Seona Thompson has won group races across the country, but the TAB Melbourne Cup is the only trophy on display at her Awesome Lodge property.
Seona and her husband Jason have seen some of the sport’s fastest chasers pass through their salubrious kennels over the past 20 years, winning countless feature events across the country. But for all of her success, it is Aston Dee Bee’s 2017 TAB Melbourne Cup triumph that has pride of place.
It’s an achievement Thompson never dreamed of while growing up in Ballarat.
“It’s not somewhere I thought I’d ever end up, winning a Melbourne Cup,” she said.
“As a kid I used to get excited to go Warrnambool on a Wednesday with my grandfather and get a winner. It was a dream to train more than anything, so to get two finalists in the Melbourne Cup last year was very exciting.
“We’ve been fortunate enough over the years to have a lot of good dogs, but to come here with my kids and take on a Melbourne Cup… just to be here on the night was extremely exciting.”
A consistent routine is part of the secret to their success, and while she tries to keep everything as normal as possible in the lead up to the biggest race on the greyhound racing calendar, Thompson concedes that not only is the build up to TAB Melbourne Cup night is like no other, but so is the reaction to winning it.
“I dreamt about it constantly, I probably didn’t sleep a lot, just thinking about it and hoping. You run the race a million times that week.
“When he (Aston Dee Bee) went across the line it was a little bit surreal. I probably started crying by that stage and the rest was bit of a blur. There were a lot of tears on the night and if I watch the replay now I still cry, and do watch it quite often. The photo is up on the wall and I see him every day in the kennel. I remember saying to (owner) Ray Borda if you ever get any offers to sell the dog you can’t, he’s with us forever. There’s been a lot of special dogs over the years and he’s amongst the most special.”
Since her 2017 TAB Melbourne Cup triumph, Thompson has enjoyed a phenomenal 12 months that has seen her win 11 group races including four at group 1 level. Despite the ongoing success at the highest level of the sport, the title of ‘Melbourne Cup winning trainer’ is one that still takes some getting used to.
“Even now some days it still seems surreal. I look at the photo and I see my name there next to the trainer and it makes me smile.
“I often think that my grandfather would have loved it, would have absolutely loved it. I think about him a lot and where I started back with my little 23kg bitch Chariot Woman at Ballarat dogs. I think she won as a reserve in 26.40 and paid $26 or something and I’ve still got the newspaper article about it at home.
“So I think about that often and still pinch myself that it actually did happen for me.”
Thompson will be aiming for further Cup success on Friday 23 November. She has six greyhounds automatically exempted into Friday night’s TAB Melbourne Cup heats including favourite Poke The Bear and the undefeated Black Opium, and has a further two qualified to be drawn.
Nominations for the TAB Melbourne Cup close at 11am on Tuesday 13 November.
Click here for the latest TAB Melbourne Cup market from tab.com.au
Seona Thompson discusses her 2017 Melbourne Cup victory with Aston Dee Bee