The middle distance stars will be given their chance to shine tonight at Sandown Park, with six heats of the group two McKenna Memorial. With countless feature events staged for sprinters and a healthy handful for stayers, it is great to see an event for those dogs that cannot perform to their full potential over the shorts but find the gruelling staying journey too arduous.
GROUP TWO MCKENNA MEMORIAL HEAT ONE
Jason Thompson’s W.A Derby winner Boris Fields has come up with box three in the first heat and with a clean beginning he look’s hard to beat. The son of Knocka Norris is a powerful greyhound over the sprint distance and should thrive with the step up to 595 metres. The white and blue dog has won thirteen races throughout his 32 start career, with many of those starts in elite group company. Whilst he does not have a great deal of early toe, he has a moderate beginner on his inside and should get every chance.
General Destini is a litter brother to multiple group winning stayer Destini Fireball and should relish the extra distance. The son of Where’s Pedro has won 20 races and was a runner up in the group two Traralgon Cup two starts back. Although he is drawn out in box seven, he has enough early pace to be prominent and if he can find the lead he will be tough to run down.
Major League is a genuine stayer dropping back to the middle distance however that should not be a problem and from box one he has a good shot.
Darren McDonald’s Take It All has been racing well lately and has a personal best of 34.18 seconds over the track and distance. Box six is a concern but he has plenty of experience handling himself from a poor draw.
GROUP TWO MCKENNA MEMORIAL HEAT TWO
Proven Impala is the class runner of the second heat and is the one to beat despite being drawn in box five. The Joe Borg prepared bitch was the winner of the group one Rookie Rebel at The Meadows in February and has since gone on to race competitively in group races over the 700 metre distance. Proven Impala is versatile in that she can win when leading or coming from behind and she should be able to match motors with the rest of the field.
Michael Carter has a huge opinion of Corridor who has drawn well in box two. The son of Collision is well suited over the middle distance and has a handy record at Sandown with a win and two minors from four starts over the 595, with his win in a strong time of 34.24 seconds.
Bagget Bale is a sensationally bred greyhound by Go Wild Teddy out of Princess Bale, trained in Victoria by Andrea Dailly. The black speedster has won two races over the distance at Sandown with a fast 34.07 seconds to his name. Whilst he is a backmarker and drawn out wide in box seven, if he can avoid early trouble, he will definitely be swooping late.
Newfire Riley is a smart stayer drawn in the cherry. He has a good record over the track and distance and has been unlucky in recent runs so is more than capable of bouncing back in this event.
Immy Rose is a handy front running bitch who makes her own luck and could pinch it if she can set up a good break on the field.
GROUP TWO MCKENNA MEMORIAL HEAT THREE
Paul Stuart has made the long trip to Victoria with the brilliant Dyna Nalin who will be looking for victory at his debut over the track and distance. Box six is not ideal under any circumstances but if there was ever a dog who could overcome the dismal draw it is this bloke. He boasts an impeccable record of 20 wins and five minors from 30 starts and is as strong and honest as they come and will only need a bit of luck at box rise to feature.
Set To Shine is a promising NSW stayer entering the series after three dominant wins at Richmond and Wentworth Park (42.01, 42.34, 42.68 seconds) The daughter of Mandagery Man likes to lead, and will give plenty of cheek out in front if given the chance.
Surf Mail is undefeated over the 595 after two attempts for trainer Darren McDonald. The light fawn three year old has been winning impressively over the sprint trip of late and should flourish with the step back up in distance. Box three is ideal for him to sit behind the leader and run home strong.
Cornelius Fudge is a good young dog, yet to win over the track and distance but is always thereabouts and should not be left out, much the same as Bing Gordyn who has won his last two over the middle distance in an identical time (34.65 seconds).
GROUP TWO MCKENNA MEMORIAL HEAT FOUR
Sandra Collins’ Cintiarna will be looking to redeem herself after a close second last start behind Bing Gordyn. The group winning bitch has a stack of ability and looks suited by the rise in distance where she has recorded a slick 34.20 seconds win two starts back. With 20 victories under her belt, the daughter of Bombastic Shiraz should be able to handle box four and is the one to beat.
Calm Model will be making her debut in Victoria from the rails box. The 24 kilogram lightweight is by Collision out of Clay Model and has won her last four starts in great fashion. Last month, the red brindle bitch claimed the $20,000 Richmond Oaks followed by two fantastic wins over the middle distance at Unibet Gardens (34.86, 34.49 seconds). Calm Model appears to have improved her box manners which will definitely help in this event where she will face her acid test against some serious competition.
Fancy Liza is another NSW prospect who has had no luck in her recent starts. The Brett Lee bitch does not have much pace early and has been finding all sorts of trouble racing in group company. Despite her lack of early zip, she is a great little stayer who took out the Group One Association Cup at Wentworth Park in April. From box three she will be hoping to avoid interference when the outside runners cross over to the rails and although stepping back in distance she still has the class to be a threat.
The third NSW chaser in the event is Where’s Keroma in box five for Anthony Azzopardi. The white and blue fawn dog has a stack of ability but can be hard to pick as he mixes his box manners. Nonetheless he has been racing well over the longer distance at Wentworth Park and should be included in the multiples.
New Tibur for Robert Britton has to contend with box six, but has won his last three starts, all at Sandown including a last start 34.26 seconds triumph.
GROUP TWO MCKENNA MEMORIAL HEAT FIVE
Super stayer Destini Fireball will jump in heat five from box seven. The classy greyhound has won 22 races with over $440,000 in prizemoney accumulated in his 41 start career. The 37 kilogram powerhouse stepped back down to the 595 metre trip last start when an unlucky fourth behind Bing Gordyn. Destini Fireball has a strong record from out wide and is the main contender in his heat.
Zelemar Fever looks a threat, returning from a stint in W.A where she placed fifth in the Oaks at Cannington last start. Before that, the daughter of Bombastic Shiraz had qualified in a scintillating 30.23 seconds and based on that form she should run a good race from box four.
Set Sail South has had two runs over the track and distance for two wins and moves out to box eight this week. Trained by Angela Langton, the black dog showed tenacity last start when overcoming trouble and interference to land victory in 34.72 seconds. Whilst the time was not overly impressive, he showed great promise in the way he took out the event, and as such he is one of the main chances.
Lektra Angie is impeccably bred and well boxed in the two, with a good personal best over the distance (34.28 seconds). Although she has been mixing form lately, she is capable of running a handy race and causing an upset.
GROUP TWO MCKENNA MEMORIAL HEAT SIX
Graeme Bate’s Irma Bale looks the standout from box two in the final heat. From the draw she should be able to bounce to the lead, and from there she won’t get caught. The front running stayer claimed her second Sandown Cup in May and has started twice since then for a second and a fifth. The Batrim Bale bitch should be winning this, with the 595 trip the perfect distance for her to shine.
Amadeus Strikes is a strong and ultra-consistent NSW bitch who has won her last two starts at Wentworth Park in sensational times (29.77, 29.79 seconds). From box five she may find it a bit tricky but is definitely one of the biggest threats to Irma Bale as a proven chaser over the middle distance, claiming a heat of the Big Dog Cup in 35.18 seconds.
Aeroplane Eddie is an emerging talent with eight wins and four minors from fourteen starts. The son of Velocette is a middle distance specialist and should be storming home from box seven.
Magnum Blast has been doing a lot of travelling of late and has been racing well against some tough company. From box three he is not without a chance.
The first heat of the group two McKenna Memorial will jump tonight at 7:25pm, with next week’s final offering $40,000 to one talented greyhound and some happy connections.