The Launching Pad isn’t just a good race for emerging greyhounds – it’s one of the country’s premier races.
No race has uncovered a generation of stars the way the Launching Pad has, and few have generated the same level of buzz and excitement. But like so many races on the calendar, the Launching Pad didn’t begin as the race we know today.
The history of the race dates back to 1997 when it was run as the Dandenong Dry Cleaners Distance, a group 3 race run over 715m. In 2003 it was rebranded as the DDC Launching Pad in 2003, shortened 515m and the unique clause of 1-4 wins and no more than 20 starts added, the intention being to give the country’s best juveniles a chance to ‘launch’ their careers on the national stage.
The potential of the concept was realised straight away with Bounty Lass winning the first ‘Pad’ before going on to finish second to Bombastic Shiraz in that year’s Melbourne Cup. Over the next decade the race carved its own niche on the calendar, however it was the revolutionary change of format in 2015 that elevated the Launching Pad to the status it enjoys today.
After careful consideration the Club changed the format to a paid entry event, but not like other events which carried a fee for the nominated greyhound. Instead, participants would buy a slot in the series then enter a greyhound that qualifies under the race’s revised 1-6 wins and no more than 30 start criteria. Australia’s first slot race – of any code – was born (the Launching Pad pre-dates the Everest by two years).
Participants raced to get involved. Little over 24 hours after the first tickets went on sale, all 64 slots were sold to buyers in every state of Australia with trainers, owners and race clubs all holding a slot.
A look back at the five editions of the series since shows the race stands alone in unearthing supreme talent.
Of the 336 greyhounds to have contested Launching Pad heats since 2015, 37 – or more than 11% – have won a group race. And not just one group race – between them they’ve won a total of 73 group races.
And of those 37 greyhounds that have enjoyed group race success, 16 have done so at the sport’s highest level – and half of them more than once.
As impressive as the Launching Pad series alumni are, the 2021 class could be the best yet.
A look at the opening market for the TAB Melbourne Cup shows the potential quality of the series. Aston Rupee, Aston Fastnet, Kuro Kismet, Silver Lake and Earn The Answers are among the leading Launching Pad contenders – and all are prominent in the TAB Melbourne Cup markets.
So strap yourself in a enjoy the next three weeks – and have your black book ready.
Greyhound to have won Group 1s after contesting Launching Pad heats
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