Greyhound racing’s new pin up chaser Fabregas chalked up the biggest win of his burgeoning career at Sandown Park tonight, defeating a star studded field to annex the Victorian final of the National Sprint Championship.
Beginning only fairly from box 5, Fabregas ($4.20) soon mustered speed to lead clearly through the first turn. From there, his dazzling turn of foot helped him establish a four length break over the field down the back straight and maintained that margin to the line to defeat Sapporo by 4.25 lengths in 29.49 seconds.
The win was the biggest of trainer David Hirst’s career. The 23 year old from Cranbourne has only been training greyhounds for eight months, and was humbled to have such an outstanding greyhound in his care.
“It’s a dream come true to get a greyhound as good as this so early in my career. It’s hard to put into words, I’m over the moon,” said Hirst after the race.
“He didn’t step brilliantly, but once he hits the ground he just goes. His midrace pace is phenomenal – he puts four or five (lengths) on them pretty quickly and they just can’t reel him in.”
Fabregas remains undefeated at Sandown Park after eight starts and has now won 11 of his 12 career starts. The $12,000 first prize took his career earnings beyond $50,000, and earned Fabregas the right to represent Victoria in the Grand Final of the National Sprint Championship in Hobart on Saturday 25 August.
The National Sprint Championship is one of the most prestigious events on the greyhound racing calendar, comprising the winner of each state’s series as well as the top ranked greyhound in the country.
Despite the pressure that comes with racing on the big stage, Hirst remains grounded and focussed on the task at hand.
“Any group race is a big race,” he said.
“We’ll trial next Thursday night, and hopefully we can draw a good box (for the Grand Final) – if we can draw the pink we’ll be happy.”
Fabregas’s owner Paul Westerveld is no stranger to a fast greyhound, having owned, bred and trained many Group race winners. However, Westerveld believes that Fabregas could be his best yet – a telling statement from a kennel that has produced champions including Meticulous, Path To Power, Star Witch and Dance Portrait.
“I’m rapt,” he said.
“I can’t believe that such a young dog can step up against dogs of that class and come through every week the way he has been. It’s very rare for a dog of his age (22 months).
“From the time he broke in no matter what we put him with he beat. We’ve put him with some very good dogs and even in two out trials as a pup he was that much faster than them it’s scary.”
And in an ominous sign for his rivals, Westerveld also believes the 36kg speedster’s best racing is ahead of him.”
“He’s by Bombastic Shiraz and they usually hit their peak at around two and a half to three years of age.
Fabregas will attempt to become the first Victorian greyhound to win the National Sprint Championship since Pure Octane, trained by Westerveld’s next door neighbour Darren McDonald, won at Wentworth Park in 2005.
The 2012 Nationals will be the first run in Hobart since 1987.