• Thursday, 06 Apr, 2023,
  • by Gerard Guthrie

Russell lets ‘Rip’ at Cup dream

Russell Edwards isn’t one to die wondering.

That ‘have a go’ attitude has landed the Langwarrin trainer with an unlikely shot at Group 1 glory in Saturday night’s Association Cup Final (720m) at Wentworth Park in Sydney.

Edwards is chasing a $75,000 winner’s purse with his first Group finalist, homegrown stayer Riptide Ruslie (box 4), also bred and raced by the 57-year-old, who only started training six years ago.

Riptide Ruslie, a son of My Redeemer and Vis Vitae that celebrated his third birthday on Monday, might be a $34 outsider with Sportsbet, but that hasn’t dimmed Russell’s ’enthusiasm.

“I don’t really care where he finishes; I already feel like a winner.”

“It’s a real thrill,” he said.

“I don’t really care where he finishes; I already feel like a winner!

“It’s very much a surprise, but I couldn’t be happier!”

Riptide Ruslie looked anything but a future Group 1 contender as he took 22 starts to break his maiden.

But Edwards always had belief in Riptide Ruslie, particularly as a distance prospect, throwing the novice in the deep end in the G1 Sale Cup heats last December just weeks after claiming his first victory.

Three successive middle distance wins – highlighted by a ‘family’ Sandown 595m quinella with litter and kennel mate Bruce’s Ruslie – saw Edwards take another leap of faith in last Saturday night’s Association Cup heats.

WATCH: G1 Association Cup finalist RIPTIDE RUSLIE (B4) was a “ripping” all-the-way 595m winner at Sandown Park on March 9, defeating litter and kennel mate BRUCE’S RUSLIE (B2) in 33.98sec.

He was richly rewarded as Riptide Ruslie ($15) ran second to 41.90sec winner Bandit Jane, finishing nine lengths ahead of third-placed favourite Zipping Kansas.

“I’d love to say he can win on Saturday, but his start last week really worried me,” Edwards said.

“But we’ve done some work with him this week and if he can learn from last week, I’m hoping, hoping that he’ll get the start right. If he does, he’ll be right in it.

“He loves box four for some reason too. He’s had three wins and two seconds from ‘the four’ since he’s stepped up in distance.

“I always thought he was going to be a stayer. Early on, he only had one speed, but now he’s using his gears.

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“I thought about going over to Perth for the Galaxy, but he’s a very quirky dog and I don’t think he’d handle being with anyone else, so it would’ve been a three-week trip.”

Since retiring after a 40-year career with Woolworths six months ago, Edwards’ decision to focus on his ‘Ruslie’ greyhounds – a combination of Russell’s and partner Julie Allen’s names – is paying off.

“I’ve always been involved in ownership on and off and I actually started training when I had one of my dogs given back to me,” he explained.

“Her name was Tarree’s Ruslie and I took her to the vet, Chris Boemo, to get her ready to go into GAP, but Chris said she had more wins in her. I said I wasn’t a trainer, but Chris told me to have a crack. I’ve never been afraid of having a go, so I got my ticket.

“Lo and behold, the first start she had for me at Healesville, she won!”

Edwards says Bruce’s Ruslie, which makes his 715m debut at Sandown Park tonight (race 4, 7.55pm), is quicker than Riptide Ruslie but has been “very unlucky”, adding there’s great sentiment behind his name.

“He’s named after a really close friend of mine that got prostate cancer and passed away last January,” Russell explained.

“Bruce absolutely loved the dogs and used to come along with me before he got sick.

“The last time we spoke was over the phone. Bruce couldn’t talk but he could understand, and I told him I was going to name a dog after him. His wife Catherine said he shed a tear when he heard that.”

Edwards has generously decided to donate half the prizemoney Bruce’s Ruslie earns to Prostate Cancer Research.

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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