History of the Adelaide Cup

The History of the Adelaide Cup

From its humble beginnings the Group 1 Sky Channel Adelaide Cup has now become the stepping-stone to stardom for some of Australia’s household names in greyhound racing.

The first Adelaide Cup was held at Waterloo Corner in 1956 and won by the Fred Grimes-owned Oakland Chief. From Waterloo Corner the cup was moved to Bolivar, near the current Globe Derby trotting complex before taking pride of place at South Australia’s headquarters for greyhound racing, Angle Park, in 1972.

And it didn’t take long for the ‘boy from Broken Hill’, the late, great Doug Payne to etch his name into the archives of Adelaide Cup history.

Payne won the first three Adelaide Cups held at Angle Park – Bristol Miss (1972), Valjuka (1973) and Bristol Sue (1974) – a record that has never been equalled.

Revered in SA for his dominance of the SA training ranks, winning a record 14 training premierships, Payne always rated Bristol Sue as the best greyhound he ever trained.

When one considers some of the big names who passed through his kennel – Ascapella Miss, Red Pulse, Fullock’s Fancy, Yodel High, Harada’s Pick Bristol Chant and Bristol Miss – Bristol Sue certainly had something going for her.

Former Gawler Greyhound Racing Club chairman, Bernie Neal, was successful in the 1974 Adelaide Cup with Turn Pillage before a three-year dominance by Victorian trained greyhounds of SA’s biggest race started.

Golden Spur (1976), Cavalier Queen (1977) and Riviera Tiger (1979), in controversial circumstances, broke the drought for interstate kennels. Riviera Tiger’s win created headlines Australia-wide when the Adelaide Cup was declared a no-race and was re-run the following week after the lure had broken down.

The controversy arose as greyhounds who were engaged in that year’s final were also engaged in heats of the Australian Cup at Olympic Park but, because of the no-race, were forced to miss that series to return to Adelaide for the cup re-run.

Following Riviera Tiger’s win SA again dominated its premier sprint race for the next seven years.

The Clem Mitchell-trained Encanto, a natural front runner, was successful in 1979 before the Howard Gray-trained Youthful Prince, who was owned by a syndicate of 20 headed by former Adelaide Greyhound Racing Club committeeman, and since Greyhound Racing SA board member, Leon Chapman, won the race in 1980.

Colin Wachtel, now a household name in greyhound racing circles, won the 1981 Adelaide Cup with rank outsider Lady Tornquest who, in pre-post betting was a 100/1 chance to win the race.

Then based in the Riverland, Wachtel still rates Lady Tornquest, who went on to win the AGRC and Gawler Anniversary Cups as one of the best greyhounds he has trained.

The Cyril Boston-trained Smithy’s Belle won the cup in 1982 before the ambitiously named Superstar won in 1983.

Trained by Darrell Johnstone, who later became a part owner of Australian ‘superstar’, Brett Lee, Superstar lived up to his name by not only winning the Adelaide Cup but also the 1983 AGRC Anniversary Cup and also representing SA in the 1983 National Sprint Championship at the now defunct Gabba circuit.

With greyhound racing thriving in SA during the mid-1980s, the win by the Blair Cross-trained Knocklaun Gold in 1984 set a new benchmark at Angle Park. Knocklaun Gold, in winning his heat of the cup, became the first greyhound to break the 30-second barrier in a race – clocking 29.99.

Knocklaun Gold also holds the distinction of being the shortest record holder in the history of SA, and probably Australian, greyhound racing when, just 20-minutes later that time went by the wayside with the record being lowered to 29.74.

The Gary Mellor-trained Thundering Two, one of SA’s best young greyhounds to grace the Angle Park circuit took out the 1985 cup to cap off a memorable year for the Mellor kennel. A year earlier Thundering Two had won the Colin Viney Memorial Champion Puppy, the SA Derby, the WA Young Star Classic and also the Gawler Produce Stake.

The Alan Kelly-trained Farquhar took out the 1986 Adelaide Cup before the well-bred Joe Hili-trained Club Edition ran a race-record 29.94 in winning the cup in 1987.

Bev Hall, and her partner Charlie Merrett, were colourful characters in SA greyhound racing during the 1980s and they combined to win the Adelaide Cup in 1988 with High Wonder. The 1988 Adelaide Cup was the first time the race was held in January – a place it now firmly holds on the Australian greyhound racing calendar.

After winning the first three Adelaide Cups at Angle Park the ‘Meadows Maestro’, Doug Payne, broke a 14-year drought when rank outsider Kuriarkin, owned by the late Bill Hocking, was successful in 1989.

Payne often referred to Kuriarkin’s win as one of his greatest training achievements. Drawn awkwardly in box four, Kuriarkin, who had only scraped into the field, flew the traps to snare the early lead before taking advantage of a first-turn scrimmage to score in 30.44 and, in doing so, landing some very nice wagers for loyal kennel supporters.

With the prizemoney for the Adelaide Cup on the spiral, SA’s premier race was becoming a ‘must’ for the leading interstate kennels.

The Gerry O’Keefe-trained Sandi’s Me Mum, winner of the 1989 National Sprint Championship, was the star attraction for the 1990 Adelaide Cup and she delivered the goods running out an easy three-length winner over the Payne-trained Packard in 30.23.

O’Keefe, one of the industry’s gentlemen, was always receptive to the media and one of the best advertisements for greyhound racing was his promotional shot leading into that year’s cup – a man and his dog – O’Keefe and Sandi’s Me Mum stretched out in bed having an afternoon ‘kip’.

Following her Adelaide Cup win, Sandi’s Me Mum confirmed her status as one of Australia’s all-time great bitches by winning her second National Sprint Championship.

Another of Australia’s highly feted bitches, the Doug Ferrami-trained Highly Blessed and a slick 29.95 in winning the 1991 cup before the Ray Cunneen-trained South Road Sid ran a race record 29.83 in winning the 1992 cup.

With three victories on the trot in the Adelaide Cup it again was SA’s turn when the Joe Perovic-trained Croation Star became the youngest winner of an Adelaide Cup when scoring a 30.17 win in 1993. At just over two years of age, Croation Star defeated a classy line up which included Gun Law Osti and 1993 National Sprint Champion, Casino Tom.

Don and Helen Foster, one of SA’s most successful husband and wife teams, landed the 1994 cup with Perplexed in a new race-record time of 29.49. On occasions injury-prone, Perplexed flew the traps to lead throughout and beat Golden Currency, who dead heated in the inaugural Topgun, and Golden Mike, who also was owned and trained by the Fosters. In the twilight of his career, Golden Mike, who had won the 1992 Gawler Gold Cup, was very gallant in defeat.

Perplexed also holds the distinction of being the last SA-trained greyhound to win the Adelaide Cup. Since 1994, interstate raiders have won the $50,000 winners’ cheque.

In 1995 New South Wales tasted its first success in the Adelaide Cup when Forest Fin, a son of arguably one of SA’s finest sprinters, Ginger, ran a new race-record of 29.33 in beating Jurassic Vapour and Golden Currency. 1995 also heralded another amazing piece of history for SA’s only Group 1 feature.

In finishing second the John Keep-trained Jurassic Vapour had just started to make his mark on the Adelaide Cup.

Based in Queensland, Keep vowed to return again in 1996 to try and avenge Jurassic Vapour’s defeat. True to his word, Keep did come back and Jurassic Vapour was successful in beating the Both Barrels in 29.55.

Despite his rising years and having competed at the highest level for almost two seasons, Jurassic Vapour returned to SA in 1997 to again tackle the cup.

A third placing behind the late Merv Patching trained Rare Deceit and Grand Illusion was enough for Jurassic Vapour to snare his piece of Adelaide Cup glory. He is the only greyhound to have won, and been placed in two Adelaide Cups, in three consecutive years – a feat which may never be equalled.

Rare Deceit’s Cup win, like that of Riviera Tiger in 1978, was shrouded with controversy when a no-race was declared in one of the heats, necessitating a re-run the following Monday night to allow the final to be staged on the Thursday night.

Ironically, it was Rare Deceit’s heat which was declared the no-race and, after winning the re-run and drawing box one for the final, she proved too classy in leading throughout.

However, it was the no-race, which destroyed the Adelaide Cup aspirations of two of SA greyhound racing’s stalwarts – Brian Lee and Edlin Lienert. Lee and Lienert owned star SA sprinter Oak Raider who crashed into the outside running rail when the lure failed and was scratched from the re-run.

Twelve months later Oak Raider won through to the Adelaide Cup final but in his swansong, was no match for Australia’s emerging superstar, Rapid Journey.

Trained by Jane Carruthers, Rapid Journey had little form leading into the cup series but, after a power-packed performance to land an effortless 9.5-length win over Plumb Bob and Brookside Cindy, he was the name on everyone’s lips.

From Adelaide Cup glory, Rapid Journey went on to win the Australian Cup, Perth Cup, Golden Easter Egg and Melbourne Cup amassing almost $500,000 in prizemoney for the year. Now standing at stud, Rapid Journey’s progeny has really made its mark on the Australian racing scene.

The strong, wide-running Ken Welsh-trained Young Harrison took out the 1999 cup in one of the most open Adelaide Cup finals before history-making performances in 2000 and 2001.

Peter Giles, one of Australia’s leading mentors, had never tasted success in an Adelaide Cup but that changed with the turn of the century when Jack Junior record a track and race-record 29.32 win.

From Knocklaun Gold becoming the first greyhound to break the 30-second barrier at Angle Park in 1984 to Jack Junior’s track-record gallop in 2000, greyhound racing in SA had come a long way.

Late in 2000 greyhound racing circles were abuzz with the ‘new kid on the block’, Brett Lee. Greyhound Racing SA’s prime objective was to lure connections of Brett Lee to Angle Park.

He was the hottest piece of property. Get Brett Lee to Angle Park and the crowd would be hanging from the rafters.

GRSA was successful in attracting Brett Lee to Adelaide. And, following a sizzling 28.96 solo trial around the Angle Park circuit, he was the cynosure of all eyes.

Trained by Darren McDonald, Brett Lee won the Group 3 Interstate Challenge Cup before streeting his opposition in his heat of the Adelaide Cup.

Despite meeting a classy field in the final, which included recent Group 1 winners Classic Capri and No Intent, an air of expectancy hovered over the track as Brett Lee was paraded towards the boxes for the final. Drawn awkwardly in box three Brett Lee exploded from the boxes to lead throughout for a six-length win over Classic Capri and Renzo Bale in a new race and track record 28.88 – yes, Brett Lee had become the first greyhound to officially break the 29-second barrier at Angle Park.

Like Rapid Journey, Brett Lee was destined for stardom with the Adelaide Cup providing the stepping-stone. His 28.88 track record run was his fifth individual track record.

Following his Adelaide Cup win Brett Lee went on to win the Australian Cup, Golden Easter Egg and Warrnambool Classic. The Adelaide Cup honour roll contains the names of no less than four AGRA Hall of Famers Sandi’s Me Mum, Highly Blessed, Rapid Journey and Brett Lee.

Following Brett Lee local star Brookside Bear won the cup in 2002 recording 29.67 he was raced by Ray Borda and trained by Terry Cahalan Brookside Bear defeated Victorian’s champions Carlisle Jack & Henerik Bale.

In 2003 the Peter Dapiran trained Waterview Star defeated Melbourne Cup winner Excite Ability and Arvo’s Junior who later become a superstar of the staying ranks winning the National Distance Championship at Angle Park. Waterview Star ran a smart 29.34 but unfortunately had his career cut short due to serious injury.

Underrated Victorian sprinter Hotline Hero won the cup in 2004 and became the first group 1 success for outstanding trainer Kelvin Greenough. Raced by Greenough’s good friend Corey Siekman, the black and white chaser upstaged the more fancied finalists’ including long odds on ($1.50) favourite Big Daddy Cool and Hall of Fame superstar Bogie Leigh in 29.56. from box 4.

Darren McDonald returned in 2005 to win the cup with the talented Collide raced by AFL superstar Tony Lockett. Collide defeated Go For Forever and Black Lee in 29.52.

After another drought of local trained winners classy sprinter Miss Spicy upset a team of Victorians with a brilliant win in the 2006 cup. The former Queenslander raced by Sarah Pringle was trained by Troy Murray who with his father Ray had enjoyed a long association with Pringle.  Miss Spicy recorded 29.46 and proving it was no fluke when she also took out the Australian Cup in March only to have her career cut short in the lead up to the Easter Egg.

In 2007 Victorian Big Time Max ran down Airbourne Bale to win the cup brilliantly in 29.30. The talented sprinter begun well and stalked the leader for most of the trip before racing away in the home straight to win well. It was a star-studded field including AGRA Greyhound of the Year Betty’s Angel.

In 2008 a youngster with only 15 starts under her belt blasted out the seven ally to win brilliantly in 29.40 for Victorian trainer Jason Thompson. Whippy’s Image was to race only briefly for the rest of the year because of injury and we perhaps never saw the best of her. Raced by New South Wales legendary greyhound man Dennis Reid it was another success after decades of breeding and racing top class chasers.   

Jason Thompson made it back to back cups in 2009 when his Superstar El Galo held off a late challenge from the popular local star Scull Murphy. The “Scull” almost brought the house down when turning for home he appeared a winning chance, but it wasn’t to be and the 2008 AGRA Greyhound of the Year El Galo added another Group 1 to his already impressive resume.

Outstanding Paul Wheeler owned and bred Dyna Lachlan made a one act affair of the 2010 Cup with an all-the-way win from box two. Recording a fast 29.63 it was his 22nd career victory for the Dailly camp from Anakie in Victoria and took the star sprinters stake earnings to over 271 thousand dollars.

Due to a change in the AGRA calendar the Adelaide Cup was conducting twice in the one year in 2011. The race was changed to an October fixture after being run in January most years.

The first Adelaide Cup for 2011 was won by smart Victorian Kilty Lad. The outstanding sprint talent made it 17 and four from only 27 starts and collected his second Group 1 in 20 days after scoring in the Silver Chief final at the Meadows on New Year’s Day. The brilliant youngster, had also made the Hobart 1000 in late December 2010 so he was no stranger to elite level racing, he had won the Group 3 WA Young Star Classic at Cannington in November and made the final of the Group 3 SA Derby in October. In the second edition of the cup for 2011 Victorian youngster Mepunga Nicky who only a month before had claiming the Group 3 SA Oaks led all the way to beat a top-quality field. Mepunga Nicky, who started $4.10 on Tattsbet, flew the lids and cleared the field from box eight, railing hard and holding off a late challenge from $2.90 favourite Radley Bale she claimed her first Group 1.

2012 and less than a week after being involved in a serious crash that claimed the life of his litter-mate Big Black Mac, Spud Regis collected the biggest pay cheque of his career to that point and stamped himself as a genuine star of the sport. Shooting for his eighth straight win, the son of Bombastic Shiraz showed his class flying out of box five to be second to the first turn. He quickly overhauled local hope Prank Call down the back straight, shooting clear as they turned for home. Spud Regis $4.40 kept his composure in the run to the line, stopping the clock in 29.75 seconds and holding off fast finishing Qua Vadis $9 by a length-and-a-quarter. Proven Nitro $4, the fastest qualifier, was two and three-quarter lengths back in third.

2013 boom South Australian Ernie Bung Arrow stamped himself as the best young chaser in land with an incredible victory in the Group 1 Adelaide Cup on Thursday night. The big Angle Park crowd roared as the rising star, who cost just $800, exploded from box eight and led all the way to deliver the first hometown victory since Miss Spicy in 2006. Ernie Bung Arrow had won 13 of his 14 starts (for just under $120,000 in prizemoney) and followed in the footsteps of the 2012 winner Spud Regis, completing the SA Derby-Adelaide Cup double. Lewiston trainer Ken Gill, who has been in the game for 42 years, was lost for words after claiming the prestigious Group 1.

2014 Victorian trained sprinter Allen Deed confirmed himself as one of the stars of Australian greyhound racing with a dominant victory in the Group 1 Adelaide Cup. Andrea Dailly’s superstar stamped himself as the one to beat when clocking a track-record closing sectional in his heat the previous week and he did not disappoint in the final. Allen Deed isn’t a noted beginner, but when he stepped cleanly and was among the leading pack coming to the first turn, only bad luck was going to beat him. Allen Deed ($2.70 favourite) then exploded down the back straight, zooming around Blurred Lines ($9) on the final turn before coming away to score in a lightning quick 29.48 seconds.

2015 and history was made when champion sprinter Fernando Bale ($1.30) became the first greyhound to break through the $1 million dollar mark in prizemoney when he blew away a strong Group 1 Adelaide Cup field leaving them lamenting in his wake.

With history in the making there was an air of confidence as the superstar made his way to the boxes in front of a large vocal crowd on a beautiful night in Adelaide. The Dailly camp seemed to absorb the pressure and take it in their stride even with owner Paul Wheeler making the trip to the festival state.

He was on hand to witness one of the most brilliant performances seen on the Angle Park circuit with Fernando Bale running a brilliant 29.20 in winning by over 5 lengths.

In 2016 local champion Worm Burner ($3) for Cameron Butcher and Weekend Binge for Kel Greenough were both sent out as the equal favourites, but it was Aqua Cheetah who got the jump on his rivals as the boxes flew open. Worm Burner began better than expected from his inside box and was pushing through on the inside as a wall of four or five went to the first turn together.

Aqua Cheetah accelerated and took control out the front straight however Worm Burner who looked like being positioned beautifully just behind the speed shifted out on the first turn causing trouble to most of his competitors and also cost himself many lengths.

Weekend Binge dove back to the inside to chase out after the leader while Worm Burner balanced back up and set off after the leading pair. Dyna Boomer ($6.50) for Andrea Dailly who began very slowly on dispatch got a lovely run through on the first turn due to the interference and moved into fourth.

Racing down the back straight Aqua Cheetah cleared out from his rivals running a blistering 16.64 of the back straight setting up a race winning break. Weekend Binge chased hard while Worm Burner out wide and Dyna Boomer on the rails both began making ground powerfully. Entering the front straight Aqua Cheetah was in no danger going on to win in a sizzling 29.41 for the 515m journey.

In 2017 Raw Ability (Barcia Bale x Bugatti Flyer Mar ’15) broke through for a deserved win at the highest level when saluting in the Group 1 Adelaide Cup (515m) at Angle Park.

The black dog, trained in Victoria by Anthony Azzopardi, jumped well from box four and raced into second behind local hope High Eden Frost (Banjo Boy x Zardae Feb ’15) in the early stages before slipping into top gear down the back straight, charging clear to score in an airborne 29.50.

Fellow Victorian Aston Dee Bee (Barcia Bale x Aston Elle Apr ’15) rocketed home to grab second, with High Eden Frost a gallant third.

2018 and the Thompson kennel from Victoria made it four Group 1 Adelaide Cup victories in the past 10 years when Real Simple for Seona Thompson was able to lead thought out in SA’s premier race.

The son of Collision and Unbelief joined his kennel mates in Aqua Cheetah in 2016, El Galo in 2009 and Whippy’s Image in 2008 as the most successful kennel in recent times of the Group 1 feature.

In front of over 1,300 people on course Real Simple which was the soul Interstate greyhound in the field was sent out on the third line of betting behind race favourite Fabwik for Kirin Corby and SA’s star sprinter Honcho Monelli for Tony Rasmussen.

Real Simple had shown in his most recent wins plus a flying heat win that he had exceptional speed on box rise and again on final night he exploded out of the boxes to lead to the first turn. Bogie Bullet at bolters odds also began smartly for trainer Ben Rawlings and quickly raced into second spot. Fabwik was average away and pushed her way into third leaving the front straight on the first occasion. Honcho Monelli missed the kick completely and was back midfield and looking for room.

As the field raced down the back straight Real Simple was low flying in front with Bogie Bullet giving chase, Fabwik attempted to make ground in third while the rest of the field looked out of play. Turning for home Real Simple could not shake Bogie Bullet however the line came up too soon and Real Simple went on to record a fantastic win for his connections in a slick 29.69 crowning him the Group 1 Adelaide Cup champion. Bogie Bullet was brave in defeat running second only going down by 1 length with Honcho Monelli motoring home out wide into third a further 3.25 lengths away.

In 2019 if you didn’t see it you almost wouldn’t have believed it.

That’s the most apt way to describe Hooked On Scotch’s remarkable Group 1 Adelaide Cup of 2019. Booking his Adelaide Cup spot with an electrifying State Of Origin success a fortnight ago in 29.19, Hooked On Scotch was handed box one for his maiden group 1 assignment on Friday, coming at just start ten.

Showing ability that belies his 22-month old age tag, the son of Barcia Bale and Nicki Fields was considered one of three key chances for Friday night’s SA feature, with dual group 1 winner Sennachie ($2.20) and classy sprinter Whiskey Riot ($5.50) right in betting also. The race promised to be a cracking spectacle, but no one could have envisaged what was to follow. In a mad rush to the first turn where Whiskey Riot raced to the lead with Sennachie hot in pursuit, Hooked On Scotch lost his place and drifted off the track … losing all hope.

While all eyes were on the neck and neck battle between Whiskey Riot and Sennachie in the run home, Hooked On Scotch dropped from the clouds with a thunderous finish to snare a last stride triumph in 29.44.

Second was a gallant Whiskey Riot for Anthony Azzopardi just a head away, while ironically, Sennachie finished a neck away from Hooked On Scotch at the finish, the same margin he trailed him on the clock in the recent State Of Origin.

2020 All Troy Murray wanted to do after Golden Night’s storming last stride victory in the Group 1 Adelaide Cup was celebrate. And he had willing compatriots in owners George Kairouz and Terry Hill to help him. Come Saturday morning the trio were feeling the effects of that celebration after a 29.55 victory to the $6 chance over the $1.70 favourite Catch The Thief with $16 chance Mepunga Isla in third. Both were high in praise of the job done by Troy Murray to get Golden Night settled and turned into a Group 1 winner.