Legends galore at Traralgon Cup

Holy grail: Traralgon Greyhound Racing Club manager Olivia Alcock, Member for Morwell Martin Cameron, AFL great Gary Ablett Jr, and Latrobe City deputy mayor Dan Clancey with the Traralgon Cup. photographs liam durkin





JUST like that, the Gippsland Festival of Racing is done and dusted for another season.

Headlined by the feature of former AFL champion Gary Ablett Jr, the Gippsland Festival of Racing began on Boxing Day in Sale, before heading to Warragul in mid-January, closing with the final leg in Traralgon on Australia Day.

The evening featured a 12-race card, with the exclusive Traralgon Cup worth $47,000 to the winner, reserved for Race 8.

Meanwhile in the clubhouse, Ablett was wandering around talking to everyone he could, as an auction was held which sold thousands of dollars worth of memorabilia – the money going to Ablett’s charity.

The Bridges on Argyle Traralgon Cup Final (over 450 metres), was worth $74,335 – the winner collecting $47,000 of that pool.

Mobile Legend for Napoleons’ Daryl and Colin Brennan did enough to hold of Revolution, winning by just over a length, winning all five starts from box five.

It was his sixth win from his past seven starts and 17th win from 35 overall.

Mobile Legend won two of the three legs of the Gippsland Festival of Racing, winning the G2 Warragul Cup in race record time a fortnight ago.

“He’s a legend in our eyes,” Daryl Brennan said post-race.

“He jumped well, which he had to do tonight. You can’t give dogs like these a start.

“When he led I didn’t think they could beat him, but the four (Revolution) ran a great race and you’re never confident until they go past the post.”

A healthy crowd came to Glenview Park for the occasion, with Greyhound Racing Victoria putting on a grand show.

While there was plenty of Geelong jumpers in attendance, and people wanting to get a photo with The Little Master, there was also live music, food trucks, a jumping castle and Lego tent for the kids.

A smoking ceremony conducted by Tre Moffatt opened proceedings before the first race.

Around 40 minutes after the last race, (in order to give the dogs enough time to leave the venue and not get spooked), a spectacular fireworks show lit up the night sky.

A number of local groups also benefitted from the night. Rosedale Football-Netball Club pocketed $5000 as part of a community partnership, while the local probus club also won a sum.

During the event, Traralgon Greyhound Racing Club president, Don Haley, was able to speak to The Express.

“I think tonight’s racing has been fantastic, we’ve been blessed with pretty good weather… culminated by the Traralgon Cup, the winner is a terrific dog,” Haley said.

“The carnival has been going for three or four years now and it’s really come into its own, I think a lot more people are attending because they realise that its just a great spectacle.”

The Traralgon Greyhound Club is one of the busiest and most active clubs in Victoria.

“We’re racing five times a fortnight, which when you add it all up I understand is the highest number of races in Victoria,” he said.

“We’d rather be racing more frequently than less frequently.”

Haley believed the support of Ablett throughout the whole festival of racing had been immense.

“It’s been great for all the clubs; Sale and Warragul and again tonight. It’s hard to measure how many people have come along because Gary Ablett is in attendance, but we know there’s certainly a lot of people that have come along that may not have otherwise,” he said.

“He’s been a great ambassador for greyhound racing in this carnival, and I think having a celebrity like him (Gary Ablett) is a good thing.

“When we race at night time, we’ve got the big screen, great lighting on a big track and it all comes onto its own at night.

“Having celebrities like Gary Ablett bring new people to the sport, he’s not going to be around all year, but a lot of these people will return.”

Ablett is no stranger to Gippsland, as his famous father of course grew up in Drouin.

The two-time Brownlow medallist also has some connections closer to the Latrobe Valley, and is good friends with current Hill End Football-Netball Club senior coach Mike Santo.

Ablett tossed the coin at a match between Hill End and Mirboo North in 2021, a year after he retired

following a 357-game AFL career.

The rumour mill was rife at the time Ablett was actually going to play a game for the Hillmen, but so far, he is yet to pull on the boots.

For those wondering what Ablett was like in person, he was very

generous and gave everyone that came up to him the time of day.

Relaying a story to him about his younger brother Nathan batting in a sombrero while playing cricket for Hallora, Ablett Jr just laughed and said “that doesn’t surprise me”.

Granted he has been out of the game for two-and-a-half years, he still didn’t look like a modern-day midfielder, and on first glance, you couldn’t help but think he’d get bowled over by the likes of a Patrick Cripps, Ollie Wines or Dustin Martin.

But, it’s hard to tackle when you get the ball so much.

Two great men: Newborough’s Rob Wilson with Gary Ablett.
Stretch: Mobile Legend wins the 2023 Traralgon Cup.
Salute: Traralgon Cup winning trainers, twin brothers Colin and Daryl Brennan.
Much appreciated: Rosedale Football-Netball Club took home $5000 as part of a GRV incentive to help community clubs. Pictured is Rosedale senior football coach Jeremy Reid with Traralgon Greyhound Racing Club manager Olivia Alcock.
Rubbing shoulders: Geelong fan Paul ‘Lips’ Hildebrand of Traralgon had the thrill of meeting Gary Ablett.