Exciting new era for Gawler Cup

\"\"Caption: Jackson Murray (Troy’s son), Troy Murray, Josh Thompson, Brett Thompson and Sarah Thompson with Major Major and Golden Night (right) after last year’s Gawler Gold Cup. (Photo: Kurt Donsberg)

By KURT DONSBERG

THE Group 3 Gawler Gold Cup has been run and won for over 40 years and the 2021 edition this month introduces a new and exciting concept that will take the race to the next level.

With the Gawler region regularly hosting racing from the three different codes – thoroughbred, harness and greyhounds – the three bodies got together to discuss a “racing carnival” to showcase what they, and the Gawler district, have to offer.

From that meeting was born the “Gawler Carnival of Cups”. The carnival is designed to celebrate the local racing industry over a 10-day period from the October 15 to 24.

The 10-day carnival will get underway with a Gala Dinner on the opening night, and includes a Breakfast with Stars, a Calcutta for the greyhounds and thoroughbreds, an after-race concert after the thoroughbred Cup on the Friday that is sure to be popular, and culminates on the final day with the running of the 2021 Gawler Gold Cup for the dogs.

Gawler Greyhound Racing Club manager Shawn Noack was thrilled to be part of the new initiative.

“It will be a great event for the whole of Gawler with the three codes coming together,” he said. “It’s actually been about 20 months since we started the discussions. We had hoped to introduce it last year but Co-vid delayed our plans.

“We’re very fortunate to have the TAB on board as our naming rights partner for the next three years – but we’re planning on this carnival being an annual event and going well past that.

“The Gawler Council are also very excited and think it could become one of the biggest events in the area. On Cup night we’re expecting close to 1000 people to attend the final night. It’s going to be massive.”

One person who hopes to play a big part on the final night of the carnival is Lewiston-based trainer Troy Murray.

Troy has been the most successful trainer in the Cup over the past decade winning it three times. In 2011 he won with Kalden Mayhem, he won again in 2015 with It’s Classified and last year he was victorious with the very handy Major Major.

Troy rated each of the three wins very differently.

“Kalden Mayhem  was the most memorable win. I ran first and third that year. Kalden was a great dog; his winning strike rate was nearly 50 per cent,” he said.

“It’s Classified’s win was definitely the most pressure. He’d broken the track record earlier that year running 30.23 and was fastest in the heats going 30.39, so there was some expectation he’d do well. He didn’t jump in the final and was nearly last early. He railed really well and I don’t think he went around a single dog.

“Major Major last year was the most deserving. He’d had a pretty heavy campaign. He won the Derby (Group 3) at Angle Park and then backed it up with a win in a heat of the Adelaide Cup. He was unlucky in the final so to win the Gawler Cup was a good reward.”

And he’s looking to make it back-to-back titles this year.

“As long as Major stays sound, the plan is to go back to Gawler for the Cup this year,” said Troy. “He’s had some issues with his wrists, but we’re confident we’ve got him right. It’s just about managing him and not over-racing.”

The 2021 Gawler Gold Cup will be run on October 24.

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