Ageless gladiator Bruce Tycoon will be striving to write the defining chapter in the remarkable story of his 119-start career on Friday night when he contests the opening heat of the TAB Melbourne Cup at Sandown Park.
The cut-throat heats of the world’s richest race will be no place for the faint of heart and certainly not where you would expect to find a rising five-year-old, but part-owner Gary Micallef knows better than anyone that Bruce Tycoon is no ordinary greyhound.
“He’s a special boy; that’s for sure,” Micallef said.
“Our family’s been in the game for 40-odd years – we always breed our own greyhounds – and Bruce is definitely the best dog we’ve ever had. When he won the (Group 2) McKenna Memorial at Sandown last year that was the first Group win we’ve ever had.
“He still thinks he’s a puppy and he loves to keep racing. He’s unbelievable and Rob Britton has done a magnificent job with him too. All the workers at Rob’s call him ‘Iron Dog’. He just goes on forever.”
Putting Bruce Tycoon’s longevity in perspective; he was whelped in 2013, the year Black Magic Opal won the Melbourne Cup, with Black Magic Opal the sire of Bewildering, the joint $9 favourite for this year’s Cup in TAB’s all-in market.
Friday night will be Bruce Tycoon’s second tilt at Melbourne Cup glory, after he was second reserve for last year’s final after finishing runner-up to Queenslander Outside Pass in his heat.
If Bruce Tycoon can defy his age and go one better than last year’s heat second, it would be an emotional moment for the Micallef family, as the grand campaigner was bred by Gary’s late father Charlie and is raced by Gary and his brother Philip.
“Dad started in greyhound racing back in 1972, basically operating out of his house in Sunshine,” Gary explained.
“The most successful litter Dad bred was the New Tears – Speedy Kaylene litter that included New Wish. New Wish, which was trained by Allan Britton, was runner-up to Fox Hunt in the 1991 Melbourne Cup.
“There were four pups in Bruce Tycoon’s litter and they broke in really well, although funnily enough Bruce was actually the slowest, although he turned out to be the strongest.
“Dad passed away three years ago in March, but he got to see Bruce win his first few races and he saw him run 29.50 at Sandown.”
It was fitting that North Melbourne legend Brent Harvey, GRV’s Racing Ambassador and the AFL’s games record holder, took a real shine to Bruce Tycoon when two of Australia’s great sporting warriors came together this week for a promotional Melbourne Cup photo shoot (pictured throughout).
“I was thinking we might have a photo of the player with the most AFL games together with the greyhound with the most starts, but then I found a dog with 188 starts, so we’re a fair way off that and I don’t think Bruce will make it that far!” Gary laughed.
“Brent Harvey was an amazing footballer – playing more than 400 games – and I think he could have played for another couple of years, but that’s the way I’d like to see Bruce retire, with something left in the tank.”