By Mike Hill
RACING Queensland has given owners and trainers a \’second\’ Listed Bundaberg Cup for 2020.
The series, carrying Group 3 level prizemoney, kicks off with heats on September 28 and the $37,500 final, over 550m, will be run on October 5.
The year\’s first edition was run in April under COVID-19 restrictions with reduced prizemoney.
\”We are still only having one Bundaberg Cup per financial year,\” said Greyhound racing manager Doug Lutherborrow.
\”The April Cup was in 2019-20 financial year and October\’s feature is in the new financial year.\”
Lutherborrow said RQ had been looking for a Monday public holiday to help boost the Bundaberg club and raise the status of the its Cup.
\”The Queen\’s Birthday public holiday on Monday, October 5, looked the obvious choice,\” he said.
\”It appeared the ideal slot that would give the club the best chance for a good Cup crowd.\”
A good crowd was something the club didn\’t have at its April Cup meeting due to the COVID-19 shutdown.
At the time, Queensland had been divided into racing regions, with trainers restricted to their zone.
Only those based in the Wide Bay region were able to race at Bundaberg and all meetings at the time were patron-free.
RQ has since resumed \’open racing\’ across the state, although social distancing and other COVID-19 precautions are being maintained.
Lutherborrow said the April and May racing calendar had also become a bit overcrowded with feature races.
He said RQ had restructured the racing program to give Bundaberg some ideal lead-up races heading into the Cup.
\”Following the Bundaberg Sprint (late last month), there\’s the Derby and Oaks over 550m (heats September 7, finals September 14) and the Cup Prelude (September 21),\” Lutherborrow said.
He expected some big Brisbane kennels to target the $25,000-to-the-winner Cup series.
\”Although the Cup is a Listed event, we hope to have it elevated to Group 3 status in coming years,\” he said.
Visiting trainers expected to target the carnival include Peter O\’Reilly, Brett Hazelgrove, Brent Kline, Justin Bowe, Travis Elson, Jamie Hosking, Matthew Evans, Gerald Bowe, Dallas Beckett, Darren Taylor and Trevor Wilson.
O\’Reilly will be hoping his outstanding sprinter Shakey Diesel can complete a country feature double after winning the Rockhampton Cup in mid-June.
The black sprinter, holder of the Bundaberg 460m record (25.94s), has been in superb form since his Rocky success, racing against some of the best sprinters in the land.
He\’s been placed in best-eight company at Albion Park in recent starts and was a finalist in the Group 1 Brisbane Cup (520m) in early July.
Meanwhile, Torbanlea-based trainer Ricky Hassall said he\’d love to have his talented sprinter Elegant Eleanor in the Cup.
Elegant Eleanor went into the April edition of the Bundy Cup a raging favourite but tragically she dropped a back muscle early in her heat.
She has just returned to the track and although she won first-up over 460m at Bundaberg last month and followed it up a week later with another victory, Hassall said he wouldn\’t be pushing her.
\”She a week-to-week proposition,\” he said. \”I\’d love to have her in the Cup. If it happens, it happens.\”
Elegant Eleanor brilliantly won the Country Cup (520m) at Albion Park in late January.
Pictured: Peter O’Reilly with his champion Shakey Diesel, who may be targeting the October 5 edition of the Bundaberg Cup (Photo: Box 1 Photography)