Horsham Cup line-up will hinge on Aussie Cup results

\"\"Caption: Bobby The Brute with trainer Brendan Purcell (Photo: BlueStream Pictures)

By Andrew Thomson 

Upsets in the Australian Cup will play a crucial role in the make-up of heats of the Horsham Cup.

Horsham club manager Justin Brilliant said the heats of the Horsham Cup heats would be held on  February 26  with the final on the long weekend of March 6.

The final of the Group One Australian Cup week is being held on February 27.

Brilliant said while Australian Cup heat upsets could boost the standard of his cup heats that local contenders  included the well credialled Braemar Prince, who won three times at Horsham and twice at Warrnambool, clocking a slick 21.78 over the short distance at the seaside city.

New Horsham 410m record holder Benchester is also likely to be in the heats of the Horsham Cup.

Brilliant said the Horsham Cup was also a chance for second tier greyhounds to get a tilt at cup glory with the elite sprinters off to The Meadows.

\”We also fall between the Australian Cup and the Easter Egg so some greyhounds might use the Horsham Cup as a launching pad to the Easter Egg,\” he said.

\”Our track has a great reputation due to the long straights and it\’s an ideal hit out before those big races.\”

The Horsham Cup will also be the first leg of the newly established Western Carnival which features the Horsham, Ballarat, Warrnambool and Geelong cups.

One contender unlikely to front up is the impressive Brendan Purcell-trained Bobby The Brute.

The former NSW chaser has now had 41 starts, for 11 wins and 14 placings, collections almost $90,000 in prizemoney

He impressed with a second in the heats of the Geelong up behind group one performer Shima Shine, before running past the same dog and gun sprinter Tiggerlong Tonk to finish runner-up in the final behind elite chaser Simon Told Helen.

Bobby The Brute (KC And All-She\’s Scandalous), then ran 29.30 winning at Sandown before taking out a heat of the Sale Cup and finishing third behind exciting talent Houdini Boy in the final.

That was followed up by back-to-back wins over 600 metres at The Meadows in a heat and final, clocking 34.20 and 34.23.

Purcell said the blue brindle dog was not overly blessed with early pace and a mad railer, but had an excellent motor.

\”He goes good, but he did a hock down low in the win at the Meadows  and looks like he\’ll be out for six to seven weeks,\” he said.

\”He was all right after the race but when he jumped out at home I thought he must have stood on a rock as he was a bit funny behind.

\”I put him out in the bigger yard the next morning and knew he wasn\’t right, took him to the vet and he said either ligament or bone and it\’s been confirmed it\’s bone.\”

The trainer said he had been aiming towards trying his kennel star over 700 metres after good wins over 600.

\”He was running it out good, but you just never know if they can go over 700,\” he said.

\”Now we\’ll have to wait and see. I just hope he comes back all right. Significant injuries like that can be hard to overcome.

\”It\’s a case of waiting and seeing.\”

Purcell also trains the Noel Mugavin-owned Sweet As Emm (18 wins, $133,000 in prizemoney) and said the distance specialist had a heap of trouble overcoming injuries.

\”It can be a case of headache after headache if you get a good one and they get injured,\” he said.

Purcell said he had 29 greyhounds in work at his Lara property.

\”I\’ve had a good run the last couple of years,\” he said, revealing he previously worked as a kennel foreman for veteran trainer Robbie Britton.

Purcell was previously involved in Victorian harness racing as a driver/trainer before moving to Tasmania.

\”I made a living out of the harness racing but not as good as the dogs,\” he said.

\”I just got sick of horses and one of my owners lived in Tassie. He wanted to get into something (business partnership) and we came up with a car wash at Bridgewater near Hobart.

\”But, I was pretty bored at the car wash. I would go down there, clean up and be finished by 7.30am.

\”I knew (trainer) Jason Sharp, rang him and said I wouldn\’t  mind having a go with a dog.

\”The first one won its first start and we were away.

\”I was sitting around with Mick Stringer, who was having lunch with Robbie Britton, who was down with a dog in the heats of the Hobart 1000, and got an offer to go and help out Robbie.

\”I got my licence after working with Robbie and have been going by myself for two and a half to three years.\”

Purcell said the best greyhounds he had been associated with included Sweet As Emm, Rippin\’ Sam ($357,000 in prizemoney) and Slingshot Gypsy ($125,000).

He said he still got greyhounds through his association with Britton, but he had also developed his own owner base.

The 48-year-old trainer said he trained his greyhounds in pairs in 300 metre straight yards using a motorbike.

\”They are competitive against each other. They usually take off together over the 300m and may go 90 per cent. They will then come halfway back and some go back again.

\”They may do 900 metres but it\’s nowhere near flat out, but my dogs are pretty fit.

\”I like the idea of integral training but you can\’t do it like horses. I tried parachutes and jackets and all sorts of stuff, but you can\’t control the work of greyhounds.

\”Some work really hard, it all depends on the dogs. We\’ll give Eagles Nest Egg a good hit out before heading to Sydney and then back off the last two days.

\”I always give them the day off after a run and Sunday off.\”

Purcell said having a good base level of fitness was a great start for greyhounds, and he liked chasers who could perform over 500m.

\”We do work them hard, but I find they don\’t get as many injuries and they are strong when they go to the races,\” he said.

\”We initially travelled all around Victoria but I\’m trying to target city races where the prizemoney is better. Some dogs can\’t run 500m and they don\’t suit us. Some dogs are not suited to my training methods.

\”But, I\’ve found we are finishing in front by targeting city races with greyhounds that can run the 500 metres. You do have to work the grading system.

\”Overall we\’ve had a good year. Moneywise we finish in front and then your group dogs are the cream on the top,\” he said.

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