Caption: Ebby Jet Power (2) claims the 2021 Maitland Cup (Photo: Steve Whalland Race Images)
By GARY CLARK
GROUP racing returns to the one-turn speed track at Maitland later this month when the 2022 placement on the honour roll awaits another class sprinter.
Since the inception of the Maitland Cup back in 2003 – when it was a grass circuit and run as a Group 3 with $12,000 to the winner – the race has produced a long list of top-line chasers who spent most of their careers at that level.
The first winner was Thread Prince who was trained by Ron Brown and raced only 22 times for 13 wins, but travelled throughout New South Wales.
After winning his first four starts, Thread Prince won at Singleton, Temora, Bulli, Tweed Heads, Goulburn, Wauchope, Gosford, Maitland and Mudgee.
The following year the cup was not run as the track surface was being transformed to loam and the 2005 cup saw a new era with the distance now over 450m and the progression in Group status and prizemoney.
This year the winner of the Group 2 event will receive $40,000, a big lift from 19 years ago.
In 2005 it was success for Barry Gibbons when Whatuira Banner recorded 25.46, a race record that would last for only two years.
The ‘Banner’ name has been recognised in racing for three decades and Whatuira Banner won 16 races from 48 starts at Wentworth Park, four at Bulli and three at Wyong and finished third in the 2005 Tweed Heads Galaxy G3 final.
The following year, it was another famous prefix in racing that won, Needa Mint (Super Mint- Tenthill Doll). The ‘Mint’ name, raced by Ray Watson, has produced so many top-class sprinters.
This superbly bred chaser ran 25.62 to take the cup and had a short career of just 18 starts for nine wins including Group 3 victories at Singleton and Wenty.
In 2007 the Group 2 Peter Mosman Classic winner and Geelong Cup finalist, Run The Risk, set a record for the race, running 25.09.
The Pauline Moran chaser opened his career in blazing fashion winning 12 of his first 13 starts going on to eventually win one more in his 24-start career.
The 2008 cup was a triumph for young trainer Steve Konkolics who had an amazing year with his sprinter, Awesome Hustler.
After this dog won the 2007 Goulburn Cup, he returned in 2008 to win that race again in a year that he also won the Maitland Cup.
He held the Goulburn track record over 457m and also was placed in the G3 Bulli Gold Cup and Shepparton Cup. He qualified for 10 Group finals. His trainer, Steve, he bowed out of the sport a few years later.
The group chasers continued to dominate the Maitland Cup when in 2009, Magnifique trained by Julie Fletcher, ran 25.14. Winning 27 races in a 60-start career, Magnifique was placed in the 2009 Bulli Gold Cup and was a finalist in the G2 Bob Payne at Wenty.
Magnifique tried in vain to repeat the Maitland Cup success the following year but failed.
The race went to prolific winner Elite Blue Size, trained by Reg Kay, who won 33 races from 54 starts, and he ran 24.93 which at the time became a race record.
In 2010 he won the G2 Gosford Cup and G1 National Derby and ran third in the G2 Tweed Heads Galaxy.
These results won him the 2010 NSW Greyhound Of The Year.
Elite Blue Size achieved what many find hard to do and that is returning 12 months later to win the Maitland Cup again. He is the only dog to have his name on the honour roll twice.
Widely travelled Oaks Road, for Mark Gatt, was victorious in 2012 in 25.16 and also went to Perth that year to win the cup.
A long list of wins can be seen on the CV of the 2013 winner, Black Magic Opal, who set a race record in 24.92 and had a marvellous overall record of 35 wins from 48 starts.
He also won the G2 Geelong Cup, G1 Melbourne Cup and the G3 Warrnambool Cup and ran second in the G1 Hobart Thousand.
The class acts just kept coming as with the 2014 winner, Paw Licking, who contested 14 Group finals and was placed in five G2s.
His wins included the G2 Bendigo Cup, G2 Shepparton Cup and the G3 Traralgon Cup and G1 Hobart Thousand the previous year.
The winner in 2015 was Spacecraft, who won five at Wenty, but only contested one Group race in his career and that was his victory in the Maitland Cup.
The strong team of Pamela and Paul Braddon collected the Cup with Marbo’s Magic in 25.04. He won 50 per cent of his race starts and travelled to Victoria making the finals of the Shepparton Cup and Warrnambool Classic.
One of Australia’s new sires at the moment, Aussie Infrared took out the 2017 Cup in 25.02. He did his early racing in NSW before going to Victoria in May 2015.
With just 37 starts he won 22 races including nine straight in 2017 before being retired in October of that year. He made the finals of the Geelong and Healesville Cups.
Then in 2018 Aston Duke set a race record for the Maitland Cup with 24.88. He had a long list of feature race finals that he qualified for, all in this year.
It started with the Richmond Derby then the G2 Warrnambool Classic, Bendigo Cup, a Group 1 finalist at The Meadows before returning in 2019, but failed to win successive Maitland Cups, running 5th.
A near race record in 2019 was recorded by Black Forge, who ran 24.90 and also had several major race placings.
Finishing third in the Easter Egg, Black Forge also ran second in the G2 Bendigo Cup, third in the Bulli Cup behind Pindari Express, finalist in the G3 Warragul Cup, second in the Richmond Derby before winning the Maitland Cup.
In 2020, Mottza who won 37 races, took out the Cup and raced around the country in NSW, Victoria, QLD and Perth.
He finished second and third in two Group races at Mandurah, was a finalist in the Bendigo Cup and ran fourth in a G1 at WP.
Finally last year, Ebby Jet Power ran a race record at 24.87. Trained by Michael Eberand, he defeated More Sauce who beat him in their heat. He raced in five Group finals.
We often forget the top chasers from years gone by. They remain in the record books and little is sometimes said about those who have given us much pleasure. This has been a look at the entire honour roll of the Maitland Cup, refreshing your memory and bringing back the achievements of not only the greyhounds, but also many of our top trainers, some who have moved on from our sport.