By GARY CLARK
The Group 2 Gosford Cup (515m) has the unique honour of closing the group racing book for 2020, then opening the same for 2021.
The popular event starts with heats on Sunday, December 27, with the final a week later on January 3.
Sponsored by long term supporters of the club, Woy Woy Poultry, the race has developed over the years with a prestigious honour roll.
The former grass track was transformed to a loam surface back in 2003 when the cup was a Group 3 and worth $10,000 to the winner. It only took three years for the race to become a Group 2 and $40,000 first prize, which has continued for the last 17 years.
Male dogs have dominated the race over the past two decades with Thai Flame winning the first cup on the current surface for Julie Fletcher.
Thai Flame won 15 races in a 36-start career and her trainers Julie and Bruce, have now retired from the sport after illustrious careers.
It didn’t take long for the top-class sprinters to get their name on the honour roll when in 2004, Addis Boy took out the cup for Doreen Drynan. He later qualified for the Australian Cup final while Drynan attempted, unsuccessfully, to win the race with Buddy Rich in 2006.
As the race grew in stature so did the quality and Cool Mat won the first Group 2 conducted in 2006 before Prey For Mercy for trainer Cary Grant (not the actor!) scored in 2007.
Then came a run of interstate invaders when in 2008 Suave Fella for former Victorian trainer, Eric Castle took the cup. Castle moved to NSW before heading to Qld in later years and Suave Fella was the winner of 24 races from 77 starts.
One of the best-bred cup winners was Miss Elly Mint in 2009, who was trained by Ray Smith and owned by Ray Watson – who was known for the ‘Mint’ bloodlines.
Miss Elly Mint established an amazing record of 44 wins from 66 starts. Her grandmother was the brilliant Franklin Mint.
Two years later in 2012, Prince Diablo for John Finn collected his second Group race after winning the Canberra Cup the previous year.
Prince Diablo defeated Wez Da Risk, who was partly raced by Ron Arnold and sometimes it is not about the winners but the heart ace of defeat.
“I still remember that race ten years on, it is probably my greatest disappointment and frustration that night,” Ron recalled.
Then in 2015 a bitch named Ritza Hattie, who had started her career with the Group 3 Nowra Puppy Classic in 2013 before being runner-up in the 2014 Ladies Bracelet and also making the final of the Group 1 National Futurity.
But her spotlight came eight months later when she took out the Gosford Cup.
A year later in 2016, Knight Sprite put his opposition away to take out the cup for Gail Masterson. But that was not the end for all concerned as Gail had the dog primed a year later and made the 2017 final with Knight Sprite only to finish second.
In 2017 a dog called Barking Bad for Michael Eberand had two outstanding years on the track, winning the cup then going on to win The Collerson, running second in the Group 2 Bulli Gold Cup and third in the Richmond Derby the same year.
Once again the winner tried to attempt consecutive cups, but failed in 2018.
Then in 2018 the dog that just kept keeping on, Cosmic Bonus, performed for Evelyn Harris, a former Central Coast trainer who moved to the Northern Rivers and has enjoyed tremendous success since.
Cosmic Bonus recently retired after 149 starts for 72 wins and 43 placings and $408,000 in prizemoney started that year with victory in the cup.
He made the final of the Casino Cup in 2017 and 2018 and the master’s Meteor at W.P. in 2019.
If all this was not enough then two years ago in 2019, a trainer who had spent time in Dubai training for the sheiks, returned to Sydney and won the first Million Dollar Chase at W.P. in 2018.
It was Peter Lagogiane, who off the back of that life changing moment, two months later, took an unfashionable named dog to the Gosford cup in Beast Unleashed.
The dog broke the track record in his heat, 28.90 and then returned to a powerful final win in 29.15.
Beast Unleashed only raced 15 times for 10 wins but collected a Group victory.
It was also a special year for race caller, John ‘Macca’ McDermott, who had been calling Gosford greyhounds for the past half century and it is extremely unlikely that anyone will ever call as many Gosford cups as John.
Macca passed away last month and left behind so many famous race calls especially on the Central Coast.
And this year the race was won by Kid Candle for Geoffrey Grimwood after the dog had previously run third in the Group 1 Vic Peters Classic several months earlier.
So now we wait to see what may unfold in 2021 and see who will be the next greyhound to become part of this history-making race.