Another chapter in the rich history of the TAB Melbourne Cup was written on Friday night with Whiskey Riot claiming the world’s greatest greyhound race.
For trainer Anthony Azzopardi, it was a dream come true as he became the 54th trainer to win the Cup, while for Whiskey Riot, his winning margin of half a head was the slimmest margin ever recorded in a Cup as he became the first greyhound to win from box 3 since 1995.
As the celebrations from the night wind down, here are six observations from the biggest night of greyhound racing for the year.
Leading is important, but track position more so
The TAB Melbourne Cup again showed how important early speed is. But equally important is track position.
By beginning well and sticking to the rail, Whiskey Riot forced Western Envoy to cover more ground. For every extra metre off the rail it runs, a greyhound must run approximately six meters further overall. At the end of the 515m trip, the difference between Cup glory and the runner up cheque was just centimetres.
So while Whiskey Riot became the ninth Cup winner in 10 years to have led through the first turn, the key to his success was forcing Western Envoy to run further.
Whiskey Riot wins the closest ever run TAB Melbourne Cup
The fastest greyhound doesn’t always win
While Whiskey Riot was first past the post in the world’s greatest greyhound race, he wasn’t the fastest greyhound in the final. Not even close.
According to data from the Stride Master tracking beacons fitted on each runner’s racing vest, he was just fourth fastest greyhound through first split travelling at 70kph, the fifth fastest through the second split at 70.8kph, and fourth fastest at the finish line at 62.9kph.
Western Envoy (72.6kph) was fastest through the first split, Oakvale Beauty (72.2kph) fastest through the second split, and Hooked On Scotch the fastest past the finish line (65.7kph). None could find their way past the determined winner.
On the night, the fastest greyhound through the first split was Simon Told Helen who clocked 73.7kph through the first split in the Cup Night Sprint, while Allusion clocked the same speed through the second split in the Provincial Plate. Hooked On Scotch’s 65.7kph was the fastest at the end of the race.
Despite his top speed, Allusion has no luck behind Mepunga Daniel in the TAB Provincial Plate
We knew Simon Told Helen was good, but…
.. he might be something special. Really special. His second split of 18.48 in the Cup Night Sprint was an amazing 0.30 seconds faster than Whiskey Riot’s mark in the Cup final, and just 0.12 seconds slower than the great Fernando Bale’s fastest second split of 18.36. Fernando Bale ran 4.93 to the first mark in that run, giving him a 13.43 middle section. Simon Told Helen clocked 5.08 in his gallop, giving him a 13.40 second section that could well be the fastest middle section ever run.
Simon Told Helen has now won two group races and over $100,000 in prize money and doesn’t turn two until 26 January 2020.
Simon Told Helen shows tremendous acceleration to win the Cup Night Sprint
Never write off a champion
For the first time since March 2018 – a run of 40 starts – Tornado Tears didn’t start a race as favourite.
Affectionately known as ‘Batman’, Tornado Tears opened a $6.50 pop in the Bold Trease final (before receiving support late), a remarkable price for a greyhound that came into the final as four-time group 1 winner boasting 9 wins from 10 starts over 715m at Sandown Park (including two group 1).
After winning his first four group 1 finals, his Bold Trease victory broke a run of seven outs at the sport’s highest level by claiming the Bold Trease and the $105,000 winners cheque took him past Up Hill Jill and into seventh place in all time prize money ($884,120). It is the third highest figure for a stayer behind kennel mate and highest prize money earner Fanta Bale ($1,365,175) and dual Sandown Cup winner Sweet It Is ($962,145), and all but assured his place in the Hall Of Fame.
It was also trainer Robert Britton’s third consecutive Bold Trease victory following Fanta Bale (2017) and Barcali (2018).
Tornado Tears wins group 1 number 5
Leaders win match races
There was an enormous amount of interest in the first Cup Night Speed Star match race between Feral Franky and Sennachie. The two were incredibly evenly matched and both were clear favourites at various stages in betting. The one thing that separated the two was their early speed, which again highlighted how important that is in a match race. While greyhounds in match races enjoy a clear run, the dog at the front still wins around 80% of matches showing how difficult it is to run down a greyhound carving out fast times out in front.
The 13th race on Cup night saw the total prize money on the night increase to a total of $1,033,400. It was distributed among 25 different trainers.
Sennachie wins the first Cup Night Speed Star
Greyhounds aren’t the only breed that love to race!
A special 14th race was added to the TAB Melbourne Cup card with the first ever Whippet Exhibition Race. Richo led his rivals a merry dance in 10.85 for the 152m trip!
We thank the Whippet Racing Club of Victoria for being part of the night, check them out at www.wrcv.asn.au.
The Whippets provided an entertaining 14th race on TAB Melbourne Cup night!
What was your highlight of TAB Melbourne Cup night? Let us know on Twitter @sandowndogs
Click here for full results from TAB Melbourne Cup night.