chasing back-to-back Victorian victories in the Murray Bridge Cup, with Angela Langton successful last year with Weblec Ranger, also part-owned by Neville Loechel.