By Peter Quilty
A Rowsley greyhound and trainer have combined to take out the prestigious Australian Cup.
Big-hearted Fernando’s Riot emerged from the shadows of his illustrious litter brother, Whiskey Riot, to claim the Group 1 TAB Australian Cup final (525m) at The Meadows on Saturday night.
Trained by greyhound racing’s ‘man of the moment’, Rowsley’s Anthony Azzopardi, Fernando’s Riot was considered a second-string to his sibling who was all the rage for the prestigious race and was chasing his third Group 1 victory.
But in a surprise result, Fernando’s Riot took out the $300,000 first prize.
“I knew ‘Whiskey’ was gone when he stumbled a bit and couldn’t get across (to the rail),” Azzopardi said.
“But when I saw my little fella (Fernando’s Riot) sitting second, I thought we’re a chance here.”
“Fernando’s Riot has always been in the shadow of ‘Whiskey’. If you told me months ago he’d win an Australian Cup, I’d say you’re kidding. But he’s all heart,” Azzopardi said.
When asked what makes training greyhounds so special, Azzopardi said it’s the thrill of it.
“I get up every morning and these dogs put a smile on your face… I’m so lucky to train these animals.”
Azzopardi had an amazing Australian Cup Carnival, winning three of the five Group 1 events held over the past three weekends at The Meadows, with Whiskey Riot taking out the Temlee and Just Terms winning the Zoom Top.
Whiskey Riot also took out the Group 1 Melbourne Cup over 515-metres at Sandown Park (November 29).