Bookmaker Garry Thomas has fielded on each and every Healesville Cup Final since Eureka Man won the inaugural Cup in 1990.
And the Healesville life member rates the star-studded field that will contest Sunday afternoon’s $25,000 to-the-winner Group 3 straight-track showdown as good as he’s seen.
“It’s a ripper field,” Thomas said.
“It’s right up there. It’s as good a field as I’ve seen. I haven’t gone right through the field closely yet but I think Aston Dee Bee will be very hard to beat, as will the dog of Ashlee Terry’s, Burn Like Fire.
“The Healesville Club has come a very long way in the last 28 years and so has the Cup. If memory serves me correctly, the first Cup, which was won by Eureka Man, trained by a Healesville committeeman Ken Patterson, was only worth $1000.”
Thomas’ two Healesville Cup fancies are both prominent in TAB’s market, with Aston Dee Bee (1) at $4 and Burn Like Fire (7) a $5.50 chance, with Melbourne Cup hero Ando’s Mac (8) the $3.30 favourite.
In an age where bookmakers have become an endangered species, Thomas is continuing a proud tradition of working the Healesville Cup meeting, with the betting ring one of many significant changes he’s witnessed over the last three decades at the picturesque venue.
“It’s certainly changed,” Thomas offered.
“When Healesville first started, I fielded at the first meeting, my bookmaker’s stand was an umbrella stuck in the ground!
“There were three bookies, each with their own umbrella. When it rained you were standing in a foot of mud. After that the club put in a concrete slab and then turned an old corrugated shed into a canteen.
“I’m a life member of Healesville and I’ve known everyone that’s been on the committee from day one. All the Managers have been very good and made their contribution. The big change, of course, was going from grass to sand six or seven years ago, which brought all the city trainers.
“I only work the Cup at Healesville these days. As soon as it went TAB it became too hard. Phones and the Internet have affected not only greyhound bookmakers but bookmakers in general. To be honest, bookmaking is terrible nowadays but I still enjoy it and keep doing it because I enjoy the people.
“I also do coursing. Ray Boundy, a very well-known bookmaker in any of the codes, did the coursing for many years before passing it on to me. Ray asked me if I would keep doing it and I told him I would so I’ll keep doing it until the day I die because I gave Ray my word.”