Kyrgios To Target Melbourne Cup Over Phoenix

Conceptually, The Phoenix was pitched as the best versus the best but it can’t and won’t be the way things are progressing.

Peter Davis

19 October 2021

Conceptually, The Phoenix was pitched as the best versus the best but it can’t and won’t be the way things are progressing.

The group racing calendar and processes in place to qualify for a grid position at The Meadows on December 18 virtually ensures that one of the fastest, highest profile sprinters in the land will be missing.

News that the NSW GBOTA has programmed qualifying heats for their slot in conflict with heats and final of the Group 1 Melbourne Cup will see headline act Zipping Kyrgios rightfully at Sandown Park rather than Wentworth Park in mid-November.

“How can we overlook a Melbourne Cup for a race that we are not guaranteed a start in?” Zipping Kyrgios’ owner-breeder Martin Hallinan said.

“The dog needs to run in the Topgun or a Cup Prelude to be eligible for the Melbourne Cup and I’ve always been mindful of the stresses of back-to-back travel with the dogs.

“The Melbourne Cup is worth $500,000 to the winner and a race everyone wants to win.

“The Phoenix qualification process clashes [in NSW] with a Sandown campaign, we cannot secure the Racing Queensland slot eligibility-wise, Ray [Borda], I’d expect, will go with Aston Rupee and WA’s process is just too big an ask … and it rules the dog out of other important races.”

It’s expected that both GRNSW and Racing Queensland will formally announce their slot conditions this week while it’s understood TAB and Sportsbet are fairly advanced in slot negotiations.

The remaining slot sits with SEN with their status unknown.

But one thing is for sure, whichever greyhound represents the GBOTA’s slot won’t be considered good enough by their connections for a crack at The Melbourne Cup.

It’s hardly ideal and detracts from the race’s status.

The composition of The Phoenix will be announced on December 10 and the prospect of good fortune rather than elite ability may see this benchmark race as little more than a sideshow.

And it deserves better.