History of the Australian Cup

Australian Cup: a chronology

The chase for the sport’s “Cup of Dreams” commenced in 1958 (with the exception of 1963 when the Cup was not held due to the MGRA relocating from the old North Melbourne track to Olympic Park).

From 1964 to 1995, the Australian Cup was synonymous with Olympic Park. But for two years (1996-97), the Cup was staged at Sandown Park due to the closure of Olympic Park because of the City Link freeway project and the MGRA’s subsequent search for a new home.

However, regardless of venue, the Australian Cup has always been the Australian Cup.

It is a race for champions… and only champions win it!

Obviously the 62nd Cup winner will join a compendium of greats – legends of the loam!

The MGRA’s blue ribbon sprint has been won by such exalted names as Rookie Rebel (1958), Worthing (1965), Benjamin John (1969), Ungwilla Lad (1975), Tangaloa (1980), Eaglehawk Star (1985), Ginger (1989), China Trip (1992 & 1993), Mancunian Girl (1994), Tenthill Doll (1996), Brett Lee (2001), Bogie Leigh (2004), Pure Octane (2005), Velocette (2009), 2011 Dyna Lachlan, 2016 Dyna Double One and 2017 Fanta Bale who are all indelibly inscribed on the Australian Cup honour roll.

Over 60 years, the Australian Cup has experienced a stakes spiral.

For instance, when Rookie Rebel (1/4F) took out the inaugural 1958 event – from the back mark of eight yards at North Melbourne (675yds) – his owner-trainer, Wally Hooper, landed an 800-pound ($1600) purse.

Other significant first prize money increases occurred in 1970 when The Smoother (7/4F) snared $10,000 for Norm Kay; 1974 when Kim’s Monaro (5/2) landed $20,000 for Bob Doak; 1979 when Boundless (6/1) took home $30,000 for the Lew-Fatt family; 1983 when Drop Of Wine (1/1Fav) grabbed $50,000 for John Hellingman; 1991 when Franklin Deano (11/4) won $65,000 for Ned Bryant; and 1996 when Tenthill Doll (1/2Fav) secured $100,000 for Harry Sarkis. However, the Cup winner’s purse decreased in 1994 ($50,000) and 1995 ($55,000)

But in 2006, South Australian sprint siren Miss Spicy ($28.80) – owned in Queensland by Sarah Pringle – took home $125,000 for Troy Murray.

Then in 2009 Velocette ($8.20) took home $150,000 for owner Ron McCullagh and trainer Graeme Bate and then in 2010 we again saw the first prize rise to $175,000 when won by Dyna Lachlan. Only to sky rocket in 2013 to the equal second highest prizemoney event with the Easter Egg a whopping $250,000 when won by another Dailly trainer star Spud Regis.

In 2015 the Cup provided a fairy tale win for popular Gippsland couple Gerry and Rose Kleeven, it had taken them 40 years to breed and race a Group 1 winner but Luca Neveelk held off all the fast finishers to win the Cup in 29.96 leading all the way from box four. A large number of family supporters were on hand to cheer home the winner. In fact, so loud were the post-race cheers that MC Rob Testa remarked, “This is undoubtedly one of the most popular winners in Australian Cup history.”

In 2016 Dyna Double One became just the third greyhound in world history to clock $1M in prize money by taking out $355,000 Group 1 Australian Cup, in what was his last race start it was a fitting end to a very decorated career, including the big race double after winning the 2015 Melbourne Cup.

In 2017 an amazing performance by Fanta Bale added the Australian Cup to her impressive resume Underrated but ultra-consistent she claimed her third Group 1 trophy at The Meadows – and her first as a sprinter – with a surprise victory. Trained by Robert Britton for Australia’s most successful breeder Paul Wheeler, Fanta Bale had won two 600m features at The Meadows, the Hume Cup in October and Rookie Rebel invitational on the opening night of the Australian Cup Carnival. After winning the Rookie Rebel Britton opted to revert to sprinting for the Australian Cup rather than testing the daughter of 2012 Topgun hero David Bale and US-bred dam Ucme Typhoon as a stayer and his decision proved to be a $250,000 masterstroke. She was to race superbly right throughout the year winning over one million in Stake money

In 2018 Anakie greyhound trainer Andrea Dailly won her fourth Australian Cup (525m) when Hecton Bale won in a sensational 29.53sec at The Meadows last night. Settling in second position behind Hasten Slowly, Hecton Bale found the lead in the back straight and won by a whopping five lengths, much to the delight of an emotional Dailly. It was his 13th win from 26 starts, and the $250,000 first prize took his prize money earnings up to $336,753. Hasten Slowly ($36.10) finished in second place, with Queenslander Opal Nera ($7.30) third.

2019 – Dyna Patty ($3.90Fav) delivered trainer Andrea Dailly her fifth TAB Australian Cup (525m) tonight at The Meadows with a scintillating front-running display. After exiting box one, the daughter of Fernando Bale and Unix Bale hit the first turn with Black Opium before showing a superior turn of foot entering the back straight. Dyna Patty eventually scored by two lengths over Black Opium ($8.50) and Deliver ($6.20) in a scorching 29.58sec.

2020 – Anthony Azzopardi’s golden run has continued with Fernando’s Riot annexing Saturday night’s Group 1 TAB Australian Cup Final. Going into the showpiece event largely discarded by punters after drawing awkwardly in box six, the son of Fernando Bale and Ready To Riot miraculously found himself trailing tearaway leader Hardaway Winnie turning into the back straight. “I’m so proud of Fernando’s Riot,” Azzopardi beamed after the 29.72 rails hugging victory. “He’s spent his career pretty much in the shadow of Whiskey (Riot) … if you told me a month ago he’d win us an Australian Cup I would have said you were joking. I’m just thrilled; he’s a beautiful animal.”

Statistically, from the 62 Cups held, favourites have saluted on 25 occasions.

The shortest-priced winner is obviously Rookie Rebel (1/4Fav) and the longest-priced winner is Tangaloa (33/1) – trained by Joe Hili – who won in 1980. Tangaloa was also runner-up in 1979.

In the battle of the sexes, the dogs lead the bitches 43 to 17. And the winning box draws are (Box 1) 18; (Box 2) 9; (Box 3) 8; (Box 4) 3; (Box 5) 6; (Box 6) 4; (Box 7) 5; (Box 8) 9. NB. There was a dead-heat in 2003 – Blackjack Tom and Most Awesome.

And there has been only one dual winner – China Trip (1992/93).