Reigning champion Untapped could write a fairy tale final chapter to a remarkable rags to riches racing story on Friday night by claiming historic back-to-back victories in the $270,500 Group 1 Sportsbet Sandown Cup (715m).
“Her career is coming to an end and there’s every chance this will be her last race,” said trainer Dustin Drew.
“There’s the lure of the Pink Diamond and the Brisbane Carnival – especially for the trainer! – but they can’t race forever, so we’ll sit down after Friday night and decide what’s best for the dog.”
Untapped (box one) is $4 second elect with Sportsbet to become the sixth stayer to claim consecutive victories in Australia’s most prestigious staying event.
Trained at Dennington, Untapped hails from the same region as legendary four-time Sandown Cup hero Bold Trease (1986/87/88/89) – ‘The Warrnambool Warrior’.
The other successive Cup winners are Paul’s Thunder (1970/71), Lizrene (1972/73), Irma Bale (2012/13) and Sweet It Is (2014/15).
“It’s a privilege to make the race again,” said Drew.
“It’s such a prestigious race with a lot of history, especially where I come from.
“I’m not going to compare her to Bold Trease – that would be disrespectful – but Norm (McCullagh) has been a great help to me.
“Anytime I’ve needed advice with Untapped, he’s been the first person I’ve turned to. If Norm doesn’t know how to train a stayer, nobody does!”
WATCH: “What a win!” UNTAPPED (B7) led all-the-way to win the 2022 Group 1 Sandown Cup (715m) and will be striving to go back-to-back in Australia’s most prestigious staying event on Friday night.
Untapped was only having her fifth start in 2023 in last Thursday’s heats, where there were shades of last year’s Cup triumph as she made a ‘bold’ – pun intended – bid to lead all-the-way from box seven, before being claimed late by fastest qualifier First Picked, beaten half a length in 41.74sec.
“That was her first ‘700’ since November,” Drew said.
“Two weeks before the Sandown Cup heats, she ran 29.38sec in a trial at Sandown, so I knew she was going good.
“Her splits last week weren’t far off what she ran last year, and it was only the last 10m that found her out. She’s pulled up super too.”
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While Untapped has excelled from wide draws, nine of her 15 career wins coming from boxes six, seven and eight, Drew is optimistic the daughter of Aston Dee Bee and Mepunga Fame can take advantage of box one.
“I’ve always preferred her drawn off the track, but you never knock back box one in a big race,” he offered.
“I’d rather see her coming across other dogs than working underneath them. But I think she can go straight to the front.
“Group 1 races are hard to make and they’re harder to win.
“Moraine Suzie is proven at Group 1 level. She’s a 41.30sec dog at Sandown and is a real danger. Cawbourne Magic is a great dog and John and Minnie Finn are super trainers and I’m sure Zipping Orlando is going to improve.”
If Untapped does bow out in a blaze of glory, it would complete an incredible journey for the graduate of the 2019 National Greyhound Draft and her 39-year-old trainer, which had the humblest of beginnings as she was beaten out of sight at her first three starts.
“It’s been a lot of hard work – I think it’s aged me – but I wouldn’t change anything,” said Drew.
“To start off, she made the (G1) Bold Trease Final (2021) and then came back twelve months later and made it again. Then she made the (G1) Sale Cup Final (2021) and made it again the next year too, and now she’s made her second Sandown Cup Final.
“It’s more the story surrounding her. With dogs like Wow She’s Fast and Aston Rupee, they were superstars from day one. But she wasn’t – she was hopeless!
“I’m not saying she’s a superstar, but she’s a very good dog, and if you go back to her first three runs, she got beaten 30 lengths! So I’m really proud of what she’s been able to achieve.”
Drew might become even prouder just after 9.28pm on Friday.