Muppet's Surprise Easter Cup Success

Muppet upstaged red-hot favourite Stop Line to secure the coveted Easter Cup at Hobart on Thursday night for trainer John Pearce.

Brennan Ryan

20 April 2019

DYSART trainer John Pearce continued his great association with the Herbert family at Hobart on Thursday night with Muppet scoring a surprise win in the TAB Easter Cup Final (461m).

Muppet, who made the field on the strength of a brilliant second behind Stop Line in the heats, went straight to the front from box seven in the time-honoured feature, turning the tables on Stop Line to score by 2 ½ lengths in a slick 25.83.

Not surprisingly, the black chaser showed plenty of pace from the traps in the 83rd running of the Easter Cup, matching motors with race favourite Stop Line before the pair collided, Muppet coming off the better to bring up her 12th win from 39 starts.

For Muppet, a daughter of Nolen and Limbo Maid, the win – at the nice odds of $7 – was her first feature race success at Hobart, having run second in the Tasmanian Breeders Classic prior to being runner-up in the Bob Brown Memorial.

“She’s just two lengths short of a real top class dog, she never gives in,” John Pearce stated.

“Muppet is a really quick bitch and when she jumped clear and put the early speed to them they weren’t going to catch her. Though, when Stop Line raced up he jumped on the back of our bitch, but she just kept going and eventually pulled away from them in the straight.”

Boasting a terrific strike-rate, Muppet is considered one of Tassie’s better sprinters, chasing home Peco Can in some classic events early days.

“Her form speaks for itself – she has good ability but just finds a better dog now and again. She has won heats of features in brilliant times, but box draws I think have just always brought her unstuck in finals. Winning the Easter Cup was a great reward,” the Dysart mentor added.

Pearce says winning the Easter Cup was satisfaction also for her owner/breeder Tom Herbert.

“Tom is a great mate of mine and his dad Tom (snr) and I have been friends going back to the days of racing at TCA. Tom (junior) bred this litter and had them broken in and at the time I wasn’t really well – the pups started to show some promise in trials,” recalled John.

“He had arranged for Debbie Cannan at the time to take them on and train them. Muppet was one Tom kept so I asked if I could have a go with her – the name Muppet comes from her as a pup growing up because she was a handful to begin with.

“Tom (snr) hasn’t been well of late so this win will be a real pick me up – he loves this bitch.”

John’s training career stretches out to almost half a century in Tasmania, and success has come in spades with just a small team of dogs, his most noted wins with Tears For Tash in the Tasmanian Derby (2003) and Shannon James, winner of the the Maiden Thousand (2009).

“We’ve been fortunate to come across a handy dog or two over the years and this bitch is right up there – she is an absolute pleasure to train,” told John.

The Easter Series concluded at Hobart with Bronelly Jacob causing a minor upset, winning the Easter Purse for trainer Anthony Bullock, while talented bitch Jalla Romelda proved to be the class runner of the field taking out the Easter Plate for trainer Susan Gittus.