The Sunday Afternoon "Finish On"

It’s D-Day in formalising the make-up of the Group 1 TAB Topgun and Topgun Stayers to be run at The Meadows on November 6.

Peter Davis

24 October 2021

It’s D-Day in formalising the make-up of the Group 1 TAB Topgun and Topgun Stayers to be run at The Meadows on November 6.

First conducted in 1993 at Sandown, the Topgun has a rich history, an honour roll which shines yet field structure – by means of the selection process – has always attracted criticism.

The view from interstate is that Victorian dogs secure ‘inside running’ when it comes to a place in the $150,000 to the winner sprint and, for the first time, the iconic event might have a lopsided interstate feel.

Historically, the first six and possibly seven Topgun aspirants pick themselves yet position eight – a place in the select line-up no less valuable than any other – is where controversy resides.

So, let’s have a stab!

NSW’s faithful will surely expect Wow (a Group 1 winner at The Meadows), Zipping Kyrgios, Bandit Ned and Jungle Deuce will make the cut.

Qwara Bale, the winner of 20 from 43 and more than $341,000 has a grand record at The Meadows but has not won in nine starts since a 29.90 all-the-way effort at The Meadows on July 30. Yes, form can be fleeting.

Aston Rupee has a track record on his CV but has yet to taste success at the elite level, Koblenz has high speed and can lead any race in the land but does he have Topgun cred?

And, if the Cranbourne Cup had been the run when the Bendigo Cup was conducted, there’s every chance Koblenz would have the same Group race profile as Aston Rupee – a two-time Group race winner yet each were by means of match race conditions.

La La Kiwi won the Cranbourne Puppy Classic (Group 3) and has posted 29.82 at The Meadows and she clashes with Koblenz in Saturday’s Cranbourne Cup Final.

Adelaide Cup winner Do It while Mr. Fix It has won 14 races at The Meadows over 525m with eight being under the 30-seconds mark. He was third to Qwara Bale in the Maturity and runner-up (to Do It) in the Adelaide Cup.

And then there’s Tiggerlong Tonk … this discussion over the final spot(s) in the Topgun Sprint will be robust.

There’s an argument for up 12 dogs to really make the final cut of eight.

This race is iconic and needs to be the best it can be. Let’s hope the final field is decided on absolute merit and not residency.

Three NSW stars have the runs on the board at Group 1 while Jungle Deuce has Group 2 and 3 wins on his resume in addition to quite stunning times a Wentworth Park, Dubbo and Albion Park.

STAYING ON

Though the new kid on the Topgun block, the November 6 Stayers event will be a beauty.

Five Star appears to be Victoria’s number one seed but Zac’s Entity, Hank The Hustler, Mepunga Ruby and Gypsy Wyong loom large.

Gypsy Wyong contests Saturday’s Group 1 Hume Cup at The Meadows yet the decision on her place in the Topgun Stayers field will be made before her cup assignment.

In all, 15 dogs have accepted an invitation to nominate for the Topgun Stayers’ and here’s a roll of the dice on field make up: Stanley Road, Miss Ezmae, Five Star, Super Estrella, Zac’s Entity, Mepunga Ruby, Gypsy Wyong and Hank The Hustler (subject to fitness?).

Should Hank The Hustler not be ready, position eight, may well be between Kenny The Brute and Mick’s Recall – the Darwin Cup Consolation winner.

Hopefully, the wise heads on the panel won’t rely on GRV’s race results which suggests Mick’s Recall won the Group 3 Darwin Cup on August 15 but the diminutive Dyna Double One bitch actually won the $3000 to-the-winner Cup consolation.

ROAD TO NOWHERE

Social media went into meltdown this week when highly respected greyhound transporter Peter Simpson advised that his Renzo Park business name, for the second time, has been taken up by another operator.

While unregistered, it’s a name Simpson has traded under for two decades and one has to wonder what moral fibre is within another person who cannot support his/her own business on merit.

Simpson does a weekly Sydney to Brisbane run and works closely with Darren Mines (Sydney to Melbourne and NSW’s central west) in what is an unregulated transport industry.

Covid-19 restrictions on border crossing and, to an even greater extent, the downturn in flights has seen the road transport in high demand.

Mines and Simpson only transport greyhounds while others have no issue adding value to end destinations with cargo which would distress a greyhound.

In the end, word of mouth will win out and people are rallying to Simmo’s cause.

ODDS AREN’T EVEN

Greyhound racing wagering turnover is skyrocketing, prizemoney is heading north, re-homing of retired racers is accelerating impressively and greyhound racing’s ‘social licence’ is back on an even keel.

What is awry, however, is the suffering punters endure from corporate bookies.

Take, for example, the $47,000 to-the-winner Great Chase Final secured by Bill McMahon’s Ridge in 30.00 on October 20,

At Group 3, it’s restricted to Victorian bred greyhounds only and that’s something which will be more seriously addressed (in the column) next week.

Wagering giant Sportsbet has a slot in The Phoenix and the company’s profile and media spend is second to none but their price assessors were on the sauce at The Meadows on Wednesday.

Their Fixed Odds place market on the Great Chase Final was, at one stage, an eye watering 539%.

No value: Sportsbet’s market

To the uninitiated, most Fixed Odds place markets are in the vicinity of 130 per cent – that is a 30 per cent profit if all runners take out exactly $100 in the book.

In a three-place dividend race, the justifiable odds are 390 per cent and 260 per cent for two dividends … get the drift?

Just how does it get to 539 per cent? Punters need to have their wits about them at all times and a parimutuel ‘middle tote’ option will always provide a better return.

TAKING FLIGHT

As time goes by, it’s becoming more apparent that The Phoenix, as much as it will promote greyhound racing, has the unintended consequence of compromising Sandown’s Melbourne Cup.

The rich series is generating plenty of news space and some is negative which The Meadows and GRV must endure given that there are significant flaws in the process.

You’d hope no malice was intended regarding clashes and in 12 months, The Phoenix will be debriefed and it can become the race it was intended to be.

Qualification is really key with a majority of the field’s make-up a jigsaw of sorts. GRNSW is yet to show its hand on slot allocation and the waters are by no means clear elsewhere.

The West Australian qualifying process is crippling compared to what others will endure.

The WA rep must race for three successive weeks then, potentially, trial at the Meadows before taking on a primed, well rested line-up comprising the nation’s highest ranked sprinters.

That’s far from ideal and a much better outcome must be found.

ON THE MONEY

In just over a week, NSW owners and trainers will get a pay rise.

GRNSW will be passing on their ‘Rivers of Gold’ windfall from wagering and, in a tiered process, this will be just the start of more dollars returning to industry.

One element which is still missing for NSW participants is a breeder’s excellence program and, surely, that must be in GRNSW’s funding machinations.

The monies returning through wagering are just staggering and, while not within cooee of RacingNSW’s returns, the gallops Point of Consumption Tax parity (below) is evidence enough that having a bet in these troubled, Covid-19 times has engaged a multitude of new punters.

In just five years, RacingNSW’s benefit from tax concessions has increased by a numbing 377 per cent.

Show ém the money: RacingNSW’s coffers are full.