Training Rupee The Gift of a Lifetime
GLENN Rounds knew Aston Rupee was a special greyhound long before he arrived at his Devon Meadows estate.
Speaking after the two-time Group 1 winner was announced to retire, the man who guided Aston Rupee – billed as the world’s fastest greyhound – through his illustrious 42-start career said that his abilities were evident before he added his polish.
“Sean Cachia had the wee one before he went to the circuit breakers,” he said.
“He told me he called Ray Borda (the owner of Aston Rupee) and told him that dog was a champ – he couldn’t keep up with him on his motorbike – and that was before he didn’t do any work.
“He came here at around 17 months, just after the break-in and he broke a star. It would have been around September 2020 when he arrived, and he came down with a fluffy coat.
“We cut it – I remember taking it to Warrnambool and it had a big scratch on its back, they said it had the Dusty (Martin) look!
Two-time G1 champion and track record holder Aston Rupee has retired.
One of the fastest dogs to ever tread a track – Rupee’s 28.79 PB Sandown will prove incredibly tough to beat for years to come.
Happy retirement, Champ 👏 pic.twitter.com/aqLvH2glGe
— Sandown’s Greyhounds (@sandowndogs) March 23, 2022
“(But) we knew we had something special before we ran with the dog. He was testing brilliantly and we put him in a half court at Warragul over 400m and he broke the record. We were talking to Ray on the way home and I told him that I had never seen a dog break a record before running.
Aston Rupee began their career in December 2020, winning on their debut in a round of the VicBred Maiden at Warrnambool, the same meeting at which Melbourne Cup winner Koblenz also beat their maiden.
He won in 29.25 on his first start at Sandown Park two starts later, and on his first start at the Meadows ran 29.47 – then the third fastest time on record – and his status as one of the greyhounds fastest in the country has been confirmed.
He would end his career with two Group 1 wins – the Topgun and Temlee – two Speed Star wins (one at Sandown and The Meadows), nine group race appearances as well as being a runner-up in the first The Phoenix and finalist. in the first Pink Diamond Champion Sprinter Final.
Despite several races on the schedule over the next few months, including the Golden Easter Egg and Million Dollar Chase at Wentworth Park and the Harrison-Dawson at Sandown Park, Rounds and owner Ray Borda have made the decision to retire their champion to stud.
While the decision came as a shock to many in the sport, Rounds said the ruling has been looming for some time.
“The dog has been telling us for about a month that he wants to ride remotely,” he said.
“We try to win group races on the sprint with a dog screaming for more ground. Ray Borda got phone calls, two or three calls a day for him at stud for a while and we were also asked.
“It is time for the dog to enter his new career and we are looking forward to it.”
Although his achievements in group racing are impressive, it is his ability to run time that has caught people’s attention the most.
He holds the two fastest times at Sandown, smashing 29 seconds four times and a fifth in a try (no other greyhound has done it more than once). He also holds the Angle Park track record and is the second fastest of all time at The Meadows, his time of 29.39 – just 1/100th of a second off the record – recorded on his penultimate start careers.
As impressive as his resume is, there have been a number of other runs that have stood out for Rounds.
“His heat win at the Melbourne Cup was brilliant. He got stuck in traffic and I remember yelling ‘get out of his way’ because he was looking for runs at the line and on the backstretch he was going two on one. It was great to watch and then he dove late and made it to a Melbourne Cup final.
“The Temlee was very satisfying. On Australian Cup night, running like he did was awesome. He came out of the red and he raced against the clock and just missed the record, it was a good experience with the crowd that was there, it was a special moment.
“The night he ran 28.94 at Sandown not long ago – it was a week after the storms and the next best of the night was 29.45. The track easily had four more pitches and I think that was a record.
Asked what made him special about Aston Rupee, Rounds said it was a combination of factors.
“Most dogs lack something, but not him. It’s heart, it’s hunting, it’s courage, it’s speed, it’s strength. He is never beaten. His temper is everything.
That’s not to say it doesn’t have its quirks.
“Barry Haywood was checking him out, I was holding him and he was letting out a growl, like a lion,” Rounds said.
“It’s not because he’s hurt, he’s just letting Barry know who’s boss. Barry will say ‘put him down, will you’ and they’ll have a conversation. They’re talking dog. Basically, he knows he’s the boss.
Aston Rupee – Jimbo as he is known away from the track – will stay with Rounds and his partner Vickie Wisener at his quiet and picturesque property. His “best pal” Airplane Eric, never far away, pairs them with a watchful eye on their favorite treat – beef jerky.
As Rounds reflects on a career that has seen his champion headline the sport’s great racing carnivals, star in television features and even become the first ticket holder at the local cricket club, the word that best describes his feelings – content.
“I will be 58 later this year so to have a greyhound like him now at this stage of my career is quite special,” he said.
“To be able to enjoy what he has done on the track and look forward to what he can achieve off it, I couldn’t be happier.”