By MIKE HILL
SEVERAL trainers are going into this month\’s Group 3 Rockhampton Cup (510m) with renewed confidence.
Under Queensland Racing\’s current regional lockdown, the annual Cup Carnival is restricted to Central Queensland-trained greyhounds.
\”It will be a zone-only Cup,\” said club president Nev Jackson. \”And my understanding is zone racing won\’t be lifted for some time.
\”I know some new dogs have arrived in the region recently, but whether they are Cup candidates only time will tell.\”
Jackson said he was hoping the club could receive enough nominations for at least three heats for this month\’s Cup series with heats on Friday, June 5, and the final on Friday night, June 12.
\”And I\’ll be over the moon if we can get four heats,\” he said. \”With zone racing in place, I\’m expecting a few more local trainers to nominate for the Cup.
\”Although our zone is not blessed with a large number of 510m dogs, I\’m certain the Cup will be a keenly tested series.
\”Our top dogs are quality performers and, without strong southern visitors this year, it should be an open race.
\”With a Cup Consolation, and if we\’re lucky enough to have four heats, 50 per cent of all runners will have a chance at good prizemoney.\”
Although RQ has reduced prizemoney in feature events state-wide due to COVID-19 restrictions, the Cup final still carries a healthy $27,250 with winning connections taking home $17,500 and the Consolation has $7875 on offer.
Sorting out a Cup favourite won\’t be easy and box positions will play a significant role in both the heats and final.
Early contenders include Craig Emery\’s smart bitch Waltzing Danube, Trent Thorley\’s Ellie Grace, the Dallas Beckett-trained Craig\’s Regret, while Darren Taylor has smart sprinter Rose Ali, a litter sister to Tony Apap\’s talented chaser Rasheda, a recent Albion Park winner.
In the past two months the quartet have dominated open 510m racing at Rocky with Ellie Grace winning twice, including success in the Diggers Memorial (30.34s) in April, Craig\’s Regret won the Anzac Cup (30.47s), Rose Ali scored twice in smart times (30.10s and 30.23s), while Waltzing Danube was an impressive winning in 30.29s last month.
And several trainers agree that box draws will be vital.
Emery admits Waltzing Danube is a \’mad railer\’ and will do almost anything to get to the fence, which unfortunately could be her downfall if she draws wide.
However, he is going into the series with confidence.
\”I\’m more than happy with the way Tilly (Waltzing Danube\’s kennel name) is going,\” he said last month. \”We had been aiming her at the Bundy Cup but with the zone lockdown we had to change plans.\”
Waltzing Danube ran fifth in last year\’s Rocky Cup behind Regal Recall, but she had been racing only a short time, Emery said.
\”That was only her 12th run in a race and she is a lot more mature and experienced now,\” he said.
Emery, a mining maintenance supervisor and son of the late Mick Emery, is based at Moura, 180kms south-west of Rockhampton.
\”I have to plan her racing around my roster,\” he said. \”She\’ll definitely be in the Cup even if my wife and father-in-law have to look after her on race day.
\”Although I\’d love her to draw close to the rails, I\’ll take it as it comes.
\”Tilly has a tendency to cross early if drawn wide, which can bring her unstuck, but she is getting better as she matures.\”
Taylor, who likes the chances of Rose Ali, will go into the Cup with a strong team.
Even if he is unable to get kennel star Are Jay Lochie (battling injury) to the starting boxes, he still has a top group of sprinters, including Precious Hope, Over Time and Tommy Lava, who he believes could be his \’knockout\’ runner.
\”Tommy Lava\’s my dark horse,\” Taylor said. \”I like him a lot. He could be the dog to bob up in the Cup.\”
The trainer\’s confidence was boosted by Tommy Lava\’s eye-catching fast-finishing third to Waltzing Danube over the Cup journey last month.
\”He\’s improving all the time,\” he said.
Club boss Jackson said his improving sprinter Dr. Braelyn was definitely heading towards the Cup particularly after his huge effort to win over the journey last month.
Dr. Braelyn missed the start by two lengths, but rounded the field grabbing leader Precious Hope right on the line.
Beckett, enjoying a strong winning run in recent months, is happy with Craig\’s Regret – a giveaway from Victoria.
At only 20 months old, the SH Avatar-Sweet Shine black sprinter is showing signs of developing into a promising chaser with four wins and three placings from just 10 starts.
He won over the Cup trip at his first attempt in April and then clocked 30.25s when a promising second to Rose Ali a week later.