2021 Ladbrokes Launceston Cup
515-metres / Group 2
Dates: 8th & 15th February 2021
By Brennan Ryan
TASMANIAN champ True Vintage and the Group Two Launceston Cup were both of great significance to David and Margaret Crosswell.
It’s now 33 years since Tassie’s greatest ever bitch claimed the time-honoured series, one of three Launceston Cup victories for the Crosswells.
Nicknamed ‘Beverley’ by David and Marg’s daughter Debbie, the black and white bitch was regarded by former sports reporter Rod Manning as the ‘Apple of the Tassie Isle’ during a stellar career that produced 40 wins through her trailblazing 66 starts.
True Vintage was a faultless beginner from the boxes and possessed electrifying early speed.
One morning in the mid-1980s David and his wife Margaret had begun to break in some Busy Vintage-Little Jackie pups on their Sanford property trial track. It took David a second to look at his stopwatch and break into a grin – they had really struck gold.
Times mean much more in greyhound racing than in either harness or galloping, and when Crosswell pressed his thumb to stop the clock, the time recorded was the fastest he had registered in training greyhounds. The pup who ran that time was, of course, the mighty True Vintage.
“Having our own track gave us an early indication on how the pups were going,” David said.
“From day one True Vintage was special – there was no doubt she would become a star.”
Well before taking out the 1988 Launceston Cup at White City, True Vintage’s career had begun with just two starts in Hobart over 457m. She posted a Maiden win at just her second start off box eight, running a best-of-the-night 26.59. It was only the beginning.
Crosswell ventured to the mainland for a campaign with a noticeably young True Vintage.
Within 11 starts True Vintage broke the 400m track record at Maitland and finished third to Quick Royal in the 1987 Sale Cup, then staged as a sprint event over the 424m.
Crosswell then headed to Olympic Park, aiming True Vintage towards the 1987 Maturity Classic. In the qualifying trials she streeted her rivals to run a staggering 29.56, but the MGRA refused to ratify what should have been a new record.
“She was that far in front Ron Hawkswell was calling Emma’s Gem (second placegetter) as the winner,” David recalled. “True Vintage certainly came of age and matured up quick.”
True Vintage began to etch her legacy in stone during the 1987-88 racing season.
Through the next dozen or more starts True Vintage gathered a swag of feature race titles in the Tasmanian Oaks and Coca-Cola Cup at White City,the NWGOTBA Cup at Devonport, and the Silver Trophy at Hobart, also posting a track record of 26.32sec at for the 457m sprint journey.
A Tasmanian Breeders Classic, Tasmanian Gold Cup and Easter Cup were added to her glowing achievements.
She would also claim the Tasmanian Sprint Championship at Hobart, before going down to WA star Fremantle Echo in the National Sprint Championship, run in horrendous weather.
The legendary chaser also recorded a monumental 15-start winning streak.
“It came to a point we were getting offers interstate for over $70,000 to buy the bitch but we knocked them all back,” David said. “We made the big decision as a family to keep her.”
Entered for the 1988 Launceston Cup series, True Vintage blitzed her heat and semi-final before starting odds-on from box five in the final. As champions do best, she won the $7000 Cup by six lengths from Some Gain and Family Chariot in a brilliant 30.07 seconds.
The Crosswells then looked ahead to the Hobart Thousand, a race that had previously eluded them for 25 years.
But True Vintage changed all that, dominating the event as a 7-2 on favourite. Jumping from box one, she ran a scorching 26.34 to land the prestigious trophy, taking the $11,000 first prize in her 29th career win.
She became the third chaser to complete the Launceston Cup-Hobart Thousand double.
True Vintage retired in May 1988 and it was little wonder she was crowned Greyhound of the Year.
David and Margaret won three Launceston Cups in the space of 14 years with Highland Summer, True Vintage and Flash Billy.
From a mating of two home-bred chasers the Crosswells were sent on a run of success with Highland Summer, who produced Busy Vintage who later on produced True Vintage. They were all champions and the earliest members of the Tasmanian Greyhound Racing Hall of Fame.
Margaret sadly passed away through illness in June 2014, leaving behind a stellar legacy. David and Margaret were inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2019.
This year’s Launceston Cup (515m) series begins with the heats on February 8 with the $40,000-to-the-winner final on February 15.