Exciting field assembled for Waterloo Cup Sunday

Pictured: Opawa Hugo is a winning hope in the Group 1 Waterloo Cup. Photo credit: Dave Robbie.

Three super-fast heats held at three venues throughout the country have set up a compelling final for Sunday’s running of the $30,000 Waterloo Cup at the Manukau Stadium.

The strong Group 1 field is testament to the rich history of New Zealand’s oldest racing trophy, with the Waterloo Cup first being contested for as a coursing event in 1874.

The 2024 edition kicked off at Addington Raceway, where the talented Dave and Jean Fahey-trained Opawa Hugo produced a stunning 29.66 520m performance. 

The multiple Group race winner and Young Guns syndicate-owned time was the fastest time ever recorded by an open class greyhound around the Addington 520m circuit.

Kennelmate Opawa Archer booked his final field position, when he pressed on stoutly for his second placing 5.25 lengths behind the freewheeling winner.

Joining the pair from Addington for the final will be the strong finishing Garry Cleeve-prepared Who’s Jealous, who maintained a solid gallop throughout when finishing another length behind.

Friday evening saw the heat action moving north to the Hatrick Raceway, where Lisa Cole provided all of the depleted four-dog field for the 520m event, where the first two-finishers were guaranteed a final field position.

Jumping away quickly from the one-trap to set up the pace was the warm $1.30 favourite Federal Infrared. She was in cruise control and her 50th career race victory looked assured.

However, it wasn’t to be, as her kennelmate, the C2 graded Johnny Football, who had settled last going into the first turn, put in huge strides to quickly gather in the pacemaker from where he surged clear to secure his heat win in a fast 29.93 seconds.

Federal Infrared maintained her solid gallop to finish 3.25 lengths adrift and she receives the opportunity of making New Zealand greyhound racing history in the decider, where by finishing in the top-three she will pass Little Mother’s New Zealand stakes earning record which stands at $377,751.

Sunday afternoon saw the third heat being contested at the Manukau Stadium, with the 527m heat attracting an extremely strong field.

It was an action-packed heat, with two favoured contenders from the Lisa Cole kennels charging into the first turn locked together.

The rising chasing star He’s All Go held the rail, while alongside him applying the pressure was the vastly experienced chaser Blazin’ Master. The pair jostled and shouldered each other when duelling around the first turn.

Halfway down the back straight, He’s All Go asserted his authority, easing away from his kennelmate to arrive at judge Murray Larmer holding a comfortable 6.5 length margin, clocking a swift 30.13, the quickest Manukau 527m time seen for a long time.

Blazin’ Master was gallant in the manner that he held down his second placing, while arriving late another 2.5 lengths behind to snatch the third placing and in doing so making the final field was the Corey Steele-prepared in-form chaser Opawa Tails.

Opawa Hugo ($5 & $1.60 – TAB NZ Fixed) makes his return to Manukau, where he will be sighted wearing the green racing vest.

“That was a great run (heat) by Hugo. His draw can work for him, although there’s a lot of early speed drawn inside him, so he must jump quickly. He’s ready to go.

“Opawa Archer ($8 & $2.15) must jump quickly (from 1) to be in it, especially with Blazin’ Master on his outside. He does have early pace and he can feature if he’s on-the-pace going around the first turn. We are happy with him,” confirmed Fahey.

Who’s Jealous ($17 & $3.50) completes the Canterbury representation in this time-honoured event and he provides his conditioner Garry Cleeve with runners in both of Sunday’s Group 1 races, who tells us, “He’s going to require a lot of luck from that draw (5) with the pace that’s in the race. He’s likely to have to navigate traffic around the first turn.

“It’s going down the back where his second stage pace kicks in and he makes his move – he just needs a clear passage. He’s all happy and the travel doesn’t bother him. With a little bit of luck, he can be in it,” said Cleeve.

The talented Johnny Football ($11 & $2.40) will have his first raceday look at the Manukau track, although he was sighted trialling stylishly over 527m here two Sundays ago.

“He a super strong dog, who, at this stage, isn’t as fast early as others in the field. He’s likely to settle back, then bring it home super strongly. He’s going to make an impact over longer distances in the future,” suggested Brendon Cole.

Amazingly, He’s All Go ($1.80 & $1.12) will be chasing after his fourth Group 1 title in just his 21st career race when the White Horse Toaster syndicate-owned star chaser is loaded away into the three-trap.

“He was outstanding in his heat, considering he and Blazin’ Master were bashing each other up when going into the first turn after beginning beautifully. As long as He’s All Go breaks quickly from the boxes, then his strength is likely to carry him through. I believe he’s the fastest dog in the final,” stated Cole.

Blazin’ Master ($7 & $2) has been there and done that, as evidenced by his Auckland Cup and New Zealand Derby Group 1 titles and being the winner of $265,426 in stake earnings.

“Blazin’ Master is a very fast, professional greyhound. His draw (2) is perfect for him, and his claims can never be discounted in any race he’s contesting,” said Cole.

Adding the intrigue factor into this event is the eight-trap draw that the pacey Federal Infrared ($11 & $2.45) has been allocated.

“To be blunt, her draw is terrible for her. I believe she will jam hard down to the rail, which concerns. She’s a fast dog; however, as I said, her draw is terrible. All of our runners are set to go on Sunday,” said Cole.

Opawa Tails ($35 & $4.50) has really come of age lately for his conditioner Corey Steele and he is compiling a respectable Manukau 527m record. Strength at the business end of his races, as evidenced in his latest 527m races, is his best attribute.

“He’s going to need plenty of early luck as his draw (7) is terrible with the sheer early pace drawn inside him. Look, I can’t fault him and he gives me everything. It’s so cool to be in a Group 1 final over 527m – my first time. Tails is bouncing around like anything and he’s a happy go lucky dog,” informed Steele. 

The reserves are 9 Space Boy ($13 & $2.90) – Lisa Cole and 10 Portland Jessie ($26 & $4.60) – Lisa and Tracey Craik.

The Waterloo Cup is Race 11 (4.06pm) and is the second Group 1 race during a meeting that features a truly amazing, strong undercard.


By Peter Fenemor   

Posted on 06 June 2024

< Back