By TERRY WILSON
THE national greyhound racing spotlight will be firmly focussed on the Sunshine State as the 2020/21 TAB Golden Greys Summer Carnival rolls on at Albion Park.
The hot carnival opens with the Queensland Derby and Bogie Leigh Queensland Futurity this month and goes through until February 4 with the Group 1 Gold Bullion and the Listed Gold Cup the highlights of what will be a bumper night.
The Country Cup, a popular event for provincial owners and trainers, is also set for February 4.
Staged at Albion Park from December 3, 2020 through to February 4, 2021, the Summer Carnival will feature six black-type events across nine weeks, providing feature racing for sprinters, middle distance types, stayers, and age-restricted greyhounds.
And it will be interesting to see what the age-restricted Derby and Futurity come up with given that it is highly doubtful the event will produce anything like last year when, after changing of dates for the Group 2 classics, there were two held in 2019.
The change of dates was made to fit the classics in with the Summer Carnival. Both had been raced in May but were moved to December, which meant there were two separate winners of both events.
Circle Of Dreams (Angela Langton) won the May edition of the Futurity then Zipping Cosmo won when the event was moved to a December slot.
The two Derbys last year were won by arguably two of the nation’s greatest hounds of their time in Sennachie (29.53s, race record time) in May, then Simon Told Helen (29.65s) in December.
Will there be another hot dog to step up to the plate and go on to match the deeds of the ‘defending champions’?
After his Derby success Sennachie went on to win three Group1s – the Brisbane Cup in a track record 29.38s, the Gold Bullion in 29.41s (both at Albion Park) and the Maturity at The Meadows (Melbourne) in 29.5s. The fawn flyer was also unbeaten in six match-races.
Simon Told Helen was named 2020 Australian Greyhound of the year after his G1 deeds that included wins in the Perth Cup, the Silver Chief at The Meadows, the Harrison Dawson at Sandown Park and the Maturity at The Meadows.
It remains to be seen if Little River (Victoria) trainer Dave Burnett opts to send the dog north for the Queensland classics, especially after his champion raced in the Melbourne Cup (as Chase was going to print).
So the bar has been set high for those chasing Derby honours this time around.
The Bogie Leigh Queensland Futurity last year threw young trainer Barry Kitchener into the limelight when Zipping Cosmo landed the December version at the odds of $12.
It was Kitchener’s biggest success in the industry after Circle of Dreams.
The Futurity is named after outstanding Queensland bitch Bogie Leigh, which won the event back in 2003 for Tony Brett.
After that come the major events of the Summer Greys Carnival.
The programme is:
Golden Sands 600m Group 2 ($60,000) – heats December 31, final January 7.
Golden Ticket 520m Group 3 ($47,250) – heats January 14, final January 21.
Gold Bullion 520m Group 1 ($235,000) – heats January 28, final February 4.
Gold Cup 710m Listed ($113,000) – heats January 28, final February 4.
The G3 Golden Ticket will once again prove an ideal lead-in to the Gold Bullion, with the winner receiving automatic entry into the $235,000 final.
The heats of the Golden Ticket will be conducted as four-dog shootouts, with the final conducted as two-dog match races.
The King of the Creek, Sennachie, holds both Golden Ticket and Gold Bullion crowns. However, his retirement earlier this year leaves the door ajar for the next crop of the nation’s top dogs to reign supreme.
Racing Queensland CEO Brendan Parnell is understandably excited about the hot racing ahead.
“Last year’s inaugural TAB Golden Greys Summer Carnival was a monumental success and we cannot wait to showcase another stellar series of feature racing here in Queensland,” he said.
“It’s a credit to the Brisbane Greyhound Racing Club and Racing Queensland that we have been able to deliver an innovative product, and we hope this continues to attract interest nation-wide and build on last year’s success.
“Following the success of last year’s inaugural Golden Greys Summer Carnival we are looking forward to welcoming back Australia’s best greyhounds in their quest for gold.
“The introduction of a number of innovations around the Summer Carnival added to the national interest in our racing.
“The Golden Ticket is a unique event on the racing calendar, with the heats held under shootout format, the final under speed star format and with the overall winner gaining direct entry into the Gold Bullion final.”
The Country Cup carries $20,000 in stakes and on the same night is the Queensland Short Course final (331m) with prizemoney of $12,600.
(Photo: Box 1 Photography)