By Gary Clark
THE Group Two Bulli Gold Cup is a race for high-speed chasers with V8 motors and the state’s fastest sprinters will turn it on again around the one-turn circuit in the 2021 edition in February.
There have been some memorable results over the past three decades and Pindari Express (2019-20) is the only greyhound in that time to have won consecutive Bulli Cups.
This machine could run anything on the clock and became the first dog to break 22 seconds over the 400m at Bulli, running 21.93, a record which still stands.
He opened his career winning his first six starts in amazing times of 22.18 at Bulli on debut and 24.59 at Maitland for the 450m. The sport had a new star.
Owned and trained by first-timer Tracey Scruse, Pindari Express was placed carefully, only racing on 32 occasions for 18 wins.
His slow starts and exceptional run-home times made his performances unbelievable.
He won the 2019 Bulli Gold Cup in 26.07 then backed it up a year later with his 26.16s victory. He also made the final of the 2019 Million Dollar Chase. He now stands at stud.
As we work back in time, the 2018 winner Ritza Lenny had three attempts at the Bulli Gold Cup, the first in 2016 when running sixth and then in 2017 he was first reserve.
The following year he made it into the final and ran a blistering 25.95 to give trainer Mark Gatt his second Bulli Cup victory after he won with Gradence in 2014.
Ritza Lenny won 30 races from 67 starts and earned $233,000 in prizemoney. His potential was known early on after running 26.02 at Bulli at just his third race start.
Gradence also won the 2014 Gosford Cup after being tried as a stayer and was able to win one at Wentworth Park over the 720m.
The 2017 winner Flacon’s Fury was a prolific Group finalist and had several Cup wins for Paul and Pamela Braddon.
The 2016 Bulli Cup winner was the Ruth Matic-trained Black Bear Lee, the winner of 21 races including the Group Three Magic Maiden at Wentworth Park.
The last Victorian to win the Bulli Cup was Brett Bravo’s Kayda Shae who clocked 26.07 in 2015 when the race was elevated to Group Two status. Kayda Shae’s success at the top level included the 2015 Shootout at Sandown and he amassed $198,000 in prizemoney.
The 2012 race was won by Prince Diablo, a dog who collected a number of cup victories. He won the 2011 Canberra Cup and the 2012 Gosford Cup before his Bulli Cup success.
The Wheeler name has also been synonymous with the Bulli Gold Cup with Brendan Wheeler winning two – Greta Bale won by six lengths in 2011 with Bartrim Bale winning in 2008.
A superbly-bred dog, Bartrim Bale (Collision x Gold Rush Bale) only had 12 starts, winning the Cup at his 11th start.
The 2010 race was won by Goodesy, a sprinter with a near-perfect career record and times that were sizzling. Goodesy won 16 of 27 starts, winning his first eight at Bulli, Appin, Richmond and Wentworth Park.
The 2009 winner Proven Diego also had a limited career on the track with just 10 starts and won the Cup at his seventh outing.
The 2007 winner Commandant, who was trained by Steve Gyftos, was also a finalist in the 2006 Canberra and Maitland Cups.
And there were still some big names to come with Whisky Assassin in 2005 adding the Bulli Cup to his immaculate career. The Awesome Assassin x Princess Whisky chaser was raced by Troy Provost, who bred the bloodline, and was trained by Jason Thompson after the dog went to Victoria in 2004.
He had 44 starts for 22 wins, which also included the 2004 Geelong Cup, Shepparton Cup, Ballarat Cup, Shootout and Topgun.
Another lady trainer to have success was Christine Oldfield with Spring Secret in 2004. Spring Secret was also placed in the 2003 Melbourne Cup.
A few ‘blast from the past’ trainers are also on the Bulli Gold Cup winners list going back two decades or more, including, Ray Minty who won the 2003 Cup with Flash Peter. The dog was also Group placed at Wentworth Park.
As we go back to the previous century, Belinda Reid won the 1999 race with Bob’s One and the 1998 race went to Tommie Streaker.
Trained by Dave Irwin, Tommie Streaker produced some brilliant victories, winning 30 races from 58 starts. He was a finalist in the 1998 Gold Coast Cup which he won a year later.
As already mentioned, Awesome Assassin, the sire of Whisky Assassin, also had his time on the Bulli dais, winning the race in 1997, one of his 32 victories.
In 1996 Ultimate Wish, for the now-retired trainers Bruce and Julie Fletcher, won the first year of the Bulli Gold Plate.
The dog was by New Tears out of Fletcher’s brood bitch Lauren’s Desire and had just 14 starts for 11 wins.
Ultimate Wish won seven of eight up the straight at Appin and won the Bulli Cup in 1996 when it was for the Best 8 greyhounds.
He broke down in a heat of the 1996 Tweed Heads Galaxy and was retired to stud.
Well, that is a real walk down memory lane. And judging by the likes of Wow, Unison, Ad Astra, Poppy Jack, Xerri and Incapacitated – just to name a few of our fastest dogs in Sydney at present – the Bulli Cup will again be a race well worth watching in 2021.