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Cup calls for Cult sprinter

By Isaac Murphy

Leeroy Rogue has taken everything in front of him up the Capalaba straight but there is one race that has continually eluded the cult sprinter, The Capalaba Cup.

The chaser spends the majority of his season dominating Tasmanian tracks under the watch of local trainer Debbie Cannan, but his Capalaba pedigree ensures trainer Jeff Crawford bookmarks a run at the cup each year.

His list of accomplishments at Capalaba include two Capalabourne Cup’s, a Michael Miller Memorial win, a Grand Prix trophy and a track record to boot, but trainer Jeff Crawford is determined 2018 will be the year of the cup.

“We had a crack at the Cup two years ago and ran a good second to a very good dog Better Than This and his preparation didn’t quite line up last year,” Crawford said.

"This year we really wanted to have it as part of the plan for him and after a year’s worth of racing in Hobart he’s ready to go.”

Crawford said the October 27th Cup was Leeroy’s grand final but with good form he was hoping to extend his stay in Queensland.

“He’s back for the Capalaba Cup and hopefully the Capalabourne Cup if he’s lucky enough to qualify for that and from there we’ll head back to Tasmania,” Crawford said.

“He arrived here Monday morning and I gave him a box jump yesterday at Capalaba where he went 19.85sec, which was very pleasing on a slow track, the next best was about 20.31sec so he remembered where he was and seemed quite happy to be back.”

“We’ve entered him in a Best 8 on Saturday against a pretty good field actually, so that’ll be a good lead up race for him and all being well he’ll go straight to the Capalaba Cup Heats the following Saturday.”

Leeroy Rogue lives up to his name in the boxes as he week in week out he misses the start by a number of lengths before showing explosive speed, a pattern Crawford has come to accept and prompted his move to Tasmania.

“He gets so excited in the boxes he jumps up and puts his paws above the viewing grill, so when the lids come up he literally drops to the ground and then jumps,” he said.

“It was something we tried to do a bit of work on early but if you push them too much it can be detrimental.”

Leeroy Rogue was bred by Crawford in Queensland and while the trainer hoped to keep him in the state, his unique racing pattern didn’t lend itself to Queensland tracks.

“It was a case of finding a track that suited his racing pattern and unfortunately we don’t have a one turn track in Queensland,” Crawford said.

“We thought Hobart might be the place where he could be at the top of the tree and it’s been a result that’s proven to be true, he’s had thirty starts down there for twenty-three wins and has only been out of the placings twice, so our decision to send him down there was vindicated.”

After his tilt at Queensland glory Crawford said the dog would be headed back to Tasmania to hopefully build on his impressive resume.

“All things being equal he’ll get through the cups carnival down in Tasmania which includes the Hobart 1000, The Launceston and Devonport Cups over summer and after that we’ll access where he’s at,” he said.

Such is Leeroy Rogue’s standing in Tasmania the dog is already set up at stud once his racing days are over.

“He’ll eventually retire and go to stud, he’s got a really big cult following down in Tasmania and a number of trainers and owners have already inquired about using him at stud down there,” Crawford said.

“He’s gone a tenth off the track record at Hobart, so people appreciate how quick he is, so it’s nice to be safe in the knowledge he’s got a future after racing.”

Crawford said he’d been blessed having an association with such a unique talent and did not take his sprinter’s brilliance for granted.

“I know a lot of people who follow him and back him an it certainly gives us something to look forward to every week when he races,” he said.

“He’s an exciting dog to watch, you know what his racing pattern will be week in week out where he’ll miss the start and make that big run around the dogs or weave through them to hit the lead by the turn, it gets the heart pumping and reminds you why you love greyhound racing.”