Tomorrow night all eyes in the greyhound community will be focussed on seven superb heats of the $70,000 Group 2 Mega Merch Ballarat Cup (450m) at Morshead Park.
For those of us watching the action from home, the key is finding a winner, and ARG was lucky enough to get the thoughts of some of the trainers involved on the night for their respective chasers.
RACE 5 - MEGA MERCH BALLARAT CUP HEAT 1 - 8:18PM
The first heat on the program will provide a lot of interest, with the exciting Dream It stepping up in grade to take on the classy campaigner Peter Rocket. After drawing well in box 1, the Brooke Ennis owned and trained son of Bartrim Bale will be extremely hard to beat. Another interesting runner is the Joe Borg trained Deadly Vane from the exciting Vee Man Vane x Surfing Idol litter. The litter has been extremely unlucky with sensational young sprinter Deadly Clear suffering from a long term injury and the sad passing of the highly talented Slick Scooby. Hopefully Deadly Vane can fly the flag and run a solid race from box 8.
Tom Dailly (Co-Trainer of Yoda Bale) – "The dog isn’t racing well at the moment and I couldn’t see him winning on current form. He has run good times at Ballarat, but Peter Rocket will be hard to beat, as will Dream It with a clear run early."
RACE 6 - MEGA MERCH BALLARAT CUP HEAT 2 - 8:41PM
All eyes will be on the Kel Greenough trained Paw Licking as he attempts to reach the final for a chance to win the 50k bonus on offer for winning three country cups in a calendar year. There aren’t many better one bend dogs in the land, and if he spears to the front it will be hard to see them getting past him. His toughest competition will come from the Jason Thompson trained Innocent Til, who has a flying 25.14 win to his credit over the track and distance.
Kel Greenough (Trainer of Paw Licking) - "Well we are drawn poorly in box 6 which doesn’t help our chances and he can’t afford to make any mistakes, but we are hopeful he can get to the final and draw a box."
Tom Dailly (Co-Trainer of Jordan Allen) – "He has drawn nicely, but he has his work cut out for him in this grade. Paw Licking should jump straight on the bunny and win easy."
Sam Bonaccurso (Trainer of Whodat Knockin) – "Having Paw Licking drawn his outside doesn’t help and he will need to jump at his very very best to get with them early. Paw Licking and Innocent Til are both 25 second dogs, which my dog is on ability, but he can’t afford to be getting caught up with them early."
RACE 7 - MEGA MERCH BALLARAT CUP HEAT 3 - 9:01PM
The third heat sees the return to racing of the Ken Virtue trained Banjo Boy after his sensational scratching at the hands of the stewards on Melbourne Cup Heat night. He certainly won’t have his own way in the race, with Whata Good Size having the potential to run very fast times.
Tom Dailly (Co-Trainer of Empire Allen and Dyna Beth) – "I love Empire Allen as a dog, he just tries his guts out. He is such an honest chaser that never gives up, but this is another hard heat with Banjo Boy and Thompson’s dog in the race. As for Dyna Beth, she will need to lead to win, and it’s a race with a lot of early speed. That will make it very hard for her, but she is racing very well."
Robbie Britton (Trainer of Skinny Vinnie) – "He is racing very well and has earnt the chance to compete in this series. But in saying that, these are FFA dogs of the highest calibre and he is up in grade again, he will need to jump and use box 1 to full advantage."
Ken Virtue (Trainer of Banjo Boy) - "It’s an extremely tough race. I’d rather race him over 500, and if the incident at the Melbourne Cup hadn’t occurred he would have headed for Albion Park. This isn’t the preferred option, but with everything that’s going on with the dog, it’s the best option currently."
RACE 8 - MEGA MERCH BALLARAT CUP HEAT 4 - 9:18PM
Just like Paw Licking in an earlier heat, Ronan Izmir steps out with the chance to win a 50k bonus for winning three country cups in the one year. He looks to have a mortgage on the race from box 1 with known wide runners drawn directly on his outside in boxes 2 and 3. If there was a potential spanner in the works, it could come from the Darren Brown trained Magic Diva, who can show scintillating early pace in her races.
Wayne Vassallo (Trainer of Vapourash) - "Look, he’s going well, but it’s going to very hard to beat Ronan Izmir. He is some sort of chance, but has struck one of the toughest runners in the heats."
Michael Sigalas (Ronan Izmir) - "I’m confident he will win the heat as he has cover from wide runners in Hurunui Hitman and Belfort. Both of those run off and won’t cross him."
Robbie Britton (Trainer of Slater Hill) – "Similar to Skinny Vinnie, he has been racing well in lower grade and we thought we would give him a chance in the higher grade. He will find it tough in this heat."
Tom Dailly (Co-Trainer of Ollie Bale) – He needs to lead to win and I don’t think he can lead. So I don’t give him any chance.
RACE 9 - MEGA MERCH BALLARAT CUP HEAT 5 - 9:41PM
This is one of the more open heats on the program, with nearly every runner in the race a winning chance. Hawk Alone was a fantastic run last start to run third in the Melbourne Cup and he will be mighty hard to beat with clear running. Darren Brown’s National Time could make things interesting if he can show his customary early speed and chop Hawk Alone out at the start.
Darren McDonald (Trainer of Dark Warrior) - "I think he is my best chance, but they are very strong races. He is a good U-Turn dog who goes well at Ballarat; I think he will be competitive."
Tom Dailly (Co-Trainer of Osbourne Bale and Hawk Alone) – "Osbourne Bale will be suited by the Ballarat 450m and he gets out OK, but it’s a very hard race for him. Hawk Alone is as strong as a bull and with clear running from the guts he will be extremely hard to beat, I like his chances."
RACE 10 - MEGA MERCH BALLARAT CUP HEAT 6 - 9:58PM
Spud Regis looks a special in this race. He has electric early pace and loves box 1 and has found a race lacking the depth of some of the earlier heats. It’s hard to see the flying son of Bombastic Shiraz being beaten.
Tom Dailly (Co-Trainer of Spud Regis and Veyron Bale) – "Spud has drawn beautifully and if anywhere near his best he wins. We are very confident with him, definitely our best chance in the heats, he should win. Veyron Bale is a funny one, he ran a good race at Sandown last start, but he doesn’t get out very often. But if he happens to hit the ground running, which is 1 in 50, he is some sort of chance."
RACE 11 - MEGA MERCH BALLARAT CUP HEAT 7 - 10:20PM
This is another very open heat of the Cup, with a case to be made for every runner in the race. A lot will depend on the start of the race, with plenty of the runners capable of electric early splits. If Clone Your Own can get away with them early, his mid race speed will make him extremely hard to beat. The same can be said for Ride The Rails and Marcus Joe, who are both capable of amazing sectionals.
Robbie Britton (Trainer of Clone Your Own) - "Of all of my runners I’m hopeful that Clone Your Own can go well from the red. He has good prior form around the horseshoe tracks and providing he doesn’t duff the start, I give him a genuine chance."
Paul Westerveld (Owner of Gimme Fuel) - "He hurt his hock at Wenty Park in the semi final, but he did trial super over the short at Ballarat the other day. He is racing some good dogs in a nice field and tomorrow night is hopefully one more step in his career. The dog is certainly fast enough, but has to learn how to race; Magic Trance and Witch Magic have won it for us before, so hopefully he can be the third."
Tom Dailly (Co-Trainer of Dyna Deeksey and Prue Bale) – "His last two runs have been a little disappointing, prior to that he was going well and does like being off the track. Ride The Rails and Marcus Joe go good, but he is some sort of sneaky chance. Prue Bale is a really nice bitch and she has had a little let up and has drawn nicely, she should run well from out there and with her early pace she is a chance of crossing them."
Darren McDonald (Trainer of Fancy Amigo) - "He needs a little bit of luck, but will be around the mark. He is fairly consistent the dog and will give a good site. Earlier in the year he ran a really good second behind Kenny Virtue’s dog (Banjo Boy) over the Ballarat 450m, so the track suits and he has an each way chance."