McClenaghans ruled at Launceston

Caption: The presentation after Fine Horizon’s win in the 1999 Launceston Cup.

 

2022 LADBROKES LAUNCESTON CUP

National Group 2 event | 515 metres

Heats: Monday January 24, 2022

Final: Monday January 31, 2022

 

By BRENNAN RYAN

FOR three consecutive years Pat and Helena McClenaghan made the Group 2 Launceston Cup their own thanks to a powerful home-grown bloodline.

The 2022 Ladbrokes Launceston Cup in January celebrates that memorable run of wins starting 23 years ago at White City when champion Fine Horizon won the 1999 final.

For many years both Pat and Helena bred and prepared many stars from their Westbury-based property.

Opal Crusher, Level Charm and Helena Level were just the beginning.

The now-late McClenaghan struck gold when he mated Helena’s Fine to champion stud dog Black Shiraz.

This produced Lady Shiraz, which won 12 races, other winners Blondie Shiraz, Classic Helena and Fine Helena, but more importantly two great superstars, Top Shiraz and Fine Horizon.

The white-and-black, champion, all-distance performer Fine Horizon had 35 wins from 66 starts, claiming $66,841 in prizemoney.

She won her debut start by eight lengths in Devonport 1998. Her first 12 starts netted eight wins and three seconds.

Starts 13 and 14 saw blistering low-grade wins at Hobart and White City, before Pat ambitiously set Fine Horizon for the 1999 Launceston Cup firstly winning her heat by 2 3/4 lengths from Kialdu Kobe.

A week later she moved to box eight for the final, with Stumpy Ray a raging hot favourite from box one at twos-on. Starting the 3-1 second pick, and still only 24 months old, she led virtually all the way.

She won by 3¼ lengths from Modern Edition, with Stumpy Ray a length back in third. Her best-of-night time of 31.05 was the icing on the cake for the young gun that was clearly racing out of her grade.

Fine Horizon and her brother Top Shiraz would dominate the Tasmanian scene for the next two seasons and reign supreme over the Launceston Cup series.

The pair would clash on numerous occasions most knowingly in the 1999 Illingworth Classic series.

Fine Horizon continued enhance her reputation, winning the 1999 Tasmanian Oaks at White City and 1999 Show Cup at Devonport both in fast times.

In the Launceston Cup Fine Horizon started her title defence with a seven-lengths heat win.

However she had a challenger in the semi-final.

Claretown Swap was odds-on in her Launceston Cup semi-final and for most of the 522-metre journey Fine Horizon was chasing him and Waugh Zone.

Fine Horizon rallied hard and split the pair, going down to Claretown Swap by a half-head.

In a memorable final Fine Horizon became only the second chaser after Mystery Bridge (1975-76) to win consecutive Launceston Cups.

She chased another star bitch, Proper Lass, until the back straight, then ran away to win by 5½ lengths in a slippery 30.62. Claretown Swap ran down Proper Lass for the runners-up prize.

Fine Horizon’s greatness was sealed but there was more to come over longer distances.

Within 10 starts, she would set track records at White City over 616m and 743m.

Overall, her career record was 35 wins from 66 starts and it was little wonder she was crowned Tasmanian Greyhound of the Year for 1998-99 and 1999-2000.

Top Shiraz rounded out the McClenaghan trio of wins taking out the 2002 Group 3 Final.

After Fine Horizon’s 1999 Cup win Pat McClenaghan said that part of his success in breeding dynasty was to always go to the best sire.

“Because if you don’t have much success with a bitch you race, if they are well bred then they will generally be good broodbitches,” Pat said.

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