Second reserve Landmark took full advantage of an unlikely race morning call-up to take out the Group 2 Triple M Bendigo Cup Final (425m) on Friday night.
Trained by Robert Britton, Landmark had initially been the second reserve for the $47,000 to-the-winner Cup after running an eye-catching second in his heat to defending champion Aston Bolero, running home strongly from near-last.
First reserve Jesaulenko had been elevated into the field earlier in the week following the scratching of rails runner Aussie Infrared.
Landmark then fortuitously moved into box one following the withdrawal of Black Mumbo, necessitating a change of Friday night plans for Brendan Pursell, who trains Landmark in conjunction with Robert Britton, and his partner Emma Wardlaw.
“We found out at 9:20am this morning that he had gained a start,” Emma Wardlaw said.
“We were planning on having a rare afternoon away from the greyhounds and were going to head to Crown Casino tonight with one of Brendan’s friends. But we knew there was a slight chance there could be a second scratching so we were sort of prepared to come up to Bendigo instead.
“It was such a hot field tonight, but when he drew box one we thought he was in with some chance.”
Despite an excellent record off the red, five wins and five placings from 11 starts, Landmark was a $23.30 outsider, with fastest heat winner Zinzan Brooke, trained by Brooke Ennis, the $3.20 favourite.
Landmark was last out of the boxes, with 2016 Cup winner Aston Bolero, Jesaulenko and exciting youngster Kouta Mayhem all prominent early.
Aston Bolero momentarily took the lead but Landmark drove through along the inside and after hitting the front turning for home he dashed clear, defeating Aston Bolero by 2.67 lengths in 23.70sec.
“It has been a pretty courageous effort by the greyhound to win because he missed nearly three months of racing when he injured some tendons in a heat of the (2016) Shepparton Cup last September,” Wardlaw said.
“We will be heading back to Shepparton with him in a couple of weeks for the Shepparton Cup heats again, so hopefully he’ll have better luck this time around.
“Brendan and I live on Robert’s property. Brendan moved to Victoria in February 2016. We have our own set of kennels on Robert’s property with 29 greyhounds of our own. Landmark is the best of them along with Flyrite.
“Brendan was formerly involved in harness racing but is loving training the greyhounds, and I work as a nurse at the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne. I help him out with the greyhounds as much as I can.”
It was Landmark’s 19th win from 52 starts at his first appearance in a Group event.
He had also been second reserve for the Warrnambool Cup in May, which was won by another Robert Britton-prepared outsider in Leo’s Gift.
A son of Where’s Pedro and Tiz Tears, Landmark is owned and bred by Helen Ivers, and like Britton’s champion stayer of recent years Space Star hails from the Ivers family’s potent Tears bloodline.
On a wonderful night of feature racing at Bendigo, the $10,000 to-the-winner Hip Pocket Bendigo Winter Cup Final over 660m was won by Reefton Treasure, trained by Anthony Azzopardi, while the GRV Vic Bred Maiden Final, worth $7,500 to-the-winner, was taken out by Ian Cockerell’s Garick Olivander.
The first feature race on the night was the Ready 2 Race Mid Year Bonus (425m), open to the top eight prize money earners from GRV’s 2016 Ready 2 Race Sales at Bendigo last November. The winner was the Craig Treherne-trained Lucky Love, who was sold for a Ready 2 Race record $31,000 at the sales, and this was her sixth win from 21 starts. She collected a $5,000 first prize, taking her career earnings beyond $16,000. “She is the first greyhound my husband and I have ever bought from the Ready 2 Race Sales and watching her race has brought us so much joy,” said owner Leanne Love. The night also saw a presentation of a cheque for Southern Cross Austereo’s national fundraiser Give Me 5 For Kids, which supports local children’s hospital wards across regional Australia. The Bendigo Greyhound Racing Association donated $7,000 to the cause, while the Mannings Greyhound Complex chimed in with a further $935, which was based in part on the number of greyhounds that won from the yellow number five rug at Bendigo in June.
*This article was compiled by Gerard Guthrie and Andrew Copley.