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  4. A brief history: TAB Origin Greyhound Series

A brief history: TAB Origin Greyhound Series

By Isaac Murphy

The Origin Greyhound series returns to Albion Park in 2021 and the stakes couldn’t be higher in what’s billed as The Decider.

Queensland took out the inaugural series in 2018, and after New South Wales responded in 2019, bragging rights are on the line.

Last year’s COVID-enforced cancellation has only made participants and pundits hungrier for the third edition, which will be decided this Thursday night with the Origin Sprint, Distance, and Match Race to determine this year’s victor.

The concept always receives a boost with a pair of Origin coaches; New South Wales rugby league legend Terry Hill continuing his tenure for New South Wales while barnstorming Queensland front rower Ben Hannant steps in to lead the Queenslanders home.

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ORIGIN DISTANCE (710m)

The Origin Distance Final has been the only race where honours have been split between the two states.

Queensland drew first blood in 2018 as Selena Zammit’s Double Gee set his state on the path to victory.

In a stacked field, fellow Queenslander Champagne Sally took up the running for Ray and Mary Burman, and the champion bitch gave a brave sight until the shadows of the post where Double Gee and New South Wales hope Sherbini flashed late.

Double Gee clocked a brilliant 41.62-second chase in a race dominated by Queenslanders Tony Apap’s Jalapeno in third and Champagne Sally fourth.

A couple of places further down in the 2018 edition was John Finn’s Poco Dorado who would bide her time and avenge her loss with a first out first home win for New South Wales in 2019.

It set the tone for the 2019 series, with many banking on Double Gee to repeat the 2018 triumph, but it was not to be.

Poco Dorado speared to the lead from box seven and didn’t relent, behind her a New South Wales trifecta - kennel mate Veloce Nero and Jack Smith’s little digger making up the podium.

Races

6
6

Albion Park | Brisbane Greyhound Racing Club | 8:34 PM

UBET Origin Greyhound Series Distance F

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6

Albion Park | Brisbane Greyhound Racing Club | 8:07 PM

TAB Origin Greyhound Series Distance F

With the head-to-head series locked at one apiece, the importance of winning the distance race can’t be understated, confirmed by a couple of key chances in this year’s race.

Mark Saal – Pump It – QLD

“You look at her first two starts over 700 - third and fifth - and you could wonder what she’s doing representing Queensland, but both runs have been full of merit - she just needs and ounce of luck and gets her chance to prove herself this week,” Saal said.

“When she first started over the 500, she went through a similar phase where she would find trouble and I think she’s going though the same feeling out process over the 700, but I’ve seen enough to know she’s going to be on come Thursday.

“She jumped well in the Dashing Corsair last week but went straight up the back of Zipping Niseko and lost all momentum, the margin was only about four lengths on the line and that’s a big effort to pick yourself up again.”

 

Zipping Niseko – Tony Brett – NSW

“It’ll definitely be a bit strange donning the sky blue for Zipping Niseko in the distance race, I’m a Queenslander through and through, but she’s been with us for a few weeks now and is a member of the family,” Brett said.

“There’s a lot of responsibility when you take on a bitch of this calibre, the connections show a lot of faith in you and Origin or not we’ll have her ready to go on Thursday.

“She couldn’t be better prepared for this race going unbeaten against similar competition in the Listed Dashing Corsair and then drawing the one Thursday night, she’ll be very hard to catch if she jumps well.”

Races

7
7

Albion Park | Brisbane Greyhound Racing Club | 8:28 PM

TAB Origin Greyhound Series Distance F

ORIGIN SPRINT (520m)

Queensland have had a stranglehold on the sprint since Tony Brett’s dual Group 1 winner Jury would not lie down, taking out the inaugural running in 2018 in a race which had the crowd out of their seats.

Just a week earlier, the beloved Queenslander had taken out the Group 1 Winter Cup and mustered an effort to give his state an unassailable 2-0 lead in the series.

The dog drove to the front early but was forced to race on off the fence throughout the trip, with New South Wales rival Catch me Curly always within a length on the fence.

Jury looked a sitting duck for the swoopers but as he’d done so many times before, he dug deep much to the delight of a raucous home crowd.

Brett Hazelgrove’s Dam Slippery looked Queensland’s best hope to win the sprint in 2019 but had a mountain to climb facing Million Dollar Chase winners Mystic Riot and Good Odds Harada, but produced an effort similar to Jury to hang on in the drive to the line.

Despite a stack of pressure from Mystic Riot, Hazelgrove’s bitch would not give up the rail and despite repeated efforts from the Group-winning dogs behind her, no-one was going to catch her on her home track that night.

Dam Slippery flew the flag for Queensland in 2019 as the series went to New South Wales, securing wins in the distance and match race.

Races

8
8

Albion Park | Brisbane Greyhound Racing Club | 9:19 PM

UBET Origin Greyhound Series Sprint F

8
8

Albion Park | Brisbane Greyhound Racing Club | 8:52 PM

TAB Origin Greyhound Series Sprint F

Heading into this year’s Sprint, NSW look to hold the dominant hand with superstar Wow and Million Dollar Chase winner Handsome Prince looking to chalk up a maiden win for the southerners in the race.  

Danielle Matic – Wow – NSW

“We were really happy with his trial a fortnight ago when he went 29.84, I think Jungle Deuce trialled a similar time and we saw the improvement there,” Matic said.

“He had a bit of a shocker on Saturday night at Wentworth Park just completely bombed the start, but that’s an abnormality for him and I’m glad he got that out of the way before Thursday where he should get a handy run from the four.

“It’s a race we were desperate to be a part of, he qualified for the Speed Star in Melbourne, but we didn’t want to risk getting him stuck in Victoria and missing out on Origin.”

 

Tony Brett – Orchestrate – QLD

“There was plenty of positives to come out of Orchestrate’s third place finish in the Flying Amy, he was just a couple of lengths off where he needed to be winning the Young Guns, but to see him chase like he did from behind and still run 29.92 was a big tick,” Brett said.

“Realistically if he wants to be winning this week, he’s going to have to recapture that first split and I think he can do it, he should run a nice straight line from the five and swoop down to the fence carrying momentum down the back.

“I’m definitely going to feel more comfortable when I can put my Maroons hat back on and cheer for Orchestrate in the sprint and Extra Malt who’s a star in the match race.”

Races

8
8

Albion Park | Brisbane Greyhound Racing Club | 8:53 PM

TAB Origin Greyhound Series Sprint F

ORIGIN MATCH RACE (520m)

Queensland are unbeaten in the sprint but it’s a different story when it comes to the match race, with Frank Hancock’s Mister Beluchi and Jack Smith’s Feral Franky coming clear late in their respective match races.

Hancock’s Mister Beluchi looked in all sorts of trouble when the Peter Wilson trained It’s Dyllan took the early lead in 2018, but the former rallied back to ensure there wasn’t a Queensland whitewash.

Jack Smith had Feral Franky at the peak of his powers for the 2019 match race and as brave as Queenslander Infrared Star was early, The Feral was simply too slick coming from behind in a 29.78 gallop.

Races

9
9

Albion Park | Brisbane Greyhound Racing Club | 9:38 PM

UBET Origin Greyhound Series Match Race F

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Albion Park | Brisbane Greyhound Racing Club | 9:37 PM

TAB Origin Greyhound Series Match Race F

This year, the Queenslanders look to have their backs against the wall, with up-and-comer Extra Malt facing a goliath task in taking on gun chaser Jungle Deuce – however anything is possible with the home ground advantage.

Leanne Hall – Extra Malt –QLD

“It’s a massive task she’s got in front of her taking down Jungle Deuce, but we’re extremely thankful for the opportunity and glad the selectors were thinking along the same lines as us,” Hall said.

“The numerical form isn’t there on paper, but she’s been buffeted from pillar to post in those recent runs and still charges to the line, you’ll see a different bitch under match race conditions.

“She’s a freakish talent running 29.6 and 29.61 in back-to-back races earlier this year and that was competing against seven other dogs not one.

“They’re a couple of chasers who have a fair bit in common, they won’t blow you away with a rapid first sectional, but the run homes are sensational we’re going to have to match Jungle Deuce’s 12.47 last week.

“We were happy to be drawn inside, she just has to be well enough away to hold the rail and make him do plenty of work to get past her.

“If she can hold a slight advantage coming for home it’s going to be a mighty close finish, I hope she can hear the crowd who I’m sure will be doing their best to cheer her home.”

 

Jack Smith – Jungle Deuce – NSW

“The Flying Amy was the primary goal, but I knew if he ran well there that’d likely put him right in contention for the Origin match race which I just love as a concept,” Smith said.

“Feral Franky won the match race back in 2019 and what an honour to be the one dog selected to race for New South Wales in back-to-back editions.

“As special as he’s been (Jungle Deuce) in a full field, I think he can be even better in this format, he’s been dealing with traffic every week and now he gets the chance to get out there and run.

“He’s never raced against the Queensland bitch (Extra Malt) and being her first match race you’re not exactly sure how good she’ll go, so we’re taking nothing for granted.

“I don’t mind being drawn outside her, my dog’s got great track sense and I’d be very surprised if they came together at any stage in the run.

“I’m definitely confident after last week, but we’re travelling to her home deck where she’s won plenty more races than us - I’m sure the track will be buzzing.”

Races

9
9

Albion Park | Brisbane Greyhound Racing Club | 9:11 PM

TAB Origin Greyhound Series Match Race F

The Origin action kicks off at the Brisbane Greyhound Racing Club from 6.22pm.

Click here for more information.