There will be $1m in prize money available on TAB Melbourne Cup night this November following a significant change to the race programme on greyhound racing’s biggest night of the year.
The Sandown Greyhound Racing Club will introduce three new events on the night and is increasing the prize money in seven others including the sport’s marquee event – the TAB Melbourne Cup – which will carry $630,000 in prize money, consolidating its position as the world’s richest greyhound race.
TAB Melbourne Cup night is widely regarded the sport’s premier night of racing and one that trainers across the country aspire to participate in. In 2017, Lara trainer Jason Sharp not only got to experience the thrill of qualifying a greyhound for the TAB Melbourne Cup, but ran third with his chaser Kouta Mayhem. It was a life changing experience for the affable 46 year old.
“It was a dream come true, everyone aspires to get there,” said Sharp.
“It was definitely our biggest week in the sport. We’re pretty lucky that we’ve been in other group finals, but they’re no comparison to the Melbourne Cup.”
“It does stamp your card knowing that if you’ve got the dog you can compete with the best.”
Sharp and his wife Jessica were the subject of a feature video from TAB Melbourne Cup night, sharing their experience of having a runner on the sport’s biggest night of the year. The video has proved extremely popular through the Club’s social media platforms, and he still looks back fondly at the clip.
“Three or four weeks ago I went back and watched the video again, I still that emotional high from watching it.”
Through the video, Sharp was able to share his TAB Melbourne Cup night experience with thousands of people. But the experience – and prize money – continues to influence Sharp and Kouta Mayhem’s owner, Andrew Lazos, and highlights the importance of increasing returns to the sport’s participants. Much of the prize money is reinvested in the sport and further strengthens the sport at all levels.
“He (Lazos) went and bred another litter he was so keen to go again. He just loves seeing his dogs race.”
Part of the changes to TAB Melbourne Cup night includes the introduction of the Provincial Plate, a $35,500 series for greyhounds yet to win a race in the city. Two heats will be run at each of Geelong, Bendigo, Cranbourne and Traralgon with the winner of each heat progressing to the final on TAB Melbourne Cup night. The series is designed to give as many owners and trainers as possible the opportunity to participate in the sport’s biggest night, and Sharp has some advice for any trainer fortunate enough to have a greyhound compete on the night.
“Just enjoy it, enjoy the week,” he said.
“Don’t miss out on anything, don’t miss out on the box draw or lunch. Enjoy it and take it all in.”
In all, there will be eight feature finals on TAB Melbourne Cup night, and all races will carry a minimum of $10,000. The TAB Melbourne Cup will be run on Friday 23 November.
Paw note: In November 2017, Greyhound Racing Victoria announced a $4m annual increase in prize money. There will be over $47m in prize money available in Victoria in the 2018/19 season.