By Isaac Murphy
Bago Bye Bye is the 2019 TAB Gold Cup Final winner after another bold front running performance against Australia’s best stayers in last night’s final at Albion Park.
Queensland trainer Darren Russell was greeted by a raucous home crowd on his return to the podium.
The three-year-old is now a dual group one winner.
A superb training effort from Russell has seen him develop from a Group One winning sprinter to a Group One winning stayer in a matter of months after he returned from a stint in New Zealand.
“It’s fantastic, exciting and unbelievable all in one, to bring him back from New Zealand and achieve a goal we laid out for him it doesn’t get much better,” Russell said.
“It was always the plan to step him up, but it was a big ask he’d only had a couple of fifth grade wins in Australia and suddenly we had him up against the best stayers we had to offer Australia.
“Normal training sense says you should go through your grades before you tackle some of the Group Ones we have, but he’s an exception to the rule this dog he’s proved he belongs.”
The dog came through a tough campaign interstate competing in both the Association Cup at Wentworth Park and the Sandown Cup without success, but the dog was ripe for the Queensland swing.
“He’s been pretty spot on since I got him back to Brisbane, he was a bit unlucky in the State of Origin, but the way he bounced back in his heat told me he was ready,” Russell said.
“His run home was almost as quick as last week, so I was pretty confident when he got to the top he’d go on with it and he did.”
Russell is now faced with a problem most trainers would dream of; push on as a stayer or have a crack at the $350,000 Brisbane Cup?
“It’s either the Superstayers or the Brisbane Cup Heats for him next week, I’m a bit torn whether I really want to give him another 700 four weeks in a row or do I give him a chance at a distance I know he can also compete,” Russell said.
Not to be lost in the victory was the run of Russell’s up and coming Bago Bluff, the two-year-old running a bold race at only his fifth try at the trip.
“Bago Bluff was huge last week and without seeing a replay it looked like another big run to finish fourth checked off heals,” Russell said.
“A couple of months ago I couldn’t win a Novice with the dog, he’s come on in leaps and bounds and can hopefully be the heir apparent to Bago Bye Bye when he hangs it up.”
In the night’s other feature, The Group Three Flying Amy Classic it was a dog who’s fast developing a cult following who produced a huge run from the tail in Ray Smith’s Feral Franky.
The dog known in greyhound circles as ‘The Feral’ produced a run reminiscent of his heat win the week before coming from near enough last at the winning post first time round to come over the top.
“I wasn’t too worried about the box (5) he’s never going to lead, but he relies on the other dogs around him to leave him alone, it was heart it mouth stuff,” Smith said.
“You don’t plan to be last at the post first time round, but that’s how he operates, he got a bit of luck tonight, but you’ve got to be there to capitalise on it and he did.”
Unbeaten at the track and trip the carrot of a Brisbane Cup tilt was there for owners and trainer, but with plenty of years left ‘The Feral’ is headed back south.
“He’s added a second Group race to his resume and the field he beat tonight was as good as a Group One and to have that on his resume at just over two-year-old is unreal,” Smith said.
“The owners were pretty strong that they wanted to go to the Vic Peters and cash in on his age races while we can, he’s only young and hopefully we can be back for races like the Brisbane Cup in twelve months’ time.”
There were several other dogs using the night as a tune up for next week’s Brisbane Cup Heats.
On the local front Tony Brett’s recent acquisitions Black Opium and Deliver are set for next week, the former luckless in the Flying Amy, while Deliver beat Robbie Britton’s smart Neo Cleo who will also be there next week.
The Victorian’s will be strongly represented by the Anthony Azzopardi Kennel headed by Seal the Deal who produced a gritty win in race ten on the card, along with litter mates Whiskey Riot and Fernando Riot.
A familiar face in Evelyn Harris is also set to bring Bad Neighbour and Fran’s Bonus up from her Northern Rivers base after both finished in the placings in their respective races tonight.