Five greyhounds from five different kennels secured their right to compete in the $500,000 Group 1 Melbourne Cup heats following their respective wins in tonight’s opening Cup Prelude series at Sandown Park tonight.
On an action packed night of chasing, three-time Melbourne Cup winning trainer Graeme Bate quinellaed the opening Prelude with Brenna Bale defeating Gus Bale by three lengths in 29.68 seconds.
Brenna Bale ($3.30) has found a rich vein of form of late, winning her fourth race in six starts, and 14th in 35 starts overall. She has developed an affinity with Sandown Park, having now won six of 15 starts at the Lightwood Road venue and being placed in five others.
The reigning Australian Greyhound Racing Association Trainer of the Year, Bate has prepared more than 30 Melbourne Cup finalists throughout his distinguished career, and will again hold a strong hand on Melbourne Cup heats night on Thursday 15 November.
Robert Britton’s amazing hot streak continued in the following race when the enigmatic Czar defeated Mepunga Melachi by 2.75 lengths.
Czar ($11.90) recently won three races over the middle distances, but showed he was still a sprinter to be reckoned with, stopping the clock in 29.68 seconds.
Big Black Mac took out the third Prelude, leading all of the way to win in 29.59 seconds for 2011 Melbourne Cup winning trainer Andrea Dailly.
From the same litter as recent South Australian Derby winner Spud Regis, Big Black Mac showed he also has a bright future, improving his record to five wins from just 10 starts and is now likely to join his littermate in next week’s Group 1 Adelaide Cup heats.
While Geelong based trainers dominated the first three Preludes, the Cranbourne based trainers soon came to the fore with Jim Redenbach’s Coolan Miss proving too good in the fourth Prelude.
Coolan Miss ($4.50) broke a run of 11 outs with a win last week at Sandown Park, and backed up that performance with a powerful finish to defeat Carol Allen by a length in the fastest time of the night, 29.48 seconds.
Paua Of Darkness, which ran second to Coolan Miss last week, won the following Prelude in 29.71 seconds.
The daughter of four time Group 1 winner and Sandown sweetheart Paua To Burn, Paua Of Darkness ($4.30) took full advantage of box 1 to defeat Premier Boloney by a head in a thrilling run to the line. Paua Of Darkness is racing in career best form for trainer Kel Greenough, having now won three of his past five starts and been placed in the other two.
Interestingly, 11 different trainers and 12 different owners won races on the night, including Colac trainer Lorraine Harrowfield whose greyhound Flash Fizz gave Harrowfield her first city winner after taking out the first race of the night. Flash Fizz qualified for the race after he ran third on the previous Sunday’s heat before claiming the $6260 first prize tonight.
Each Melbourne Cup Prelude winner is assured a start in the heats of the world’s greatest greyhound race, the $500,000 Group 1 Melbourne Cup.
The next Melbourne Cup Prelude Series will be run on Thursday 11 October, with the Group 1 Melbourne Cup final to be run on Thursday 22 November.