THE $17,500 Bathurst Gold Cup might have been contested over 520 metres, but it was the sprint to the first corner at Kennerson Park that proved decisive in the Bathurst Greyhound Racing Club's feature at Kennerson Park on Monday evening.
Those opening metres saw $3 favourite and track record holder for the distance Buck Fever strike trouble, injuring one of his legs. He was last into the bend and failed to finish.
Former Dubbo trainer Anthony Meredith's dog Mythical Eagle ($3.80) got the best of the start after going from box three. He was two lengths clear of his nearest rival into the bend and from there was never headed.
It got even better for Meredith by the race's conclusion as a third placing from another member of his kennels - Serisier Street ($10.30) - added to winning the Bathurst Gold Cup in his first attempt.
"It's a great thrill particularly for the dog who won it because he's raced in good company all his life without ever winning something big, so it feels like he's deserving of it," Meredith said of Mythical Eagle.
"I thought he could win and I thought she [Serisier Street] could run a place. He [Mythical Eagle] puts himself into a race by his early speed, the track suited him. I probably should have come here years ago."
While no one would have predicted that Buck Fever, who boasts a 29.47 seconds effort over the 520m, would fail to finish, Meredith said he was not surprised the favourite struck trouble early.
Buck Fever had not won from two previous attempts out of box seven and directly on his inside was the dog who placed second to him in the heats a week earlier in the Mudgee trained Ian.
Meredith also said he had some doubts about how the Brett Lee x Kiacatoo PearlClergate chaser would handle the pressure of racing amongst the classy final field.
"I think overall he's [Mythical Eagle] been racing in free-for-all fields, pretty consistent fields, and I don't know whether Buck Fever has had the pressure put on him too much. Not taking anything away from him though, he's a great dog," Meredith said.
"I had my doubts about Buck Fever crossing from the seven because they've all got speed, there was a lot of speed inside him. If he had crossed he could have won it, but I didn't think he'd cross in front of these two [Mythical Eagle, Serisier Street]."
Mythical Eagle zipped out of the three box in the $12,000 to the winner final and held a two-length lead over Grovebrook Boy into the first turn. Sucker Punch was close behind while 2012 Soldiers Saddle winner Willow Blaze was on the outside.
Mythical Eagle was strong down the back straight and by the time he entered the home turn his advantage stood at around four lengths over the chasing pack headed by Sucker Punch.
Mythical Eagle went on to win in 30.1 seconds, beating Darren Sultana's Sucker Punch ($5.80) home by 51/4 lengths. Serisier Street got home well to claim third, a further 13/4 lengths back.
Meredith said the win was a nice boost for his father John, breeder of Mythical Eagle, who is currently in poor health. The Merediths may have more to smile about in the future as well with the two placegetters to be aimed at Wentworth Park's rich Golden Easter Egg series.
"He's four but we'll press on as long as he stands up. It is probably more up this one's [Serisier Street] alley, but we'll have a crack with both of them," the trainer said.