• Wednesday, 19 Apr, 2023,
  • by Peter Quilty

Britton’s Geelong Cup ‘family ties’

The Britton family has been synonymous with the Geelong Cup for more than half a century!

Family patriarch, Allan, has won the race on four occasions – The Apprentice (1968), Pinetian (1969), Painted Wish (1995) and Bear Creek (2002).

He’s also finished runner-up with Singalong (1990), Carry On Coley (1993), Silent Assassin (1995) and Bear Creek (2003), and third with Wynlee Supreme (1990) and Applaud (1996).

In fact, Allan – who turns 89 next month and now resides in WA – quinellaed the event in 1995.

His eldest son, Robert, was part of a famous ‘Britton trifecta’ in 1990 when he trained the winner, Ravello. Robert has also finished second with Coulta Bomber (2007) and Farmor Las Vegas (2013).

Allan’s youngest son, Jeff, won the race in 2021 with Weblec Jet. He also finished sixth with older half-brother Weblec Ace.

“The family background in the race is very special… Hopefully I can carry on the tradition.”

Based at Anakie, Jeff has also reached the following Geelong Cup finals: 2005 Ricky Tim (7th), 2012 Jordy Pordy (4th), 2016 Alpha Hermes (8th) and 2018 Wise Ricciardo (3rd).

And on Friday night he’ll launch a two-pronged challenge with Mepunga Warrior and Mepunga Mustang in the $116,335 Group 2 Sportsbet Geelong Gold Cup final (520m) – Race 8, 9.27pm.

The closely related speedsters – owned by iconic Mepunga East breeder Barry Smith – will chase a $75,000 first prize.

Last week, Mepunga Warrior (Mar ’19 Fernando Bale x Mepunga Rosie) won his heat in 29.87sec while Mepunga Mustang (Jan ’20 Barcia Bale x Mepunga Molly) was victorious in 30.00sec.

Subsequently they are $4.20 and $9 respectively in a betting market headed by Kelsey Bale ($3.30), which was the second fastest qualifier in 29.86sec. The fastest of the seven heat winners was Adhana Rico in 29.75sec. He’s quoted at $4.80 for the final.

Obviously, Britton is hoping to emulate his father’s feat – 28 years ago – with Mepunga Warrior (Box 2) and Mepunga Mustang (Box 4).

“It (a quinella) would be the best possible result,” Britton quipped. “It’s a pretty big race… You always love to win your hometown cup.

“The family background in the race is very special and I’d like to keep it going as long as I can. Hopefully I can carry on the tradition.”

Britton finds it hard to separate his duo, saying “I give them both a great chance”.

“Hopefully ‘Warrior’ gets around the first corner without any trouble and makes his own luck after that. He’ll be running on, that’s for sure.

“And I couldn’t be happier with his draw. He’ll rail and I’m hoping he comes out of the first bend in a good position. He’s a great chaser.”

An 11-time Group race finalist including victory in the recent G3 Easter Gift, Mepunga Warrior – winner of 26 races from 95 starts – has won five from eight exiting the ‘check’ alley.

Britton is equally buoyant with five-time Group race finalist Mepunga Mustang – winner of 22 races from 62 starts, including last year’s Warrnambool Derby – considering he’s five from six jumping from the ‘blue’ trap.

“He likes the middle of the track. Hopefully he can come out quicker than those outside him.

“I think he’s a chance of being right on the pace as he’s been jumping well. ‘Mustang’ is also a good price, but ‘Warrior’ has been running quicker times than him lately.

“However, Kelsey Bale is the main danger. She’s flying and seems to be able to do that ‘freakish’ run.”

Trainers from the ‘Geelong region’ (within 30km) are chasing a fourth successive victory in the race. Seven of the eight finalists this year hail from either Anakie, Avalon, Lara, Lethbridge or Little River.

Based at Avalon, ‘Team Grenfell’ is chasing successive Geelong Gold Cups.

Correy Grenfell saluted with Yozo Bale ($5.10) last year and his wife, Samantha, has Nelvin Bale (Box 6) – a $41 outsider – engaged this year.

Yozo Bale finished second in 2021 and eighth in 2020. Correy has also finished runner-up with Orson Allen (2018) and third with Tiggerlong Tonk (2020). He finished sixth with Unathi Bale last year.

Pawnote: It was a ‘fabulous Friday’ for Jeff Britton and his partner, Angela Langton, who were in Perth for the inaugural staging of The Sandgroper – a $300,000 to-the-winner ‘slot’ event – at Cannington.

They paid $13,200 for a total of three shares in two dogs, including the winner Crumble Monelli, which raced for slot-holder Total Container Solutions.

“There were 10 shares in each group and both ‘slots’ cost $44,000 each,” Britton said.

 “We had a good time with friends and just about paid for the ‘family holiday’. We didn’t make a lot out of it, but we also caught up with my mum and dad.”

Peter QuiltyPeter Quilty

Peter Quilty

Peter Quilty has more than three decades of experience as assistant editor of Victorian Greyhound Weekly. He was editor of GRV monthly magazine The Adviser (2001-09) and owner/publisher of Australian Greyhound Monthly. He also served on the selection panel for the inaugural GRV ‘Hall of Fame’ inductees and for several years was an adjudicator on the Victorian GOTY. He’s also published greyhound racing yearbooks and wrote the ‘Bold Trease’ video script.

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