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Belford bids for back-to-back North Queensland Cups

By Isaac Murphy

Premier local trainer Brad Belford is convinced there hasn’t been a better time to train greyhounds in Townsville, with prize money continually on the rise and the addition of races like the North Queensland Cup.

Belford is looking to stay at the top of the training ranks with defending champion Murphy Rumble and kennel mates Major Gibson and Cult Hero all engaged in tonight’s NQ Cup heats - a race close to the heart.

“Back 15 years ago, when the Townsville Cup became a Group race and we were getting all the best dogs from Brisbane, it just became a little bit too hard for the locals - that’s why we started this race,” Belford said.

“For local trainers, this is virtually our own Townsville Cup; we’re not racing anyone else except ourselves and Darren Taylor brings a few dogs up who’s always supported us - it’s a big deal.

“The money is fantastic, you don’t find too many $11,000 races on the calendar; everyone wants to win it and the competition is just as fierce.”

Murphy Rumble
Major Gibson
Cult Hero

Belford is a lifelong dog man but has only recently emerged as one of the state’s best, due to the health of the industry.

“In all my time training here things haven’t been better, trainers are buying dogs for more money because they know they can earn it back,” he said.

“I myself have only come back to training the last couple of years, I’ve always done it on and off.

“My old man was a trainer in Brisbane, but this is the first time I’ve had a good run at it full-time.

“We’ve got trainers coming back to the sport who gave it away 15 years ago because the money’s got to the stage they can afford to do it.”

The 2020 edition of the North Queensland Cup has attracted three cracking heats, and Belford is represented with one runner in each, but his most well known is Murphy Rumble in Heat Two, who will look to defend title through adversity.

“He’s had a few issues of late; he got hurt around Townsville Cup Time and we’ve had a bit of trouble getting him back, I’d say he’s a little underdone but he deserves the chance to try to defend his crown,” Belford said.

“He’s getting older and he’s not going as well as he was this time last year, but if he can find a way through the heat, he’ll be much better off for the final.

“He’s drawn well in the two, I’d be very surprised if he wasn’t in front at some point in the run, that’s an ideal box from the 498 start.

“It’s a pretty hot heat as well; Bubbles And Brie, Stratford, On The Buses, Tipsy Four, they’re all chances.”

Murphy Rumble has had some sort of a career, 24 wins for Belford with 21 of those coming at his home track - he even made the grade in Sydney.

“I’ve had to adjust my expectations for him, this time last year he had a clean sweep of just about every feature we had up here including the North Queensland Cup, I’m hoping he can bring his best for this race,” he said.

“He had a stint down in Sydney after that with his brother Rumble Master who he’d been beating at home, but he won 11 races down there to Murphy Rumble’s one, so I was pretty keen to get him back home.

“It was tough sledding down there, both of them had won too many races to be well graded, but I’m definitely happy they both got the opportunity to see how good they were.”

Races

8

Townsville | Townsville Greyhound Racing Club | 9:14 PM

BOHLE BARN HOTEL MOTEL Nq Cup Tsv 498 F

Belford acquired Murphy Rumble from Steve Kavanagh’s Northern Rivers production line of litters, the Collision/Velvet Prospect product going above and beyond both parties’ expectations.

“I always keep in touch with Steve about potential dogs to bring up; Murphy Rumble and Cosmic Rumble have been the best of them, but I’ve actually just bought another young one Rumble Ghost who I’m excited about for the future,” he said.

“Steve did say to me he’s no Murphy Rumble, but when I first got him, he also said he’ll win you half a dozen races and he’s got 24, so we’ll wait and see.

“It’s part of training up here there, isn’t a huge amount of breeding done locally, so you’re always on the look out for a good dog or a good line and we got lucky with those two dogs.”

Murphy Rumble might be the nostalgic pick, but Belford can’t get enough of Major Gibson who is well on his way to a similar career, however he recently suffered a minor setback.

“I really set Major Gibson for this race about three months ago and his preparation had been faultless until last week’s Young Guns where he was going to the front and got clipped and landed on the fence,” he said

“Thankfully he’s done no structural damage, he’s just a bit banged up, but we’ve been working hard on him this week.

“If he was 100% perfect I’d say they couldn’t beat him but there’s just that question mark now.

“The main threat in that heat will be Awesome Alex in the one, he’s been running consistent good times up here and from the draw could hold us off the fence, but I’m fairly confident if he doesn’t win he’ll run second and again he’ll be better with another week.”

Races

7

Townsville | Townsville Greyhound Racing Club | 9:02 PM

TONY PARKER

Considering the feats of Murphy and Cosmic Rumble, it’s a fair statement that Belford puts the young gun ahead of them.

“He’s as good a dog as I’ve trained, he hasn’t had the starts of the others but to win 12 of 20 at two-years-old, he’s got a touch of class about him,” he said.

“Hopefully he comes through this series well and I can get him down to the 500 at Albion Park and ready for the Country Cup and maybe a few other races at the end of the year.

“He’s pretty strong physically and mentally, he’s handled everything I’ve thrown his way and he should step up again.”

Belford’s third hope is Cult Hero, a former South-East Queenslander who’s flourished up north, and the trainer has pinned him as the dark horse to take the lot.

“I’ve got high hopes of Cult Hero making it through Heat One, he’s come up with the ideal draw off the inside and he’s been going enormous lately,” he said.

“I got him as a sprinter off Gerard Bowe, but as he’s got older, he’s got stronger, and if he can ping early and lead, they’ll be flat out chasing him down.

“Of the three of them, he’s probably had the best preparation, he just turns up week in week out and puts in for me - I’ve got no doubt he’ll do it again tomorrow.”