IT’S the first day of 2015 and what better way to start the year than backing some winners at Sandown tonight!
Race 11: Caustic Bale
Race 5: Frank Furter
Leg 1: 1,3,4,5,6 – Leg 2: 2,6,7,8 – Leg 3: 3 – Leg 4: 1,2,5,6,7
$100 for 100%
1st: $5,000 2nd: $1,430 3rd: $720 GOBIS: $1,000.
Cadillac Style is a member of a strong kennel and he caught the eye when winning here last week in 30.10. On that occasion he missed the kick but he mustered speed at a great rate and he assumed control mid race, if he can step cleanly tonight he should be able to lead early and I would expect him to go a lot faster on the clock.
Broadway Miss was airborne early in her sizzling 29.55 heat win and if she turns in a similar effort tonight she will figure prominently again. There isn’t a lot of speed drawn on either side so if she steps on terms she should get plenty of room to drive through and put herself in a commanding position.
Ringer was far from disgraced in his debut placing here and he is a member of a promising litter. He was very well supported on debut so I’m guessing he has a fair amount of talent and he should be able to improve on his debut run.
Gaucho rounds out the chances, he looks well placed in the pink draw and he hit the line in an impressive manner when scoring here last week in 29.88. He copped a knock soon after box rise so I would expect him to maybe go a little quicker on the clock tonight if he is given a clear run.
Top Four: 4 – 6 – 5 – 8
Boxed Quinella: 4,5,6,8 ($6 for 100%)
Trifecta: 4/5,6,8/Field ($18 for 100%)
Exacta: 4,5,6/4,5,6,8 (9 for 100%)
1st: $5,000 2nd: $1,430 3rd: $720.
Hashtag Selfie is racing in consistent fashion and he has been placed in five of six runs here with two of those efforts being victories. Last time out she pinged the lids and went past the first marker in a zippy 5.05, with slow beginners drawn on either side she should be able to assume control soon after the start and it’s hard to see her getting reeled in when going sub 29.50 on the bunny.
Axis Bale is much better than his recent form reads and he should get a nice cart across as they head into the first turn, he is lacking a little confidence at present but he has won here previously in a blistering 29.31.
Jayney Bale has the class edge and she will be steaming home at the end, she does rely heavily on luck in her races but if she can find the rail without too much bother she should be able to make an impact.
Dyna Tony could be the value in the event, he isn’t overly strong but he does possess smart early speed and he could run a cheeky race at nice odds.
Top Four: 7 – 8 – 4 – 5
Quinella: 4,5,7,8 ($6 for 100%)
Exacta: 7,8/4,5,7,8 ($6 for 100%)
Trifecta: 7/4,5,8/Field ($18 for 100%)
1st: $5,000 2nd: $1,430 3rd: $720.
Sisco Rage is racing in career best form at present and he appears drawn to get the cash. Last time out he sizzled early before scoring at The Meadows in 34.39 and if he can show similar speed tonight he should be running time over this shorter trip. He has been placed in five of eight over this journey and most of those efforts have been in much stronger company.
Summer Wages is another who is racing well and he was far from disgraced when placed at Warragul last time. He tends to save his best for this track, so if he can getaway well he should be able to drive to the early lead and he should give Sisco Rage something to catch.
Bayman Bale has the good draw and if he can settle in the top three early he should run a big race, he can be hard to follow at times but he is capable of running time when he lands on the bunny.
Xtreme Gretel is a former American chaser and she should be ready to fire after two runs from a spell, she is a member of an in form kennel and she must be respected at odds.
Top Four: 8 – 5 – 1 – 4
Exacta: 1,5,8/1,4,5,8 ($9 for 100%)
Quinella: 8 to rove with 1,4,5 ($3 for 100%)
Trifecta: 8/1,4,5/Field ($18 for 100%)
1st: $5,750 2nd: $1,645 3rd: $830.
Full On Bling is a super fast talent and he scored a devastating 33.92 win here last Sunday. Last week he had the advantage of the red but he is blessed with good track sense and he should be able to overcome a couple of difficulties early in the race. With a heap of speed drawn in six he should get a nice cart across in the early stages and if he settles in the first three I can’t see them holding him out.
Diva’s Shadow is a reliable beginner and she should lead them up for a long way. She made her debut over this journey last start and she got a little tired up the home straight but she should be able to derive a lot of benefit from that run.
My Jack Rabbit has been racing in strong company recently and he looks well placed in the pink, if he can settle in the top two early he should be able to make a big impact. He has won two of five here and he does hold an impressive 34.24 PB.
My Name’s Jessie rounds out the chances, she finally returned to the winners list last time but with the rise in class tonight I think place claims look best.
Top Four: 7 – 6 – 8 – 2
Exacta: 6,7,8/2,6,7,8 ($9 for 100%)
Trifecta: 7/2,6,8/Field ($15 for 100%)
Trifecta: 6,7/6,7/Field ($10 for 100%)
Quinella: 7 to rove with 2,6,8 ($3 for 100%)
1st: $5,000 2nd: $1,430 3rd: $720.
Frank Furter is flying at present and his effort to score at Sale last time in a blistering 24.79 was super impressive. He is normally a very reliable beginner and he has proven in his career to date that he is capable of reeling off very quick sectionals when he lands on the bunny. He has a bit of speed drawn underneath him but as long as he doesn’t crash to the fence too early he should be able to burn Dark Jameson off.
Eyeful Of Bling is blessed with amazing talent but he can be a little unreliable at times, like Frank Furter, he was a sizzling Sale winner last time out in 24.72 and a similar performance tonight would see him prove hard to beat. He can bomb the start at times but if he gets away tonight he should play a major role.
Hello Good Bye is a former star chaser and he is still going ok, he should be able to follow Frank Furter across early and if he can settle in the first half he should figure prominently.
Zipping Ryan is the up and comer in the event, he set the track alight at Bendigo three starts back when winning in 23.60 and if he pings away he could cause a minor upset.
Top Four: 4 – 1 – 5 – 6
Boxed Quinella: 1,4,5,6 ($6 for 100%)
Exacta: 1,4,5/1,4,5,6 ($9 for 100%)
Trifecta: 4/1,5,6/Field ($18 for 100%)
Trifecta: 1,4,5/1,4,5,6/1,3,4,5,6,7 ($36 for 100%)
1st: $5,000 2nd: $1,430 3rd: $720.
Good race and I think the improving Crackerjack Max can return to the winners list. In December he posted three brilliant wins on the trot and on each occasion he showed a good turn of foot soon after box rise and he assumed command not long after the start. Last time out he was no match for super star chaser Dyna Villa and he really should appreciate the drop in class tonight.
Bad Boy Sniper is a gun NSW speedster and he recently trialled at The Meadows in a sizzling 29.83, he is better suited to a rails draw but if he can get away cleanly he should be able to follow Crackerjack Max across into the first bend.
High Class is aiming for a hat trick of wins and her last start victory here was in a super 29.47, she is a better chaser when on the bunny and her 5.21 first section last time is a bit of a concern. I dont think she can win tonight but she must be included in your exotics.
Ruffonic is the interesting runner, he has an enormous amount of ability but he can be very unreliable, he has his draw tonight and if he puts it altogether he will run a big race at odds.
Top Four: 6 – 7 – 2 – 8
Boxed Quinella: 2,6,7,8 ($6 for 100%)
Trifecta: 6,7,8/2,6,7,8/2,3,4,6,7,8 ($36 for 100%)
1st: $5,000 2nd: $1,430 3rd: $720.
Weblec Rose was desperately unlucky in the Laurels final last time out and she will be looking to make amends. Prior to that she did post a slick 29.39 win here and on that occasion she made the classy Lamia Bale look like a grade 5 chaser. If she can repeat her scintillating 4.93 to the first marker she should be able to lead again and it’s hard to see them getting near her.
Lektra Hawk could be the value in the race, I’m a big fan of his and if he can step a little better tonight he will run a big race at odds. He has won here previously in 29.50 and he will be powering to the line.
Ima Fairytale is racing in great form and she caught the eye in her slick 34.35 Meadows win last time out, she can be hit or miss early but if she can settle in the first half of the field she will be there at the end.
Rumbling Rick is a class act when on song and he returned to form two runs back when scoring at Ballarat in 25.23, he will need to lead to win but he can show great early speed when given room in the first 50m.
Top Four: 3 – 7 – 4 – 2
Quinella: 3 to rove with 2,4,7 ($3 for 100%)
Exacta: 3,7/2,3,4,7 ($6 for 100%)
Trifecta: 3/2,4,7/Field ($18 for 100%)
1st: $6,260 2nd: $1,790 3rd: $890.
Very open race but I think the old timer Buckle Up Mason can get the job done. Two starts back he showed a return to form when he matched motors with Musquin Bale for most of the trip here and if he can step cleanly he should sit outside of Dyna Nico for most of the trip and I would expect him to prove too strong in the run home.
Walt Bale is going to be a gun stayer in the future and although he lacks experience I think he can make an impact in this event, he is likely to settle back in the field but he has great track sense and he will be steaming home at the end.
Dyna Nihilist was a little disappointing last time but when he is switched on he is an absolute beast. If he can avoid bother in the first 50m he should make a strong move mid race and he will give them a fright as they turn for home.
Maximum Lil is the only other chance, she is hit or miss early but when she pings she is capable of running ridiculous times.
Top Four: 6 – 2 – 7 – 5
Trifecta: 5,6,7/2/Field ($18 for 100%)
Trifecta: 5,6,7/Field/2 ($18 for 100%)
Quinella: 6 to rove with 2,5,7 ($3 for 100%)
Exacta: 5,6,7/2,5,6,7 ($9 for 100%)
1st: $6,120 2nd: $1,750 3rd: $875.
Star Recall is absolutely airborne at present and from the red it’s hard to see her being headed in this event. She should be able to pounce on the early lead and she will be reeling off blistering sectionals on the bunny. Last time out she captured the Sale Cup final and at the short odds I think its best just to anchor her up front in your exotic bets.
Quasi Bale stepped up in distance last time and he looked ultra impressive in his 34.39 Meadows win, I think Star Recall will have too much early burn for him but he should sit a couple of lengths behind her and he won’t be too far away at the end.
Come On Fantasy continues to excel over this distance range and she should run a cheeky race again, with the empty draw on her outside she should get a clear run and there shouldn’t be too many excuses.
Top Four: 1 – 8 – 4 – 6
Trifecta: 1/4,6,8/Field ($15 for 100%)
Exacta: 1,8/1,4,6,8 ($6 for 100%)
Quinella: 1 to rove with 4,6,8 ($3 for 100%)
Trifecta: 1/8/Field ($5 for 100%)
1st: $5,000 2nd: $1,430 3rd: $720.
One Dee is a lid pinger and she led for a long way when placed here last time behind the in form Spring Leaf. She isn’t overly strong but I’m expecting her to find the bunny in the early stages again and if they shuffle up behind her she may just steal the prize.
Clash Of Kings is a class act and if he gets a few breaks in the early stages he will take a power of beating. He is better suited to a rails draw but if given room to muster speed he should be outside One Dee at the first turn and he should put her to the sword as they head for the back straight. He really does have panels on this lot but I’m a bit concerned about the box draw.
Earl Bale is showing some promise and he appears to be getting stronger with every run, he doesn’t have much speed drawn around him so with a clean getaway he should get every chance to settle in the top two or three early.
Dyna Geldof rounds out the chances, he doesn’t win often these days but he has the good draw and he is never far away in this company.
Top Four: 6 – 8 – 3 – 1
Trifecta: 3,6,8/1,3,6,8/1,3,4,6,7,8 ($36 for 100%)
Exacta: 3,6,8/1,3,6,8 ($9 for 100%)
Quinella: 6 to rove with 1,3,8 ($3 for 100%)
1st: $5,000 2nd: $1,430 3rd: $720.
Caustic Bale is the real deal and with a clear run it will be interesting to see what time he can put on the board. Tonight he has the luxury of slow beginners being drawn on either side, so if he can step on terms he should be allowed to show his devastating turn of foot and I would expect him to burn them off as they head through the bend.
Blue Giant has a big engine but I would prefer him from a wider draw, four starts back he was placed in the Ballarat Cup final and he followed that effort up with a top placing behind Keybow at The Meadows in sizzling time. If he can get some room to move through the first bend he should make a big impact.
Dyna Zod has the speed to lead and he could give a great sight, I dont think he can hold on but he must be included in your exotic bets.
Hailstorm Billy is another for the exotics, he has a top record here and this race is a little easier in overall depth to what he has been facing in recent times.
Top Four: 7 – 1 – 3 – 8
Boxed Quinella: 1,3,7,8 ($6 for 100%)
Exacta: 1,3,7/1,3,7,8 ($9 for 100%)
Trifecta: 7/1,3,8/Field ($18 for 100%)
1st: $5,000 2nd: $1,430 3rd: $720.
Spring Leaf is currently flying and with a good getaway tonight she should be able to make every post a winner. Three starts back she reeled off impressive sectionals when winning here in 29.37 and a repeat of that effort would see her win with ease tonight.
Usain I’m Nutty is probably going to be a nice stayer in the future and at present he showing plenty over the shorter journey’s. Two starts back he really caught the eye when placed behind Dyna Villa at The Meadows and on that occasion his personal time was sub 30 seconds.
Mepunga Moss is hit or miss early but she loves racing here and when she pings she is capable of running some serious time. She is lacking confidence at present but if she finds the bunny early she might just keep going.
Dyna Chaser rounds out the chances, he is never far away in this company and he only needs a few breaks in the early stages.
Top Four: 6 -5 – 1 – 3
Boxed Quinella: 1,3,5,6 ($6 for 100%)
Exacta: 5,6/1,3,5,6 ($6 for 100%)
Trifecta: 6/1,3,5/Field ($18 for 100%)
Lamia Bale recorded her second Group victory within the space of 10 days when she took out this afternoon’s Group Two Laurels Classic at Sandown Park.
Drawn in box six, the brindle daughter of High Earner and Maple Bale began well before being outpaced by the speedy Lady Ronray (7) who assumed the lead around the first turn.
As Lady Ronray crossed to the fence racing through the catching pen, Lamia Bale was checked and lost ground, but was still able to hold onto second ahead of Kerrigan Bale (4) racing down the back.
Despite setting up a sizeable break as she neared the home turn, Lady Ronray started to get a little weary, enabling the super strong Lamia Bale to hook to her outside turning for home and dash by her in the run to the line.
Lamia Bale scored by just over half a length at the finish in a quick 29.45. Lady Ronray held on for second while Kerrigan Bale ran third.
Trained by Steve Collins, Lamia Bale has now won 11 races from 35 starts with a further 11 minor placings. It was a remarkable effort from the 27.5 kilogram bitch which has faced the starter five times in the past 17 days.
On the fourth of December, Lamia Bale won a heat of the Group Three Sir John Dillon Memorial over 595 metres at Sandown Park. She then returned the following Sunday to register a win in her heat of the Laurels over the 515 metre sprint.
On the 11th, Lamia Bale returned to the middle distance to record a victory in the Group three feature, before running second in her Laurels semi- final three days later.
With seven days off to refuel her engine, Lamia Bale showed terrific speed and stamina today, stamping herself as one of the toughest and most consistent bitches in Australia.
Lady Ronray will be the sole NSW representative when she exits box seven in this Sunday’s Group Two Laurels Classic at Sandown Park.
Trained at Menangle Park by Ray Steele and owned by his wife Irena, Lady Ronray is one of the most promising bitches in the state, having faced the starter on 18 occasions resulting in 14 wins and three minor placings.
Lady Ronray qualified for Sunday’s $50,000 to the winner final when scoring an emphatic 29.58 victory in her semi-final last weekend. The win didn’t shock her trainer who was expecting to see improvement from the daughter of Cosmic Rumble and Ronray Disco, which had placed third in her heat the week prior.
“We were thrilled, she lived up to all our expectations”, Steele enthused, “she is a little pocket rocket”.
“I trialled her down there about ten days prior to the heats and she picked up a virus so we had to restrict her training until she got over it. She was probably a little bit underdone going into the heats but fortunately she was able to do enough to qualify for the semi final.”
Steele said his speedster is well suited in box seven this week, but will need to put her best paws forward to be in with a winning chance.
“I think it will suit her out there because she can come out really good off an outside draw.
“Her early speed is her best attribute but she will really need it on Sunday because there are seven other handy dogs in the race. She has got to use all of her early speed to be any chance.
“She is a beautiful box dog in Sydney and, although she came out alright last weekend, I do think she can begin a lot better than she did the other day.”
Lady Ronray’s competition includes a Jeff Britton trio in Weblec Belle (Box 1), Weblec Rose (Box 2) and Footluce Diva (Box 5) as well as three from the Wheeler Dynasty in Ousai Bale (Box 3), Kerrigan Bale (Box 4) and Lamia Bale (Box 6). Jamelia Twist (Box 8) rounds out the field for John Galea.
Steele said it would be an enormous thrill to take out a prestigious series, such as the Laurels, with a consistent performer like Lady Ronray.
“It would be sensational to win it, especially when you have got a little dog that tries like her.
“Even though the money is lovely it would just be nice to win for the dog, you would hate to see her get disappointed
“She just never stops amazing you with the times she can run and (winning) 14 out of 18 with three placings, they don’t come much better than that.”
Steele, who has been training greyhounds since he was 19, says that the bonny black bitch has the potential to become the best greyhound he has ever trained.
“I have had some nice dogs over the years, I quinella’d the Nowra Puppy Classic with Tian Hao Lee and Tian Hao Miss for some overseas clients in 2009 and Ronray Lass, Lady Ronray’s grandmother, made the final of the Association Cup.
“But she is potentially the best one I have had, at this stage she is just a faultless little dog.
“I think when she ran 22.3 at Bulli was when I realised I had something special. I always knew she had ability but when she came out and ran a tenth outside of Barica Bale’s track record as a very young dog I knew she was going to be pretty good.”
Making her success even more significant is that Ray and Irena bred Ronray Miss. Her mother, Ronray Disco, was a modestly performed sprinter which did the majority of her racing in New Zealand before making the move to the breeding barn.
“We decided to breed from her (Ronray Disco) on recommendations from the trainer in New Zealand. She had brilliant early speed, like her daughter, and her brother could run 600 despite the fact that she could only run 350 metres.
“The rest is history. Her Magic Sprite litter was quite good but I think this litter is a little bit better and she has just had a litter to Swift Fancy.”
Steele said the fact that he bred Lady Ronray is also a massive factor in his decision not to sell her, despite some sizeable offers.
“I still have some offers in the pipeline but I am trying to put them to the back of my mind. Overseas are trying to buy her but I am not interested at this stage. We bred from her great-grandmother and have had all the generations down to her.
“It makes it even better when you have had them from day one. When you breed them, rear them, educate them and they come out and do this for you, it is very satisfying.”
Lady Ronray, which will celebrate her second birthday on Sunday, looks to have an exceptionally bright future and, as of next month, she will officially become a Victorian. Steele has made the decision to move South and is hoping Lady Ronray will continue to shine against the high class Victorian chasers.
“We are moving to Victoria so she will be doing all of her future racing in Melbourne after the end of January.
“I have bought a property in Moama, my daughter and grandchildren are around there, and I will be taking her brother, Ronray Spirit, he is quite a handy dog too.”
The Group Two Laurels Classic is race 8 at Sandown this Sunday and will jump at 4:17pm (VIC time).
The semi-finals of the Group Two Laurels Classic take place on Sunday afternoon at Sandown. There was plenty of action in last week’s heats with Mepunga Mia emerging as the fastest heat winner after a smart 29.35 run. She will feature in the first semi. The second semi-final will see Oakvale Destiny and Lamia Bale go head-to-head in what is sure to be a hotly contested race.
Here’s a look at the chances in each semi-final.
Semi-Final One – Group Two Laurels – Race 5 at 3:29pm
There’s a bit of speed drawn in this race. Lady Ronray (3), Mepunga Mia (4) and Jewel Action (5) all led their heats last week, running fast early sections. Diva’s Shadow (8) also clocked a quick section before getting shuffled back to finsih third.
Mepunga Mia comes into this semi as the fastest heat winner. She stopped the clock at 29.35 in her 1 1/4 length win over Benta Bale. She has three wins at Sandown and just needs a repeat of last week’s effort to make the final.
Lady Ronray led for a long way last week and ended up getting run down by Mepunga Treasure and Weblec Rose to finish third, just one length from the winner. She is drawn well in box three and can improve.
Jewel Action (5) is an each way chance. She just keeps on improving at Sandown and is knocking on the door.
Ousai Bale (7) led all the way at odds of 30/1 in the second heat last week. She is not normally noted for her early speed and prior to that she had a run of outs recently, finishing no better than fourth in her last six starts. She went 5.09 early and was never headed to stop the clock at 29.66 in her first win at Sandown.
Come On Fantasy (2) has the same draw as last week. She ran on well behind Oakvale Destiny. She may struggle to keep up with the speed early.
If there’s some interference up front then West On Delly (6) and Julie Bale (7) will be looking to pounce.
Semi-Final Two – Group Two Laurels – Race 6 at 3:49pm
There is a great match-up here between Lamia Bale (5) and Oakvale Destiny (3). Lamia Bale has been in red-hot form. She has now won her last three in a row and is fresh off a win in the Group Three Sir John Dillon Memorial at Sandown on Thursday night. She won her heat of the Laurels in a personal best of 29.37 and led all the way from box one. It will be a commendable effort to make a consecutive Group final in the space of a week.
Oakvale Destiny strode away for a 4 1/4 length victory in her heat. She overcame her usual slow start and a few bumps to score in 29.52. She is yet to win from box three and will always need luck early but she has class and knows how to make a Group final as she has been there plenty of times.
Satsuki Bale (8) went 5.01 last week but was lucky to sneak into the semi’s, finishing fourth behind Pud. She has failed to rack up a win at Sandown after four attempts.
Weblec Rose (4) chased hard to run-down Lady Ronray last week but narrowly missed out on defeating kennel-mate Mepunga Treasure. She only has the one win to her credit but she looked good last week and could surprise.
Semi-Final Three – Group Two Laurels – Race 7 at 4:04pm
Weblec Belle (1) continued her good run of form to back up from a win in the Group 3 Brian Johhstone at Angle Park to secure a heat win last week. She sat behind early leader Jewel Action and pounced turning for home to win comfortably by two lengths in 29.40. She is undefeated from box one.
Cosmic Owl (2) was also a heat-winner in 29.64. She defetaed Dyna Nico by half a length. She doesn’t have a load of speed early but is strong. She won at odds of 21/1 last week so she is likely to be in the double figures again.
Kerrigan Bale (8) was mid-field early but managed to run into the placings, finishing third to Cosmic Owl. She has had just one start from box eight for a win. She really needs to get to the front to show her best.
Hashtag Selfie (3) chased gallantly for second behind Ousai Bale last week, finishing just over 1 1/4 lengths behind the winner. She had box eight on that occasion. She has drawn closer to the fence this week and has won from box three.
Semi-Final Four – Group Two Laurels – Race 8 at 4:19pm
The two Foot Luce sisters were drawn next to each other last week and they are drawn next to each other again in the semi-final. Footluce Diva (1) moves to box one this week. She found trouble from box three last week, finishing third to Ousai Bale. She has an outstanding record from box one, racking up four wins in the red stretch vest. Her best is 29.35 and she is drawn to replicate that.
Oakvale Flyer (2) finished fourth in her heat behind Ousai Bale. She has only missed a place at Sandown three times from 13 starts. She is capable of leading.
Sizey 31.5kg bitch Pud (8) showed she could handle a rise in class, clocking 29.61 in a very gutsy effort. Pud copped some interference rounding the first turn but was able to keep pushing through and find a position on the rails. She then proceeded to push up underneath the leaders and emerge a 1 3/4 length heat winner. This will be her first go from box eight and it will be interesting to see how she handles it.
Mepunga Treasure (4) emerged victorious last week in a strong display from box one in 29.52. She is only lightly raced and is yet to show early pace in her races. She may find trouble from the draw.
The first two place-getters from each heat will contest the final on 21 December (Sunday).
Lamia Bale was ultra impressive at her first start over the middle distance last Thursday when claiming her heat of the Group Three Sir John Dillon Memorial in emphatic fashion.
Starting from box two, the Steve Collins trained bitch went straight to the front and was never headed, defeating Skyfire by six lengths in a hot 34.11.
Collins said that he didn’t have any doubt that Lamia Bale would run the extra trip, although the sizzling time posted was a surprise.
“I always thought she would make a middle distance dog because her mum was a good middle distance performer. I thought the 600s with her pace might be good”, Collins said.
“I didn’t really have any worries about her running the extra distance because she has been finishing off her races quite well (over 500), I thought she would get the last hundred.
“The time was a bit better than I thought she could run. I thought she would be about a 34.30 bitch so she has surprised me by going a couple of lengths quicker.”
Lamia Bale, a daughter of High Earner and Maple Bale, will start from an identical draw in this week’s final which Collins said should suit her. The Victorian mentor rates the inside runner, dual Group winner Awesome Project, as the dog to beat.
“She wants the middle of the track but I still think the draw will suit her because she can angle out on the corner. I think her and the one (Awesome Project) will be the frontrunners and I think she will probably make the race for him.
“She runs about three wide for most of the trip, so he has probably got the right draw on the inside of her. She will probably shepherd him away from the other dogs going into the corner, but it just depends on how he comes out and how she comes out.”
Thursday’s race will continue Lamia Bale’s busy preparation. After winning her heat of the Sir John Dillon last Thursday, the 27.5 kilogram chaser returned to Sandown over 515 metres on Sunday to contest a heat of the Group Two Laurels Classic.
Beginning well from box one, the brindle bitch was never behind another runner for the second time in a row, claiming her spot in the semi final round by 12 lengths in 29.37.
After competing in the Sir John Dillon this Thursday, Lamia Bale will return for her Laurels semi on Sunday where she will need to finish in the top two to qualify for Sunday week’s final.
Collins said it wasn’t his original intention to run in both series’, however he says his versatile performer is feeling as good as ever.
“I didn’t realise the Laurels was coming up on a Sunday”, Collins admitted.
“You only get one chance at the big races in the age group, so if I had of known the Laurels was on Sunday then she wouldn’t have been in on Thursday. It was an oversight by me, not realising it was on Sunday.”
“She has backed up beautifully and has worked the place down, I didn’t think she would have any problems. She is jumping out of her skin.
“She worked really good this morning (Tuesday) up the runs. We don’t normally do a lot with them when they are racing close together but if you don’t with her she doesn’t shut up. She loves her work.”
“She is as fit as I can get her and is probably feeling the best she has in a long time too.”
Lamia Bale is currently the star of Collins’ kennel after his multiple Group winning stayer, Dyna Willow, was recently retired.
Dyna Willow has since returned to owner/breeder Paul Wheeler’s property where she has been mated with Meticulous.
The Group Three Sir John Dillon Memorial is race six at Sandown this Thursday night and will jump at 8:50pm (VIC time).
Are the AGRA national ratings useful, or even true reflections of ability? Figures to the end of November are just out and that order will be pretty close to the final 2014 count.
They allocate points from first to eighth for all Group races – supervising Group racing is AGRA’s main purpose in life – but are otherwise unrestricted or unqualified.
Consequently, a Melbourne Cup winner and a maiden final winner get the same credit, just so long as they are Group races, meaning they pay a certain minimum amount of prize money. Running last in the Ipswich Maiden series still gains the dog a point. Other fields vary wildly in standards because the Group classifications are not earned but bought by the club responsible for allocating the cash.
They are also limited to what happens in a single calendar year, so performances for dogs which straddle two different years may not be represented accurately. Luck will also play a part, as when a prominent dog is off the scene with injury for a short while and misses a big race or two. Even more luck is needed in drawing a suitable box in each Group race. A string of 1s and 2s may well distort outcomes just as much as a succession of middle boxes.
Another measure – that of prize money – is equally problematical over time as inflation, changed priorities by clubs and the rise and fall of champion dogs all influence the figures. Being on top does not necessarily mean best.
Back to the actual AGRA rankings; please consider these oddities.
While Sweet It Is is fair enough in the #1 spot, what about Dyna Willow as the 9th best dog in the country? It did have a short winning patch earlier in the year, but against moderate opposition and in times which were just fair. It has done little since.
Queenslander Are Ate, a fair but not always consistent performer and not really top grade, gets the 20th place while the brilliant multi-winner Zipping Willow wallows in 53rd spot. Even sillier is that Zipping Willow shares that ranking with Gradence, an honest and consistent dog which runs a lot of placings and not much else.
Going down further, Queens Esther and Space Star share the 74th spot. The former has a few handy sprint wins at Wentworth Park, but has no great depth to its career. On the other hand, Space Star has busted two track records and done well against top level stayers at different times – including running hot times at Wentworth Park.
In other words, AGRA rankings are a misleading measure of the quality of the dogs. Something better is needed.
Neil Brown, Howard Ashton and the rest of the AGRA group have the right idea but need go no further than the gallops to see how better to do this job. Thoroughbred’s formal rankings are based on the quality, not the quantity, of performances. Here is their official guide.
“The ratings are compiled under the auspices of The International Federation of Horseracing Authorities (IFHA) by racing officials & handicappers representing the five continents who compile the ranking order by agreeing on the rating for each horse. The ratings are based on the performance of horses in elite races held during the designated period which takes in account the quality of opposition and achievements of each horse. Throughout the year the Longines Rankings are published at regular intervals and the consolidated annual rankings are released in January. The annual rankings denote the champions in the various distance categories for example sprint or mile, surface either turf or dirt/artificial and also the fillies & mares category”.
That may or may not be more detail than greyhounds need but the principle is indisputable. You want to know which one was the best, not just the one that was in the right place at the right time.
The other benefit of the thoroughbred-style rankings is that whatever position the horse earns will stay with it forever, making is easier to compare one generation with another. It also influences major clubs in organising fields for their peak events.
These sorts of guidelines would also help normalise AGRA’s breeding rankings – probably even more so than the racing stats. Restricting a sire or dam’s position to a single year makes little sense when performances of their progeny stretch over several years. In today’s annualised system a flash in the pan can come out on top in any one year.
As an aside, while Sweet It Is may well deserve top spot on any measure (primarily because it has run near record times at two tracks – Wentworth Park and Cannington), the uncertainty of racing is well illustrated by the fact that its supporters will never end up making a profit. As regularly advised here, its hit rate and the way it races mean that it is never better than an even money chance. Taking odds-on is a sure way to the poorhouse, as backers found out last Saturday in the Summer Cup at Wentworth Park. It started at $1.50 in NSW and $1.30 in Victoria and ran 6th. That was not bad luck, just bad odds.
No Stopping Victorian Stewards
At the Laurels heats at Sandown, 7 December.
“Ousai Bale crossed to the rail approaching the first turn, checking Reiko Bale, Photon Jewel, Footluce Diva, Oakvale Flyer and Fratelli Fresh”.
What a huge effort – one dog checking five others! The problem is it never happened. Ousai Bale did go across to the rail but never touched these other dogs, which were well clear of it from the start.
“Call Me Hank crossed to the rail soon after the start, checking Cool Mikado”.
That never happened either. Never touched.
Why do they bother?
Questions could also be asked of Racing Radio (NSW version). It failed to broadcast some or all of that Sandown Laurels meeting on Sunday afternoon. There appeared to be time available as they waffled on about other stuff and ran plenty of ads. The trots – a declining code and ranking well behind greyhounds – got plenty of coverage, though. On top of that, the station persists with AM frequencies in some areas, which is deadly in times of lightning and thunderstorm conditions, or at night.
Victorian syndicate manager Hays Bailey is sitting on cloud nine at present, having notched up his first Group One win on Saturday night with brilliant sprinter Lucy Lobster.
Bailey formed a syndicate with his fellow university students and friends, switching from horse racing to try their luck with greyhounds. After purchasing a moderate greyhound, the syndicate got the opportunity to purchase a regally bred chaser from successful breeder Charlie Lamb.
“I got in contact with Charlie (Lamb) and he had some really well bred pups by Brett Lee out of his good bitch One Tree Hill. We now have three other greyhounds we’ve purchased off him (Lamb) and hopefully they turn out as good as Lucy Lobster has,” said Bailey, who understandably was elated after Saturday night’s stunning victory.
“All of us were just hoping she would get through to the semi’s and then the final and it was so exciting to win that race with so many good dogs around her.”
Lucy Lobster stepped beautifully from box five and battled with Jewel Action for the lead, prevailing by half a length at the finish in a speedy time of 29.85.
“Every single week she jumps well and puts in so much effort. In the back straight when Jewel Action hit the front I thought maybe our chance to win was over.”
“To see her kick back at the finish was awesome and the whole syndicate celebrated at our favourite place; the Golden Century seafood restaurant in Chinatown.”
Fittingly her peculiar race name didn’t come from the syndicate’s traditional post race trip to a seafood restaurant in Sydney, but was the combined efforts of two owners.
“Me and one of the other owners were quite intoxicated and came up with her name in Sha Tin. I’m not sure where Lucy came from, however it just seemed to work with Lobster. We have a lot of similar names that we will use for our other dogs coming through.”
Saturday night not only provided the syndicate with their first ever group victory, but also their first city winner, a feat which has been a dream of Bailey’s for quite some time.
“I grew up going to the TAB in Melbourne and all I’ve ever wanted is a dog that could break 30-seconds at a metropolitan track.”
“I had so many people come up to me after the race offering their congratulations and that was really nice.”
Lucy Lobster also added another milestone to her already impressive resume on Saturday, cracking the $100,000 prizemoney barrier.
“I keep looking up her stats and it’s amazing to see her prizemoney go from $20,000 to over $100,000 in one week.”
The aptly named ‘Sweet Lady Punt’ syndicate will now turn their attention to Sandown Park, with Lucy set to take on some of the best greyhounds in Australia in the Group One Melbourne Cup. Astute Victorian trainer Robert Britton will put the polish on this talented chaser, who will be looking to secure her fifth straight win and tenth of her career.
“I will go and watch her trial at Sandown and hopefully she goes well. An inside box in this race would be nice, but she has such good early speed and hopefully can produce that in Victoria.”
“We will target the Laurels after this and possibly the Gosford Gold Cup and National Futurity. It’s really good we have so many race options for bitches only.”
Despite the fact that smart chaser Senor Slamma has won four races in succession, Leith trainer Gary Johnson is not overly confident that the greyhound can extend the winning streak in the $7,150 M A Morgan St Leger (461 metres), to be conducted at the HGRC meeting in Hobart on Thursday night.
“He is strictly a hit and miss greyhound and therefore has to be taken on trust,” he explained.
“If he flies the lids and leads he will take plenty of catching. But the game is over if he misses the kick because he just doesn’t like other greyhounds around him.”
Owner by Gary’s wife Robyn, the son of El Grand Senor was now won 13 races while accumulating a purse of almost $20,000 and can claim a pb of 25.88 on the Hobart circuit, which is considerably faster than his St Leger rivals and an indication of what he is capable of while high-balling in the premier position.
“I rate Gary Fahey’s greyhound Bruny Venture and Russell Watt’s Boston Heart as huge winning chances in the event, but in saying that it’s a classy field and virtually every runner has a chance,” Johnson concluded.
Meanwhile Kinloch Brae bitch Ireland’s Force will also be shooting for five wins on the trot when she contests the $7,150 Big Moose Laurels (461 metres), which will also be decided on Thursday night’s 11 event HGRC card.
An occupant of Russell Watt’s Moorleah kennel, she has impressed greatly in recent weeks, but will meet stiff opposition in the feature. The Laurels has also attracted a star-studded field, including the likes of the Ted Medhurst prepared Velocette bitch Lillycette.
Another bitch to have excelled this week in Tasmania is the topliner She’s All Class, who gave her rivals a galloping lesson in The Advocate Grade 3 (452 metres) conducted at Tuesday’s NWGRC meeting at the Devonport Raceway.
She was well supported in wagering on the event at a $1.80 quote and did not let her supporters down by flying the lids from the pink box to take up the running, before eventually scoring by three lengths in the time of 25.39.
Owned and prepared at Bishopsbourne by astute mentor David Crosswell, the daughter of Dyna Lachlan has now won 20 of 34 lifetime outings and accumulated a purse of almost $40,000, despite having had her career curtailed by serious injury and having a litter of pups.
Her elated owner-trainer declared her “a machine” after she won on Tuesday, which was only her second run back from the enforced spell.
“She had her toe off early in her career and then a sesamoid injury. Those things only ever happen to the good ones,” he declared.
Crosswell will map out a programme for She’s All Class, which may very well include tilts at the Devonport Cup and possibly the Hobart Thousand and is confidently predicting that one day she will make a great brood bitch.
“She will throw a champion one day, but she isn’t ready to retire yet. She’ll let me know when she is,” he said.
The Horsham and Temora Cup finals, run over the last weekend, produced two fairly rare occurrences: a track record in the former (Crump), and an equal track record in the latter (My Kinda Music). These performances followed on from the track record set in the February final of the Healesville Cup (Frosty Jay Jay).
Considering the number of major race finals conducted around the nation every year, and the number of major races which have been part of the national calendar, in some cases, for decades, it is perhaps surprising more track marks are not lowered in these events. After all, they’re supposed to attract the best talent in the country, at least as far as most Group One events are concerned, and the racing surfaces are generally ‘tricked’ up to produce fast times. Yet very few new track records are set.
The following is a list of major races down through the decades where the winner has set new track figures. I cannot claim this list is exhaustive and would appreciate anyone letting me know if I’ve missed any track record run in a major race.
At Angle Park the sprint record has fallen in the Adelaide Cup twice: in 2000 and 2001. The first was by Jack Junior, who ran the 515 metres at Angle Park in 29.32; followed by the sensational Brett Lee who scored by six lengths in a scintillating 28.88.
The Angle Park record also fell in 1975 when Bristol Sue won the South Australian Sprint Championship.
The 731 metres record at Angle Park went in the 2002 West End Draught Championship, won by Fly On Bonnie in 42.56.
The 2005 Brisbane Cup at Albion Park fell to the speedster Pororoca who downed Go Forever by just over nine lengths in 29.66.
The Perth Cup has only seen one track record in a final, by Kilby Supreme in 2004 when the Victorian ran 30.12 for the 530 metres at Cannington while the longer trip has only fallen in a West Australian Galaxy, in 2004, when Winter won in 41.57.
The 530-metre record also fell in the 1997 West Australian Derby, to Prince Of Tigers, in 30.52.
The Sandown sprint record, then 513 metres, was annexed by the brilliant NSW bitch Odious in 1975 when she won the Laurels by 10 lengths in 30.34.
Despite its lengthy history, the only time a Melbourne Cup final has seen a track record was when Hua scored in 1988, running 30.01.
The Topgun, although not a major race final, has witnessed two track records, the first by Rapid Hiker in 1995 who defeated the mighty Tenthill Doll by four lengths in a new Sandown record run of 29.80, while the second was in 2004 when Whisky Assassin sped over the course in 29.40 to win by nine lengths.
The Hobart Thousand is currently into its ninth decade but only twice has the prevailing track record gone under in a final. The first time was in 1973 when Sue’s A Credit ran 29.3 over the 500 metres on the old TCA ground; the second was in 1981 when NSW star Black Aztec won by six lengths in 28.40 over 497 metres.
The biggest major race which has witnessed the most track records in its time is the National Distance Championship. First run in 1969, the final has seen records fall in 1974 (Corcoran at Angle Park), 1978 (Dusty Ginny in Hobart), 2002 (Boomeroo at Albion Park), 2005 (Texas Gold at Wentworth Park), and 2006 (Bothing in Launceston).
The National Sprint Championship, on the other hand, has borne witness to only two record runs: 1979, Acclaim Star at Cannington and 2006 Immortal Love at Launceston.
The Launceston Cup is the only major event to have had three records at the same course in finals run at three different distances. The first was in 1973 when Mountain Rock ran 29.9 to equal the track record for 502 metres; then in 2002 Jeanie’s Queen scored by seven lengths over 522 metres in 30.36, and in 2013 Xylia Allen won by just over seven lengths in 29.09 for 515 metres.
The Launceston record also fell in 2011 when Damek won the Tasmanian State final of the National Sprint Championship in 29.94.
The Wentworth Park 520 metre track record last fell in a major race final in 2011 when Noble Pedro took out the Christmas Gift by just over nine lengths in 29.43.
Previously, Worth Doing had run 29.74 in taking out the 1988 Vic Peters Memorial Classic.
The Vic Peters Memorial, when run over 500 yards (457 metres) at Harold Park, had borne witness to future super sire Black Top equalling the track record of 26.4 in the 1962 final.
Its ‘bad age’ equivalent, the Vic Peters Bi-Annual Classic (now the Peter Mosman Memorial) saw Victorian speedster Satan’s Legend run a new record of 25.95 in 1978.
The 732 metres record at Harold Park only fell once in a major race, in 1984 when Shy Julie ran 42.67 to win the Summer Cup.
The Summer Cup of 1987 saw Sonic Wave run 42.09 to set a new record for 720 metres at the remodelled Wentworth Park.
The Sydney Cup, run on grass over 790 yards (722 metres) on the old Wentworth Park course, saw the great Zoom Top run 43.2 in the 1968 final.
The next time the distance record fell in a final was in 1978 when Cherrie Sepol flew over the course in 42.50 to win the Metropolitan Cup by 10 lengths.
In 2005, now run on sand over 720 metres, Royal Riddle equalled the track record of 42.07 in the Sydney Cup final, while two years later Miagi won by just over nine lengths in 42.03 to set new figures in the same event.
The Sandown Cup has seen the distance record fall just twice, first in 2004 to Proven Lethal (42.12) and then in 2011 Bobby Boucheau blazed over the circuit in 41.57.
Sandown’s 715-metre record fell further later that same year when Lady Arko won the Victorian State final of the National Distance Championship in 41.55 (Bobby Boucheau was fourth).
The Meadows 725-metre record has fallen just twice in major finals, the first time was in 2005 when Malfoy ran 42.34 to take out the Gleeson and Tonta, the second occasion was in 2008 when Mantra Lad scored in 42.28 to win the Victorian State final of the National Distance Championship.
The same year, Fallen Zorro ran 42.43 to take the Launceston 720 metres track mark in the Tasmanian State final of the National Distance Championship.
Perhaps the longest gap between track records in a major final is the Devonport Cup, with King’s Idea scoring in 1953 in a record 24. 9/16ths and 29 years later Wynlee Wonder ran 24.79 to set new figures.
In 1974, the Autumn Trophy final over 511 metres at the now-defunct Olympic Park saw track specialist Temlee score by 11 lengths in 29.67.
Records have also fallen or been equalled in races like the Bendigo Stayers Cup (2006, Turbo Uno), Canberra Cup (2008, Borat), Cranbourne Cup (2006, Pororoca), Darwin Cup (2009, Queen Lauryn), Gawler Gold Cup (1996, Grand Illusion), Geelong Cup (1997, Power Zone), Grafton Black and White Whisky Cup (1971, Gemini Todd; 1972, Topini Fire), Greyhound Recorder Trophy (1971, Petite Panther), Horsham Cup (2004, Brumby Lad and, of course, Crump this year), Lismore Cup (2003, Bogie Leigh), Maitland Cup (2007, Run The Risk), Nowra Puppy Classic (2007, Mountain Of Love; 2013 Ritza Hattie), Richmond Derby (2006, Cool Mat), Tamworth Cup (1974, Opal Sid), The Schweppes (2007, Buttsie Bale), and the Tweed Heads Galaxy (1988, Yannick; 1999, Mint Magic).
The Australian Cup carnival at The Meadows moves into full swing on Saturday, with eight heats of the 2014 Group One Australian Cup being conducted on a big night of racing that also includes the heats of the Super Stayer’s series.
The Australian Cup is one of the biggest Group One races on the racing calendar, with a whopping quarter of a million dollars going to the ultimate winner of the series. As it is, each heat winner this week will earn a cool $10,000.
Just the winner of each heat will go through to the final and the two fastest seconds will be reserves. There is no Black Magic Opal in the heats, but there are plenty of other Group race performers lining up for a tilt at the big prize such as Zelemar Fever, Dyna Nalin, Hawk Alone, Peter Rocket, Ollie Bale, Banjo Boy, Keybow, Kiss Me Ketut and the list goes on.
Here is a look at each heat.
Heat One – 2014 Group One Australian Cup – Race 2 at 7:38pm
Kiss Me Ketut (3) returns from a luckless fifth in the Temlee and has a suitable draw here. The box manners of the dog by Bombastic Shiraz – Spiral Siyan have not been at there best in recent weeks and they need to improve in order for Kiss Me Ketut to lead. If he doesn’t lead then he will have trouble winning.
Punch One Out (5) has drawn the squeeze box, but if she shows the pace she did in the Paws of Thunder series at Wentworth Park recently, then she is chance of overcoming the draw. The worrying factor is that she hasn’t won at The Meadows from two attempts.
Rocky Bale (7) won an Australian Cup preliminary race last week in 29.92 from box one. He has a good record from the draw with three wins from three starts. He will need a little room early to muster and with some luck is an each way chance.
Wise Ella (8) ran second behind Vapourash in an Australian Cup preliminary race last weekend and has two wins at The Meadows. She is a consistent beginner but she has not won from box eight. Angela Langton advised ARG during the Laurels series that Wise Ella is an inside box specialist.
Of the remaining Wheeler brigade, Liara Allen (2) has a perfect record from box two, and three wins at the track for a best of 30.09. Melbourne Cup place-getter Dyna Beth (1) doesn’t look suited by the draw, with none of her 11 career wins coming from the rails draw. Prue Bale (4) loves The Meadows and at her last appearance, which was from box four, she led all the way in 29.99 and ran a smart 5.03 first section.
The other runner in the race is NSW chaser Amadeus Strikes (6), who is a recent addition to Rob Britton’s Lara kennel. The black bitch by Bombastic Shiraz – Forgetful Lucy has had two starts in Victoria for a third at Geelong. Her NSW form includes 9 wins at Wentworth Park with a best of 29.70. The green rug hasn’t been a problem for her in the past as she possess a perfect record from the box.
Heat Two – 2014 Group One Australian Cup – Race 3 at 8:00pm
Temlee place-getter Peter Rocket (1) finally has a decent inside draw and he will be looking for his first win out of box one. His record from box two is outstanding with seven wins, but for some reason he has only ever placed out of box one. His run was eye catching in the Temlee last week and if he runs up to that, he is a big chance of making yet another group race final.
The 2013 Group One Maturity winner Marcus Joe (2) is drawn alongside Peter Rocket. He has not been performing at his best in the lead up to this race but if he puts his best paw forward he is capable of running some time, with 29.66 his personal best at the track.
Ollie Bale (8) won the Group One Silver Chief from this box at The Meadows earlier this year. However, since that race he has failed to rack up another win, although he did perform well over at Cannington during the Perth Cup series. He won’t be afforded any mistakes on Saturday night.
Deadly Vane (7) and Kid Maximus (6) were also finalists in the Silver Chief series. Deadly Vane had a short break after the Silver Chief series after changing hands for a large figure. Formerly trained by Joe Borg, he will be racing for Braden Finn for the first time. He has a great record at The Meadows, with four wins and is hit and miss at box rise, but if he gets it right he is in with a chance. Kid Maximus won his semi of the Silver Chief and finished second in the final. He hasn’t run a place since and is better suited drawn near the rails.
Magic Diva (3) is an excellent beginner who has won six of her last seven starts, with her last two wins coming over the 450 metre distance at Ballarat. She is yet to be tried over this trip at The Meadows so her strength over the closing stages of a 525 metre race is unknown. She has no wins over a distance greater than 500 metres recorded against her name.
Zipping Willow (5) is a NSW chaser trained by Jason Mackay. She flew around Canberra in 30.12 to win the Group Three Canberra Cup in 2013 and she has also recorded a fast 29.52 out of several wins at Wentworth Park. It’s her first start at The Meadows.
Buckle Up Mason (4) contends with the tricky box four draw. His recent form isn’t great and his last win came back in October 2013.
Heat Three – 2014 Group One Australian Cup – Race 5 at 8:38pm
Three Rookie Rebel finalists line up in the third heat. Rookie Rebel winner Hawk Alone (3), Daintree Emperor (4) and General Destini (5) are all boxed next to each other.
General Destini (5) showed good pace to lead the Rookie Rebel field last week and the drop back in distance suits. He is one of the more consistent dogs going around so he can’t be written off.
Hawk Alone (3) was able to begin well enough last week to slot in behind General Destini for much of the race. He collared him down the home straight to secure a strong win. Connections believe he is better suited over the 525 metre distance. He will be one dog that will be storming home.
Daintree Emperor (4) had no luck in the final and has just three wins at The Meadows from 12 looks at the track.
Empire Allen (7) won an Australian Cup preliminary race in 30.11 last week and has three wins at The Meadows. He will need to improve on that time if he is to win this heat.
Hallelujah Henry (1), from the Darren Mcdonald kennel, will appreciate the rails draw and he has won three from five at the track. He ran fourth behind the track record breaking Hooksy at Ballarat last week. His best time at The Meadows is 29.95.
Jewel Bale (6) looks to be one of the leaders. She is a fairly consistent beginner with two wins at the track and a best of 29.89. She has also won five of her last eight career starts.
Crawf’s Bread (2) hasn’t won from box two and is a bit risky at box rise. He has won four at The Meadows with his last win at the track coming in November 2013.
The talented NSW youngster Boyce Road (8) has his first start at The Meadows on Saturday. He has nine wins from 14 starts but he may find trouble early trying to get across the field. If he is anywhere near the lead, he will show what he is capable of, as he is very strong.
Heat Four – 2014 Group One Australian Cup – Race 6 at 8:57pm
Paw Licking (7) features in this heat. He finished second in the Temlee after breaking the second sectional record during the race. He has brilliant early speed (evidence by a 4.94 first section split last week) and with that 525 metre run under his belt he should be better for the run. If he pinches a break, there’s no doubt he is capable of winning through to the final.
Dark Warrior (6) is also capable of beginning well. He has been freshened since his win at The Meadows on 8 February. In that win, he led all the way from box seven, running 5.06 to the first mark and recording a best of 29.98. He is drawn inside Paw Licking so will need to get out well and avoid being crossed.
Perth Cup finalist High Recall (8) will be looking to give his owners, the Weston’s, another Group race finalist. He has eight wins from 12 starts and this will be the black bitch’s first run at The Meadows. She is an excellent beginner and will need to do everything right to be able to cross Paw Licking in the early stages.
Musquin Bale (2) has returned to form with two wins from his last two starts. He won here last week in an Australian Cup preliminary race in 30.05, bringing up his third win at The Meadows. He is yet to win from box two but has showed good box manners at his last two outings.
Of the others, Rozehill Sanya (5) is in a super kennel (Jason Thompson) and has won five of her last six. She is capable of leading and has recorded 29.89 from two wins at the track. Gold Town (4) is a strong finisher but is likely to be squeezed out in the early stages. Bazza’s Gift (3) is a consistent good beginner but is yet to win at The Meadows after four attempts. Blue Giant (1) has the coveted rails alley but he is a slow beginner and will have trouble in this field.
Heat Five – 2014 Group One Australian Cup – Race 7 at 9:20pm
This heat is littered with Group race performers. It features Farmor Las Vegas (1), Buckle Up Wes (6), Zelemar Fever (7) and Banjo Boy (8). Out of all those, it is Farmor Las Vegas that is boxed to perfection. The black dog by Knocka Norris – Farmor Cee You has won six times wearing the red rug and he is coming off a fast win at Horsham on the 11th of February. He has also recorded a fast 29.71 at the track.
Zelemar Fever (7) won the Temlee in impressive strong running fashion last week from a more suitable box two draw. Her record from outside boxes isn’t as good as the inside but if she is anywhere near the lead, she is strong enough to win. She ran a personal best of 29.87 last week.
Banjo Boy (8) also prefers the inside draw, but he has won three from box eight. If he stays out of trouble, he is certainly fast enough once he musters to be up among the leaders around the turn. If he has that little bit of early luck he is certainly a chance.
Buckle Up Wes (6) performs best when he leads and it will be interesting to see how he handles his first look at The Meadows. He missed out on making the final of the recent Launceston Cup but still ran the best time over the Cup distance on Cup night. He was also a place-getter in the Paws of Thunder final at Wentworth Park, where he ran very fast early sections. He has been a model of consistency and is a definite each way chance.
Veyron Bale (2) and Peloton Bale (3) have not been beginning well of late and with a lot of early pace in the race, may struggle to tack on in those all important early stages. Veyron Bale can show early speed when he wants but isn’t consistent.
Jordan Allen (4) won an Australian Cup preliminary race last week in 30.09. He is a good beginner with a 5.09 sectional recorded last week. He has three wins at the track for a best of 30.09. National Time (5) has just one win at the track and has mixed form in the lead up. The awkward box draw doesn’t help although he did record his only win from box five at The Meadows back in January and went 5.05 to the first mark.
Heat Six – 2014 Group One Australian Cup – Race 8 at 9:40pm
Dyna Nalin (1) is the big name in this race. The inside draw suits him and he has won from box one at The Meadows in 29.89. He didn’t begin well last week from box six in the Temlee final, but the return to the better box may assist in that respect. He is also very consistent at The Meadows.
Humphrey Bale (2) has taken a liking to The Meadows, winning four from nine, including an Australian Cup preliminary race last week. He led all the way last week from box three in 29.98 and has won his last two at The Meadows.
Vapourash (6) was a recent finalist in the Healesville Cup and picked up his third win at The Meadows last week in an Australian Cup preliminary race. He had this box last week, leading all the way in 29.98. He is approaching the tail end of his career but has been racing in good stead.
Cornelius Fudge (3) is a risky beginner who has managed a win at The Meadows and Sandown in last two performances. He hasn’t got the best early speed, only going 5.27 to the post the first time at his last start at the track. From three wins at the track, he has recorded a best time of 29.91.
Rose of Galo (4) is a recent addition to Victorian racing after being sent down from Queensland to Jason Thompson’s kennel. She has had just the one run at The Meadows for a third placing. She led the race, running 5.04 for the first section, but was run down by Speed Series.
Te Amo (5) is having her first run at the track for Western Australian trainer Linda Britton. She is a slick beginner and will need to lead to be a chance.
Purcell Bale (7) has a good record from box seven, winning five times. He has two wins at The Meadows including one on 1 February where he led all the way in 30.03 and recording a 5.02 first section. She stays under notice.
Nockabout Aussie (8) looks likely to struggle in this field but has won at The Meadows in 29.83.
Heat Seven – 2014 Group One Australian Cup – Race 9 at 9:58pm
2013 Laurels winner Ritza Hattie (2) struts her stuff for the first time at The Meadows. The draw is good for her and will hopefully improve her recent run of bad box manners. She only ran unplaced for the first time in her career two starts back and given her ability, she looks a chance on paper.
Spud Regis (5) hasn’t raced since the 25th of January, when he ran last at The Meadows. At his best, he recorded 29.63 at the track back in March 2013. He does his best work when leading and hopefully for connections, the freshen up helps him get out in front from the middle alley.
Zipping Brock (3) is the recent winner of the National Derby at The Gardens. He is the most inexperienced chaser in the field, facing the starter on just 10 occasions. He has been to The Meadows before and won in a moderate 30.52.
Recent Gosford Cup winner Awesome Project (4) is a relatively new addition to Darren McDonald’s kennels. He is a last start winner at Cannington during the recent Perth Cup series where he recorded a strong 30.46. He has won six of his last eight and is sure to be well schooled at The Meadows.
Hailstorm Billy (1) has been doing much of his recent racing over the longer 600 metre trip and has just the one win at The Meadows over the 525 metre distance, and is yet to record a win from box one.
Tick Bale (6) and Shadow Lane (7) may struggle from their respective unsuitable draws. Tick Bale won an Australian Cup prelimiary race last week in 30.00 from box one. He is generally only fairly away and will need some luck early. Shadow Lane is yet to win from box seven and is unlikely to do so in an Australian Cup heat.
Innocent Til (8) stays under notice. There’s no doubting his ability as he was an invitee to the Temlee. He finished last in that race from box seven after striking trouble. He doesn’t mind box eight as he has recorded five wins in the pink rug. He should get a clearer run with two moderate beginners on his inside.
Heat Eight – 2014 Group One Australian Cup – Race 10 at 10:20pm
Perth Cup winner Keybow (8) headlines the final heat of the evening. He will be wearing the pink for the first time in his career and looks better suited to an inside draw (he has won all five starts from box two). He needs some room in the first couple of strides to muster pace and will be assisted by the moderate beginner on his immediate inside (Clone Your Own). He is very strong and will be prominent in the closing stages if he doesn’t suffer interference early on.
Warragul Cup runner-up Evie’s Entity (1) is another one that will be finishing strongly. She hasn’t raced much at The Meadows (three times in her 49 start career), but ran second behind Dark Warrior back on the 8th of February. She is also suited by the rails alley, so keep her safe.
Tomac Bale (6) finished seventh in the Temlee last week and is searching for his first win since November 2013. He is a fast dog when everything goes his way, as evidenced by his personal best of 29.67. He just needs a little bit of fortune and some confidence to return to his winning ways.
Deadly Boy (2) won three in a row at The Meadows back in December 2013 and is well mannered at box rise. He is yet to win from box two and was held up numerous times in his third placing behind Dark Warrior at the track last start. He has the advantage of a slower beginner on his inside and that could mean he gets the advantage of a favoured rails run.
Dyna Ishaan (3) won an Australian Cup preliminary race last week in 30.17. His form has been a little bit patchy and he will need to run up to his best to steal this heat.
Allen Deed (4) had an unfortunate fall in the Perth Cup final at his most recent start and it will be interesting to see how he bounces back from that. He is a talented chaser with four wins at The Meadows and a best of 29.85.
Speed Series (5) is a good beginner and he will need to lead to factor, while Clone Your Own (7) will have to contend with box seven, a box that is not ideal for a moderate beginner in this class.
Don’t forget to tune in and watch the best dogs in Australia contest the heats of one of the biggest races on the Australian greyhound racing calendar.
Under normal circumstances, if you had a Victorian Greyhound of the Year finalist and two Group One starters in the space of a fortnight, it would be fair to assume that you had two greyhounds at the peak of their racing powers.
Lethbridge mentor Emilio “Norm” Rinaldi has had exactly that, but amazingly, both dogs are nearing four-years-of-age and are in the last preparations of their career. But then again, Rinaldi isn’t known for doing things in the most conventional of fashions.
This week ARG spoke to Rinaldi, not only about his two veteran group finalists, but about how he has built his own breeding empire and created a rare bloodline in the process.
Rinaldi has two litter-mates engaged in two of Australia’s biggest Group One events this Saturday night. General Destini will jump from box two in the Rookie Rebel over 600 metres, while Destini Fireball will exit box six in the the Zoom Top over 725 metres.
Both are from Rinaldi’s all-conquering Where’s Pedro – Greys Destiny litter, and Rinaldi is very pleased with his old-stagers.
“I’m very proud of them. They’re both coming up to four and they’re both still in there. This will probably be their last campaign, they’ll be going to stud after this.”
Destini Fireball was a finalist in the recently awarded Victorian Greyhound of the Year, won by Xylia Allen, and Rinaldi says he isn’t without hope in the Zoom Top.
“There is plenty of pace, but he’s drawn out wide and he does like it out there on the track. A few of them might stumble out a bit and get tangled up, you never know, fingers crossed we have a bit of luck. We will be in there trying, don’t worry about that.”
“He’s still capable, in Sydney (Summer Distance Plate) they gave him no hope but he lost by a nostril to Dyna Willow. That little bitch Dyna Willow, she is a tough campaigner, she’s a real up-and-comer.”
Rinaldi’s success didn’t just happen overnight, it was a combination of a quality idea, careful implementation and some good luck that has got him where he is today.
“I was in America, we were travelling around and we went to a lot of the different tracks. I was just amazed how strong the bitches were, some of them had a hundred starts and were still going strong, that is unheard of in Australia.”
“I said, wouldn’t it be good to bring home a good American bitch and breed her with Australian dogs and that’s what we did.”
But Rinaldi didn’t just import any old bitches either. He visited one of the most successful kennels in the United States, the Greymeadow operation, which was then run by Jack and Mary Butler. This led to Rinaldi owning both Greys Destiny and Greys Lemon Ice.
“We finished up at Mary Butler’s in Abilene, everyone said that’s the best place to go. She has got some terrific dogs. We got lucky, she doesn’t usually sell them. If they’re good enough to breed on with, she keeps them, if not she adopts them out as pets.”
“At that stage she had four or five different kennels across America in different states. We were just lucky she chose to sell to us.”
To maximise his opportunities, Rinaldi did not just rest on the laurels of importing quality out-cross blood. He also patronised some of the best blood that Australia had to offer, which could well be another major contributor the success of his first litters with the Americans.
Rinaldi has used stud dogs such as Where’s Pedro, Bombastic Shiraz, Brett Lee and Collision among others, and has also revisited some American sires as well.
“I always aim for the very best in the sires, and now I’m just starting to breed with the daughters. Grey’s Lemon Ice has just had a litter to Collision and Greys Destiny has had a second litter to Brett Lee. But her daughter Miss Abilene, she has just had a litter to Kelsos Fusileer (USA) and Xena (Destini Warrior) has just had eight pups to Collide.”
“So I’m mixing it up with the Australian and American lines. Naturally, if you talk to Americans, they say come back into the American lines and if you talk to Australians, they say use the Australian lines.”
Rinaldi has plenty of litters on the ground and is responsible for every single facet of their upbringing.
“We do the lot ourselves, from the womb to the racetrack. We rear them and break them in, that way you know what food is going into them and you are not relying on breaker’s reports or whatever.”
“We’ve got four 50 x 50 metre yards we rear them in and then two seven acre paddocks, which I don’t let them down into until they are about five or six months old. The Collision’s just went down into the paddock this week.”
It could well be the case that those two foundation imports are all that Rinaldi needed to manufacture the cornerstone for all of his future racing. It has given him exactly what he needs and, in some ways, put him a step ahead of the pack.
“I don’t think I’ll import again, I’ll just continue the line I’ve got. I’ve got the daughters coming through now and there’s other trainers and breeders out there trying to catch up to me, importing dogs and whatever.”
“I’ve set up what I wanted to do now so I’ll just go from there. I’ve got a couple of Bombastic Shiraz bitches that will be ready to breed with soon, Cloak Of Gold and Motivator Missy. I’ve got enough to keep them coming through, I don’t want to go and buy any more. My plan was to just get the foundation bitches in and go from there.”
Rinaldi also has no intentions of making his breeding a commercial venture, preferring to breed and race himself.
“We don’t really breed to sell, we haven’t sold any yet, it just depends on if I go broke or not,” he laughed.
“But the others keep winning and bringing in the money so I haven’t had to worry about it and if they slacken off, the Group dogs still keep bringing it in.”
For the two veterans who will turn four in March, Saturday evening could well be their Group One swansong’s. But it is highly unlikely that it will be the last we hear of them.
“They will go to stud and the way people are talking they might be reasonably successful stud dogs.”
Rinaldi summed up his recent journey over the last six or seven years perfectly with one sentence.
“I’ve set the seeds, now it’s just a matter of keeping it going.”
We could well see another chapter added to the Norm Rinaldi fairy-tale this Saturday night at The Meadows.
New Years Day will see six heats of the Group 2 Ken Hickey Concreting Cranbourne Cup take place. The race carries a first prize of $43,750.00 and is run over the 520 metre distance. The track record for the 520 metre distance is 29.68 and is held by the freakish Pororoca. Phenomenal went close to that record back in November and he lines up in Heat Three. The heats also feature Group performers Farmor Las Vegas, Xylia Allen, Dyna Beth and Peter Rocket.
Heat One (Race 3 at 7:28pm)
This is an interesting heat with recent Hobart Cup aspirant and Brisbane Cup runner up Farmor Las Vegas lining up from box five. The son of Knocka Norris-Farmor Cee You has not started at Cranbourne during his 49 career starts, but he is the class runner in the field and has been racing in top company of late. He will need some luck from the awkward draw, but if he’s given a sniff, he will win his way through to the final. Noaki Spitfire is coming off a sixth placing in the Sale Cup Final, which he led for most of the way. He is a good beginner with a record at Cranbourne that reads three wins and two placings from six starts, with a personal best of 30.22. He drops back to a distance that suits but will jump from box eight, a box he hasn’t won from in his career. Pop’s Max has had two starts for two wins at Cranbourne and has drawn box seven. His personal best at the track is 30.53 which he ran when winning on 4 December 2013. Bookkeeper is an interesting runner in box two. He has been racing predominately over the middle distance trip in recent runs and drops back for this event. He failed at The Meadows last start when dropping back to 525 metres, but prior to that had four wins from his last six starts. He is capable of leading and likes an inside draw so he is worth keeping an eye on. Galloping Rocky is a last start winner at Cranbourne in 30.36, leading all the way from box two. She has box three for this event.
Heat Two (Race 4 at 7:48pm)
This race contains a mixture of experienced dogs against some young up and comers. It remains to be seen if Ollie Bale will don the pink rug and take his place on Wednesday night, as he has qualified for the Silver Chief Final at The Meadows on Saturday night. He is a dog on the rise that has been very impressive in his last two runs at The Meadows, where he has finished off strongly each time. His litter sister, Prue Bale, jumps from box five in the same heat. She is a recent Laurels finalist and has won nine of her 24 starts. Her box manners have been mixed, so she may struggle from the awkward draw. Tonk, who starts from box four has been most impressive in recent weeks, winning four of his last six. He hasn’t been to Cranbourne before but he is a good beginner and looks the likely leader. Gold Town has box two and has a good record at the track, with two wins and a second from three starts. The Surf Lorian-Golden Gwen dog is a strong finisher and has a personal best of 30.25. Expect him to pounce on the leaders. Darren McDonald’s runner in box three, Fancy Amigo, ran third to champion bitch Xylia Allen at this last start, which was at Cranbourne. The Brett Lee-Sweet Fancy dog has recorded 30.10 at the track and has won here twice. He isn’t without a chance.
Heat Three (Race 5 at 8:11pm)
After a luckless run in the Sale Cup final, Phenomenal returns to Cranbourne from box five. Phenomenal has had just the one start at the track and that was back in November when he won the $10,000 special event and recorded the second fastest time ever at Cranbourne; a flying 29.78. He has won three times from box five and looks the clear favourite in this heat. Keybow, in box two, is a young dog with a lot of talent. He has just raced in the Silver Chief series at The Meadows and was impressive winning his heat in 29.94. He qualified as second reserve for the final after running third in his semi. He has won six from 13 and has flown around Sandown in 29.36. He loves the box two draw, winning all three times he has started from the box. Hailstorm Billy is another that has gone through the Silver Chief series, running third in his semi. He has had two starts at Cranbourne for two placings. He has box one here and isn’t the best of beginners but has a strong finish. Dyna Beth is a good beginner and has box three. She hasn’t raced at Cranbourne but has won 10 of her 24 starts and did run second in the Melbourne Cup. If she leads she is in with a big hope.
Heat Four (Race 6 at 8:29pm)
Xylia Allen is the class runner in this field from box four. She recorded a sub 30 second win at Cranbourne last start and has won two at the track from four starts. The Turanza Bale-Tayah Bale bitch is a multiple group winner and you can’t go past her in this field. Banjo Boy, from box two, is also a sub 30 second winner at this track. He hasn’t won since late October but has been placed every run since so he looks a natural place chance here. Check My Swagger has only been unplaced five times in his 20 start career. He has the early speed to lead the field from box three but will have to be wary of the strong finishers that will be right on his heels. Heidi Go Seek has never won from box five but has won at Cranbourne in 30.25. She is another that can lead but she performs better drawn closer to the rail.
Heat Five (Race 7 at 8:50pm)
This is a hard heat to pick a winner in. Crump is in winning form of late and lines up from box seven in this heat. He has had one start at Cranbourne for a 30.12 victory. If he repeats that effort, he is in with a winning chance. Where’s The Surf is another fast winner at Cranbourne, recording a best of 30.14 from his two wins at the track. He is a more reliable beginner then Crump and has the suitable inside draw. Maximum Lil also has good form at Cranbourne, winning both her starts at the track and recording a best of 30.22. She recently ran second to Ritza Hattie in the Laurels final at Sandown and has won twice from box six. She is the interesting runner in the field. Jason Thompson has Innocent Til engaged in box one. The Premier Fantasy-Proven Polly dog hasn’t won from box one previously but he has won at the track in 30.38. Hawk Alone is also a winner at the track in 30.14 from box four, the same box he has in this heat. Rocky Bale is a get back dog and may not be suited by the box three draw. He had this box at The Meadows last start and found a world of trouble. He has loads of talent but will need some early luck.
Heat Six (Race 8 at 9:08pm)
Veetee Turbo is engaged in box six in this heat, but it remains to be seen whether the dog will start as he has made the final of the Silver Chief, to be run at The Meadows on Saturday. If he does line up, he is a big chance. His recent form has been brilliant, winning his last three including a 30.64 win here at Cranbourne. He has been beginning well of late and can put himself right in the race. Peter Rocket is the experienced Group performer in the race and he will jump from box four. He begins well most of the time and has placed at his only start at Cranbourne. Given the class he has been racing in, he is one of the chances. Watta Good Dee arrives at Cranbourne after a Laurels campaign at Sandown. She is a three time winner at Cranbourne with a best of 30.48. She has box seven and hasn’t won from a box outside box six. She is a hit and miss beginner but has good race experience at the track so is worth some consideration. Speed Series loves box one but hasn’t won since late October. Iona Seven has a suitable inside draw, starting from box two. She has shown good early speed at Geelong and Sandown recently but was unplaced at her last start at The Meadows. She has had two placings at Cranbourne and is in with a shot if she leads. Peloton Bale has two wins from his last five starts and has been a consistent place getter. He has box three, a box he has won three times from. He has mixed box manners and this his first start at the track.
The six heat winners and the two fastest seconds progress through to the final that will be held on 8 January 2014.
Dyna Nalin’s win in the 2013 Sale Cup was not only a gutsy one, but also a much improved run – from 37.53 in its heat to 37.27 in the final. It had faded in the heat, as well as in its two previous middle distance runs at Cannington, but it seems the experience made the difference. Still, it is mystifying that it started at around the same price as Lucy Wires and Dyna Willow, both well proven over the trip, with the latter a much better beginner.
Also surprising was the favourite’s short price ($1.40 or $1.60, depending on your location), given that this was a final, with much more pace in the race and an ordinary box (7). Dyna Willow was also coming off two near-record runs at Wentworth Park and a heat run of 37.23 which was very competitive with the favourite’s 36.96. Still, that’s the nature of the beast these days. Last start wins always count.
But pay attention to the layout of the Sale track. Nominally, the 650m run is a good one and unique in Australian middle distance racing as it offers a three long straight runs – one at the start, one down the back and one on the way home. Yet the track falls well short of excellence because of its turns.
The first one is short and tight so many dogs do not handle it well. Note, for example, the heat run by Alpe d’Huez, a box one bandit, yet it still speared off at the first turn, losing whatever hope it had of beating the favourite.
The home turn is more of a puzzle, particularly the last half of it. It is common in any race for leading dogs to lose their course in small but significant ways, causing clashes and resulting in some putting paid to their winning chances. That to and fro is a function of the detail of the curve. The unevenness has been there for years, before and after the major re-building of a few years ago. That change, incidentally, also saw a poor 511m bend start become an equally poor 520m bend start. GRV forgot that it had a firm policy of not creating any more bend starts and failed to take the opportunity to fix this one. There is buckets of space there to allow for a straight-in approach to the back straight, but that option was not taken (shades of the nation’s best-ever middle distance trip – the now-deceased Toowoomba 555m).
The main suspect for the home turn query seems to be that the boxes were put in position first and only then was the circuit completed, almost as an afterthought. When that happens (The Gardens is another example) cambers become flat or irregular, thereby confusing the racers.
Back to the Cup. Noaki Spitfire led into the final turn, but then Phenomenal, which earlier had no trouble going underneath Dyna Willow, was noted running into its backside. Well, true enough, but why did that happen? This is a reasonable field dog and it had found its way through to that spot without hassle. The most likely answer is that some combination of levels, turn radius, lure type, etc, created the confusion.
Note that not only did that hold up Phenomenal, but the bunching and the camber also pushed Dyna Willow way off the track, ruining its chances of a win. Even so, it was taking ground off Phenomenal by the time the post arrived. Anyway, with both top dogs in trouble, Dyna Nalin whizzed through on the rail for a smart win.
Some will say that’s the luck of racing, and that’s fair enough. But the cause of that “luck” was a poorly designed turn. A good home turn must have an even velodrome-style shape which encourages runners to maintain a consistent course. Sale doesn’t.
They Have Done It Again
Last week’s article on “Business Sense” pointed out the folly of ramming yet another meeting (Shepparton) into a space already fully occupied by three codes of racing on Thursday nights – a period of peak greyhound interest. The available cash was then spread over more races, diluting all the pools and further confusing patrons.
Last week it was on again. But this time the addition was quite ridiculous. The extra meeting to make up the eight was at Warrnambool, which at first glance was pretty similar to the week before. Look closer and you will find that all those extra races were maidens which could well have been put on any time from breakfast to midnight on any day of the week. Instead, they did battle with the best dogs in the land racing in five capital cities. There were eight competing greyhound meetings in total.
The dominance of mug gamblers meant that the Warrnambool debutantes pinched turnover from well performed dogs, including some competing in the Laurels final at Sandown, as well as in the Cup final at Sale.
Here are average Win tote turnovers on the NSW TAB that night at selected tracks (Victorian turnover would have been higher for their local meetings):
|Albion Park||$10 349|
All of those pools are really too small for good punting, especially as only about half those amounts would have been visible before the betting deadline arrived. Removing the Warrnambool meeting would not have revolutionised turnover, but that money would almost certainly have filtered through to the better quality meetings.
Instead, mug gamblers invested in unpredictable dogs. That does not look like a sensible policy.
The point authorities are missing is that there is a finite amount of money available from punters at any one time, so the more races on the schedule the smaller each pool will be. Even if winning punters wanted to bet more often, the constant flow of close-spaced races makes it physically difficult to do that.
A message to this column claimed that hand timing produced quicker times than electronic timing. Well, that has not been so for the last 50 years so I will stick with increasing my times when hand timing is involved.
The Harold Park (Epping) racecourse introduced a 660 yards (603 metres) distance in 1927, seven months after the start of greyhound racing behind a lure in Australia.
The newly remodelled Newcastle greyhound track opened in 1953. The mighty bitch Macareena was among the winners at this inaugural meeting.
Acacia Park won the 1983 Christmas Gift, run over 457 metres at Harold Park, defeating World Wizzer and Don’s Dasher in a race record 26.17.
The 1994 Christmas Gift final, run over 520 metres at Wentworth Park, fell to Austwide who defeated On The Payroll by a neck in 30.48.
Christmas Day. No racing ever takes place.
Having his first look at the Wentworth Park circuit, Chief Havoc won the 1946 Sprint Championship, a best-eight event, over 550 yards (503 metres) by four lengths in a new track record time of 30.1.
Billed as ‘The Match Race of the Century’, Mint Magic (NSW), Great Wish (V), Stately Bird (NSW), and Faithful Hawk (Q), lined up against each other over 520 metres at Wentworth Park in 1999. Mint Magic stumbled just after the start, but then went fast to lead Faithful Hawk at the first turn, with Stately Bird third and Great Wish last. Great Wish clipped the heels of Stately Bird and lost ground. Mint Magic led by two lengths and clocked 13.88 for the second section. Great Wish was eight lengths from the lead. On the back turn Mint Magic cramped in the hindquarters and was joined by Faithful Hawk. They collided on the circle and Stately Bird ran into them. Great Wish took the split and raced away to score by five and a half lengths from Faithful Hawk, Stately Bird and Mint Magic in 30.46. Great Wish earned $10,000 for the win; the others $1,000 each.
Pride Of Cork won the inaugural running of the Christmas Gift, in 1969. Conducted over 500 yards (457 metres) at Harold Park, Pride Of Cork downed Fire Lane and Regal Valley in a fair 26.8. Among the unplaced division was former Queensland star Pied Rebel.
On the same night, the Christmas Gift for stayers was taken out by Real Early who ran 44.0 to defeat Tricia Miss and Nateeka over 800 yards (732 metres).
The last running of the Christmas Gift at Harold Park took place in 1986. Tom’s Two downed Hollymount Star in 26.35.
Black Caleb scored by a neck over Classic Capri in the 2001 Hobart Thousand, running a new race record time of 25.75 for the 457 metres.
Erin’s Ace became the highest stakes-winning greyhound to that time when he won a Harold Park Stake (First Grade) over 500 yards (457 metres) at Harold Park in 1949. He ran 26.7, just 2/10ths outside the track record, to defeat Glynn Occa and China Lady (the track record holder). Erin’s Ace took his earnings to £2,530 ($5,060) to surpass the previous prize money record of £2,508 ($5,016) held by Young Sign. Erin’s Ace was immediately retired to stud.
Commer took out the 1934 Melbourne Cup, run over 400 yards (366 metres) at Napier Park. Commer downed Desert Brigand by a length in 21.1/16 in the six-dog field, earning £200 ($400).
Up And Away won the Laurels Classic over 515 metres at Sandown in 2010, the second time it had been run over that distance on that track. The Graeme Bate-trained bitch scored by a nose over Kalden Athena to notch her eighth consecutive win. The Laurels had traditionally been run in June or July and C’Est La Vie had taken out the version run in June 2010. This second running allowed Sandown to re-schedule the event for December.
The Group 1 Gold 1242 2013 Sale Cup heats will be run on Wednesday night over the tough 650 metre trip. A number of noted stayers have been drawn amongst the six heats. The final will be run on Boxing Day where $75,000 will be awarded to the winner.
Heat One (Race 3 at 7:34pm)
Recent Horsham track record breaker Phenomenal lines up in the first heat out of box three. Since stepping beyond the 520 metre distance, Phenomenal has won a 595 metre event at Sandown followed by his record breaking run over 570 metres at Horsham. Clearly, he should have no trouble with the distance and all eyes will be on the clock if he steps cleanly and leads, which he has been able to do his last three runs. This is his first start at the track, but he is in the hands of the astute Jason Thompson so there will be no concerns about his preparation for this race. Born Ali in box seven has been racing in good form of late with three wins and a second from her last four starts over longer distance trips. Her box history suggests she may be better drawn inside but she is certainly strong enough to put herself in contention for a place. Cintiarna has a good record from box eight and is a very consistent bitch. She has had one start at Sale for a third placing, so she has the benefit of experience at the track. Last start Sale winner over the Cup distance, Newfire Riley, will jump from the suitable box two. He ran an average 37.64 time last week and spaces his wins, so he will be a place chance at best.
Heat Two (Race 4 at 7:49pm)
Bold Trease winner Cheetah Zorro appears from box seven in the second heat. She failed last start at The Meadows in a disappointing run over 725 metres, but she has been freshened for this run. Her latest form suggests she needs to be near the lead to win, so the early stages of the race will be telling. Amity Flame looks to be one of the main dangers in the race. The black dog will be jumping from box eight. Interestingly, he hasn’t won from that box, but he has won at Sale over the distance in 37.70 from box six. He is a last start winner at The Meadows over the staying trip in 42.40 and has won four of his last eight. Noaki Spitfire may give some cheek early from box three. At his only start at Sale in early December he ran fourth to Newfire Riley over the 650 metre distance. His best recent form is over the 595 metre trip at Sandown and he hasn’t won over a distance greater than 600 metres. Destini Gold had indifferent form before her last start win here at Sale over the Cup distance. She recorded a time of 37.61 at big odds of $43.00 from box six, the same box she has drawn in this heat.
Heat Three (Race 6 at 8:29pm)
Dyna Nalin makes the trip over from Western Australia to take his place in box three in heat three. The 2013 Topgun winner has recently stepped up to the longer trip, with two runs over the 642 metres at Cannington. He has run second both times so it will be interesting to see if the talented chaser can be competitive over the 650 metres at Sale. Tasmanian chaser Happy Tiger has box five for this heat and arrives in Victoria with three wins from his last three starts at distances of 600 metres or greater down in the Apple Isle. The draw hasn’t been kind to the black dog by Mogambo-Jacinta Bale, as he has only won once from the draw. The form of Czar, in box four, hasn’t been great. His last win was back in October at Horsham. Historically, he has good form at Sale, winning once and placing once from two starts. His record from box four isn’t too bad so he is worthy of consideration for a place. Gold Affair Two looks the likely leader from box one. She failed at her only start here at Sale last week but had the unsuitable box five.
Heat Four (Race 8 at 9:09pm)
Destini Fireball loves Sale, winning the both times he has started at the track and distance. He was a placegetter in the recent Bold Trease final and is well boxed inside. The main concern for the 45 month old chaser is that he has not won a race since July 2013. Lektra Grey hasn’t been racing too badly in the last month, recording two wins from his last four starts. He is a strong run on dog, so if he can get some luck early, which will be needed from box five, expect him to feature. Rock Domination will enjoy his good draw from box two, from which he has won six races. He should be able to overcome the moderate beginner Mimicking in box one to get prime spot on the rail. The test will be whether he runs out the 650 metres strongly. New South Wales chaser Zipping Milo will jump from box four for Jason Mackay. The Mantra Lad-Or Catra dog is the least experienced chaser in the field, but has won 13 from 25 and won three times over the 600 metre trip at The Gardens and Richmond, all in best of night. He is bred to be strong and goes good early so he is definitely in contention.
Heat Five (Race 9 at 9:28pm)
Flying Wentworth Park 720 metre Summer Cup winner Dyna Willow appears from box seven in heat five after a failed run in the Laurels over the sprint trip. Her two runs in the Summer Cup series were brilliant, recording a slick 41.92 at Wentworth Park in both the heat and final. In the Summer Cup she demonstrated that she didn’t have to lead to win. It’s her first start at Sale and she is one of the class runners in the field. Alpe D’Huez has drawn beautifully in box one and has a balanced record at Sale over this distance, starting four times for one win and three placings and a best of 37.52. He has won his last two on the trot and can add another win here. Maddison Dee has strong credentials over the longer trips and isn’t drawn too badly in box three. She won at Bendigo two runs back over 660 metres and has run third at her only start at Sale.
Heat Six (Race 10 at 9:49pm)
Didda Joe has drawn well in box eight, with a great record of six wins from the box. He was a recent winner at Sandown over the 595 metre distance at big odds of $20.00. He strikes staying star Lucy Wires in box six. The American bred bitch has been a revelation over the staying trip, winning the Sydney Cup at Wentworth Park back in October and following that up with a narrow second in the Bold Trease. Her run homes are remarkable, but she does tend to strike trouble early in her races. If she can steer clear of that, she should be winning this. Jethro loves box two and will exit that box in this heat. He has not placed in his last three starts, but can never be discounted based on his talent. The lightly raced three year old Gambo Girl hasn’t started since her second placing here at Sale on 24 November. She has had three wins and two seconds from her last six stars and will race fresh for this.
The heats offer up the prospect of a tantalising final with the chance that Phenomenal, Lucy Wires and Dyna Willow could all feature.
Group 3 Schweppes Summer Cup winner Dyna Willow’s kennel representative Tammy Collins summed up how happy connections were with the victory in three simple words.
“We are stoked.”
What was most pleasing for the camp is that the daughter of Collision and Horizon Bale didn’t have it all her own way in Saturday night’s $25,000 to the winner final, but still prevailed in style.
“She had to do it hard this week, I think she has proved what she can actually do. I didn’t think she’d have to get across Set To Shine early on. Set To Shine ran a pretty good race and made it a little bit tough for her, but she did it well. When she got checked as they went through the catching pen I was a little bit worried that dogs might come from behind. Then coming of the home turn, when the two (Smart Valentino) lobbed on her back I was worried about her being run down but she held him to the line so I was very happy with her.”
Before the race, Collins was not so sure that box eight was the best draw for her 28 kilogram red brindle chaser. Dyna Willow handled the pink alley with aplomb however, showing plenty of track sense in the process, en route to her one and a half length win.
“I actually think she might like racing there (Box 8). I was very impressed with the way she handled herself.”
Dyna Willow also exhibited plenty of tenacity. After working her way inside the initial leader Infinite Wish leaving the straight the first time, she was disappointed for a run. But the 29 month old bitch picked herself up and still managed to replicate her rapid 41.92 heat win from a week earlier.
“I couldn’t believe the time that she ran after finding that trouble. It would have been good if she didn’t get that check from Infinite Wish through the catching pen. It would have been very interesting to see what she could have done with a clearer run early but we are happy with the win anyway.”
Collins describes Dyna Willow as the consummate professional when it comes to her kennel manners at their Lara property.
“She is a very quiet kennel dog, she waits her turn, once she’s been out she goes straight back on her bed, she’s just an easy going dog, she’s beautiful.”
As the saying goes, you can’t buy experience, and Dyna Willow had also benefited greatly from her journey to Sydney a week earlier.
“Last week was her first really long trip. I leave at seven o’clock in the morning and just take my time driving to Sydney. The first week she seemed to travel a little bit uneasy, she got up a lot and was looking around at things. But this week I think she knew what was going on and she was very relaxed and laid back on the trip.”
Dyna Willow fans don’t have to wait long to see the star in action again. She will drop back to the sprint distance and exit box five in heat six of The Laurels at Sandown Park this Thursday night.
“It was a toss up between the Sale Cup and The Laurels. The Laurels is an age restricted race and it’s probably her last chance to run in a race like that, so you’ve gotta give it a shot I guess. We will freshen her up this week and hope she can come out well and make the final. After that there’s a staying race in Sydney on the 11th of January ($40,000 Summer Plate) that she will probably head to.”
Should Dyna Willow return to Wentworth Park and display the same sort of form as she has in the past fortnight, there is no doubting that the current track record of champion bitch Miata (41.81) could well be under threat.
Dyna Willow has now surpassed $50,000 in prizemoney and won 12 of her 32 race appearances, five of which have been over 700 metres or more. All things being equal, we can expect to see a lot more of Dyna Willow in the best staying races in the country.
Wagga Wagga based trainer Shannon Ellis and Booming Bennett have got a big month ahead of them if Ellis’ plans all fall into place. Booming Bennett, a two year old black bitch by Lochinvar Marlow ex. Bouncing Bunny, trialled at Sandown on Saturday and Ellis plans to target the Laurels with his promising bitch.
Booming Bennett has had six starts for Ellis since arriving in his kennel. She has won her last three, including a last start win on the 29th of November at Wentworth Park in 30.34. The win was special for Ellis as it was his first win in the city. “I had my first winner at Wentworth Park; I’m wrapt, absolutely wrapt. It was also the first city win for owner Adrian Dowdle, and the first for Adrian and Jarrad Dale’s breeding partnership, they were both over the moon. They were involved in racehorse’s and now they’re right into greyhounds. They breed them, rear them and do a really good job with their stock. Jarrad is right into the breeding and Adrian is a bookie, so they do the research.”
Ellis has been training dogs part time for sixteen years but took up full time training in the last couple of years. “I’ve been training full time for two and a half years, but I’ve been a part time trainer for about sixteen. I used to just muck around and have the odd dog here and there, but I’ve got seven dogs in work now and two brood bitches in pup, so I’m a little bit busy at the moment.”
Ellis ended up with Booming Bennett after he received a phone call from her owner Jarrad Dale. “I received a phone call off Jarrad Dale who had Miss Gunfire with me at the time. He said this bitch would suit my style of training. I just said to them to send her down and I’ll give her a bit of a go and see what happens. She won her first two starts then went off the boil, so when she arrived I got her bloods done and found a couple of little issue’s and fixed her up. She has thrived ever since.”
Since getting Booming Bennett in his kennels, Ellis has noticed a big change in the bitch’s demeanour. “She’s lovely and jumps all over you. When I first got her she was a real timid sort of bitch and you had to go and get in the kennel to get her out. She took a little bit to come around, but now she just jumps all over me. She’s a happy sort of dog now and that’s probably the reason why she’s in a nice upward spiral I feel.”
Booming Bennett’s recent win was her first run over the 520 metre trip for Ellis and she is certain to improve as she gets more experience racing over the distance. “I don’t really do too much with her. I’m only just starting to put the work into her. Now we have her confidence firing she’s really coming on and I should win a lot of races with her. In a month’s time we will know exactly what we have, at the moment she improves with every run and is going in the right direction.”
Ellis has plenty of faith in the bitch’s ability and, when I spoke to him, he was on his way back to Wagga from Sandown. “I’ve been down there trialling this morning. I made the five hour trip down to give her a look out of the boxes and at the track. She went good, she went a lot faster than I thought she would first look. She’s on target to be competitive in this and it’s all great experience for the other age restricted races in the first half of next year. This is the pinnacle of racing and it’s exciting to have a competitive bitch on the rise, I’m glad we decided to put her in the deep end. That win at Wenty was her first 500 this prep for me and the way she trialled this morning first look, she is showing me she’s only going to get better, we don’t know how fast she can go.”
The upcoming Laurels race at Sandown is firmly on Ellis’ agenda. “We are going to throw her in and hopefully she’ll get a run. She’s won her last three so she should. Another run on the track and she should just improve. I’m hoping she can make it through to the semis, I’d be happy for her to run a place this week.”
Ellis also has Booming Bennett’s sister, Bouncing Bennett in his kennels and she has won her only start for Ellis and is engaged at Shepparton on Monday. “I also have the litter sister that won first up after I got her at Canberra by seven lengths in good time, however she was injured the week after and I took my time bringing her back. She’s having her first run back at Shepparton Monday night; she has ability but may take a few runs to comeback to best form.”
Shannon Ellis has already managed to achieve some quality results with these two dogs in a relatively short space of time. Should the Wagga mentors plans all come together, the sky is the limit for Ellis and Booming Bennett.
From owning a finalist in the Group 1 Bold Trease just over a week ago, to qualifying three runners in Monday night’s $10,000 to the winner Soldiers Saddle final as a trainer, there’s no doubting that Toby Weekes is riding a wave of success. The future looks even brighter for the Molong based trainer, who is breeding and rearing his own litters from some of the strongest lines in Australia. He has also made some wise investments with his current racing stock that look set to pay dividends.
Soviet Missile (Box 2), Bollee Boy (Box 5) and Crackin Sort (Box 8) will all line up in the Soldiers Saddle final for Weekes on Monday night. All three were bred by the Pringle family. “I’ve known the Pringle’s well for many years, and if you want the best stock you go to the best breeders. It’s a proven formula; and all their dogs run 500 which is a big plus. The Pringles are renowned for having a strong line. They’ve been honest to us, giving an honest opinion of the dogs, and that’s why we invested with them mainly.”
Weekes has also ventured into the breeding game with the same line as well. “All our brood bitches have pretty much come from them (Pringles). We’ve got four brood bitches, three in pup now and one’s already dropped. We’ve also got a bit of Dennis Barnes’ line as well.”
The advantage of being out at Molong is the there’s plenty of room to rear pups and set up a good training facility. “I’ve got 100 acres, 25 of which are already set up for the dogs. I’m just out in the paddocks here now and there’s dogs free galloping. We could rear up to 50 dogs but we only rear our own. We’d rather just spend the money to set it up for rearing so we can do it ourselves. We rear full litters and do all our own meat and we’ve got our own slipping track. It’s taken a few years to get it all done, but it’s a good spot out here.”
Coming back to the Soldier’s Saddle, Weekes explains that his finalists have had a good preparation for this race. When asked about his best chance, “I’d have to rate Soviet (Missile) on top having Box 2. He’s run the second or third fastest time ever recorded at the track and he broke the second sectional record last week, so I’ve got to go with him. Actually, his first section was the best section of all four races last week and he’s back to his best I think, he’ll be hard to beat. The little bitch goes good too, Crackin Sort.”
Crackin Sort won easily last week from Box 8 and has drawn that same box for the final. “If there’s any sort of scramble there early with the first three or four dogs and she’s out wide, then she is a chance. She doesn’t cut in until she’s in front. Any trouble there and she’s my back up dog.”
Bollee Boy is his third runner in Box 5. “Bollee Boy’s working the house down at the moment. We slipped him up the other day and he ran straight past Soviet Missile about 30 metres up the slipping track. We slip them pretty close together and he’s getting stronger every 500, he’s only had two 500’s. He is definitely an improver but I don’t think he can win. Then again if there’s any trouble who knows.” Weekes’ father helps out with the dogs and he thinks Bollee Boy isn’t completely out of the race. “Dad helps me train the dogs and he said that if the blue dog jumps in front he will take some beating. On the bunny he’s just a different dog.”
Of the others, he said “Fancy Rhythm, who we sold, he’s a good little dog. He ran 30.44 there the other day when he won, but he got a bit hampered at the start. He’s a bit of a smokey too, he has really good early toe.”
“It’s not a bad sort of field really. Even Devine Awe, he’s a little pup on the rise I reckon, he hasn’t had many 500’s either and he’s getting stronger each run. Missile blew him away the other day, but he still run 30.19 and I think he’s got a little bit of ability. He’s very green and only young. Something like him, I wouldn’t like to see him lead; he’d be hard to beat.”
Weekes would love to get one up on his good mate, David Pringle, who has Jack’s Joker in the Soldiers Saddle final. Pringle’s bitch Midnight News beat Weekes’ dog Freddy’s Smile in the 2013 Toledo Trailers National Capital Distance Championship final back in May. “Jack’s Joker will go alright; he’s a bit hot and cold. He’s gone 29.67 at The Gardens, he’s a freak. It’s always good to beat Dave, he’s one of my good mates and it’s good to have a stir with him. He got me at Canberra in that Toledo Trailers race over 600. Freddy (Freddy’s Smiles) beat her (Midnight News) in the heat and she was a reserve. A dog was scratched so Dave got a run and Midnight News got him on the line.”
You might recognise the name Freddy’s Smile because he was a finalist in the recent Bold Trease at Sandown. Weekes recently sent Freddy’s Smile down to Mick Carter to train in Victoria. Freddy’s Smile ran fourth in the final and hit the front turning for home. “He got beaten a length and a quarter from first to fourth. They got him on the home corner. When he was in front I nearly jumped on top of the fence and started running along the top of it. It was good, we were happy with him running fourth.”
After the Soldiers Saddle series, Weekes is preparing himself for the long drive to Victoria to trial Soviet Missile and Crackin Sort. “I’m going down there next week to trial Missile and Crackin Sort to get her ready for the Laurels and the Missile will go down to the Silver Chief. Now that I’ve got two or three going down there it sort of makes my trip a bit more worthwhile.”
With such strong stock and eminent success so far, you may hear Toby Weekes’ name a great deal more in the future.
Londonderry trainer Majella Ferguson is on the comeback from a quiet few months in the training department, with a small kennel that is certainly proving to be a case of quality over quantity.
Exciting prospect Cyclone Simone has made an instant impression since returning to the track earlier this month- winning two from two and taking her record to three from five overall. The daughter of champion sire Bombastic Shiraz was bred by Ferguson out of her highly talented racebitch Smashing Amy.
Smashing Amy was owned by Ferguson’s family and won fifteen races throughout her career, including the NSW Distance Championship at Wentworth Park, after which she represented the state in the National final at Perth. Although she didn’t emerge from the series as a winner, Smashing Amy was no doubt talented- something which she has passed onto her progeny.
Aside from Cyclone Simone, the litter also includes the brilliant middle distance dynamo Bookkeeper. Bookkeeper stole the Topgun limelight momentarily over the weekend when he broke Nellie Noodles’ 34.07s track record over the 600 metre trip at The Meadows, clocking a scintillating 34.05s in a heat of the Group 1 Hume Cup.
“She was fast as a sprinter and fast as a stayer. She was a little bit moody but she was really good”, Ferguson explained of her former star, Smashing Amy.
“She was a really good bitch. We bred the six of them at home, but we had a lot of pups at the time. We had Irreplaceable’s pups so we actually sold all of them”
“The people that own her, Ben and Wayne Carey, are friends of mine and she is their first dog. They are really nice people, they bought her as a pup and they let us rear her and do everything- she got broken-in and then came straight back to us”
It has not been a smooth introduction to racing for the first-time owners. While Cyclone Simone clearly has an abundance of talent, as is all too common with fast greyhounds, she has been plagued by injury problems for much of her career.
“It’s been really hard because they knew that they had a good dog”, Ferguson said.
“She has been a nightmare injury wise. She started off good but then she kept doing her pins”
“She is three next February- she was really late starting. When we got her coming back last time we changed all her training- people were saying don’t put her up the straight because she has done her pins, so we were thinking how do we get her fit?”
“We put her around the circle but that wasn’t doing any good so we decided to free gallop her in the paddock every day for about six weeks before we brought her back”
Cyclone Simone debuted at The Gardens in July, defeating the highly talented Premier Mozz in a slick 29.85s. The black bitch was luckless in her next start at the track before finishing fourth at Dapto at her third track appearance. After this, she was trialled post-to-post at Wentworth Park and was then nominated for her first start at headquarters.
“You wouldn’t believe it- we had her ready and we were going to put her in at Wenty and she chased a duck in the let-out yard and ran straight into the fence”
Cyclone Simone returned to the track just under two weeks ago at Maitland, recording a slick 25.36s (BON) over the 450 metre trip. She then ventured back to Dapto, scoring in a heat of a 1-2 wins series by seven and a half lengths in a fast 29.78s.
The pint-sized powerhouse will return to Dapto tomorrow for the final; however she faces a much tougher challenge from box five. Despite being the only runner in the field to break the 30-second barrier at the track, the undefeated Rain Bale for Simon Rhodes is lining up from box seven and looks to have plenty of talent of her own.
Ferguson is hopeful of a good result from the lightly raced bitch and gives her a good chance despite the draw
“She goes nice early and if she finds the front she’ll be winning, but this race is a little bit tricky because she had the two the other day and the one box was vacant, so it was a big advantage- but she does go nice”
“Her first split was good but I notice that there are a couple of dogs in it that have got a couple of nice splits- that one of Simon Rhodes (Rain Bale) goes alright but at least it is drawn on her outside”
“I don’t think the five will worry her because I was watching her the other day- after she came out she sort of moved out to the centre of the track a little bit”.
All going well, Ferguson would like to target some feature events with Cyclone Simone in the future. Despite being lightly raced, because she is almost three, Cyclone Simone has missed many of the age restricted series’ and will subsequently have to compete in open class
“We might have a look at The Gardens or possibly something like the Soldiers Saddle at Bathurst. Because she is that little bit late starting she misses things like the Laurels and a few of those age races- she missed the Vic Peters. She is very new to racing realistically, but she should be able to race on and I think she has a pretty bright future because she does go nice and as you can see when she leads she is fairly strong”
Cyclone Simone is not the only exciting prospect in Ferguson’s kennel at present. Knocka Norris youngster Bleiswijk Billy is developing a handy little record for himself with three wins and a second from four starts at Maitland. The white greyhound got down to 25.43s at his last effort at the showground- indicating that he has some ability too.
The consistent Electro Storm has been flying the flag for the Ferguson kennels at Wentworth Park recently- clocking two blistering wins in 29.69s and 29.83s respectively before finding trouble at his last three starts. The son of Bit Chili is a classy customer and is sure to be back on the winner’s list in upcoming weeks.
Possibly most exciting of all is the resilient Unexplained who is on the comeback from injury. The Where’s Pedro – Stylish Scene dog has only had three trials since he started making his comeback, but broke the Richmond track record at his most recent preparation run- clocking a breathtaking 22.21s over the 400 metres
“Unexplained actually broke the track record at Richmond after the last on Wednesday. He has torn both hips- he did the first one and then we brought him back and he won at Ballarat and then he tore the second one in Melbourne, but he appears to have come back bigger and better than ever”
“His run home was sensational over 400-it was just beyond belief. That’s the best he has ever gone there. He is possibly going to go to Melbourne or to Hobart- we are thinking the Ballarat Cup or the Hobart Thousand with him”.
“He has been a great dog and he is a fast dog- a very fast dog”.
Ferguson also has high hopes for the final Stylish Scene litter by Brett Lee. The pups are half brothers and sisters to Unexplained and full relations to Group winners Irreplaceable and Dazzle You
“We are very excited about our Brett Lee- Stylish Scene litter- it is her last litter and they are eleven months old”
“They are the nicest pups I have ever seen. It has been amazing what she has thrown. She had eleven pups in her first litter (x Brett Lee)- they all won, there was six city winners and two group winners”.
Continuing our series on suggested changes to racing rules, here are a few more to go with those we wrote about on October 3rd (Items 1, 2 and 3). These are partly rules as such and partly recommended practices. Indeed, the latter group could well be built up by Greyhounds Australasia as a permanent guide to authorities and clubs around the nation.
There are many subjects where research and intelligence could be gathered professionally and then released for the benefit of all (as with drug treatments). For example, one we have mentioned previously is the use of the finish-on lure. Far too much of that discussion has been emotional rather than analytical and so the industry has gained little from it.
(4) Beauty in the Eye of the Beholder
One of the most important reviews we need is of rug colours. Too often they are hard to distinguish, one from the other. They are fine if the dogs are right in front of you, or the rugs are laid out on the boardroom table, but not when you are in the crowd on a wet and windy night and it’s hard to see what is happening over in the back straight.
Viewing on SKY is no better, and is sometimes worse due to long distances, starts in the back straight, poor camera quality, awkward camera angles or poor lighting.
Here are the clashes.
- (a) Red (1) and Pink (8) are OK when the two dogs are together, but not when they are apart. It’s worse when the rugs are getting old (much like the eyes of many viewers). Even synthetic fabric wears out.
- (b) Checks (2), White (3) and Green and White stripes (9) are not easy to sort out at a distance, especially when the dogs using them are white, black and white, or black.
- (c) Blue (4) and Green (6) have the same problem as 1 and 8. Sitting together they are fine but in poor light you are never sure. Lighting can play tricks, too.
Bear in mind that 99% of people watching a race are not there in the flesh but looking at a SKY picture, often at night in varying types of artificial light, when impressions can be quite different (I well remember the old Penrith track where they once used blue coloured globes which made a complete mess of the colours).
I hesitate to offer alternatives here because that is a job that should be entrusted to a qualified colour consultant. However, it’s worth noting that Dayglo colours, although probably more expensive, can be dramatically effective. I saw an example once in a whippet race and the result was brilliant (it happened to be for the Yellow). In today’s mix, Dayglo Green and Pink would also be a big help. If it’s good enough for road workers and lollipop ladies, it’s good enough for greyhounds.
GAL has already swapped the dirty Brown for a more satisfactory Green but it needs to go much further.
In passing, note that greyhound racing has a potentially big advantage over the other two racing codes where only a few regulars can easily identify jockey or driver colours. We should press home that advantage.
Note: America has neither Black and White Checks or Pink rugs and the 8 dog uses Green and White stripes. Europe has no Pink but does have Orange.
(5) No Rule but one Needed
Regularly we are seeing dogs backup quickly – many only two or three days after their previous race. Rarely does this policy show dividends, which is not surprising considering standard veterinary advice about recovery times for the average dog.
But dumping these conundrums on unsuspecting punters is not a good policy. How will they ever know if the dog is up to such a task? You can’t tell just by looking.
Imposing limits of at least 5 days between runs for sprinters and 7 days for stayers is a must. The dogs will probably thank you for it as well.
(6) Try First, then Buy
In one of its few progressive changes, GRNSW introduced a requirement for budding maidens to first complete an official trial before entering a real race. This was an excellent move because it gives punters a rough idea of how the dog might perform. Unfortunately, the practice has not been copied elsewhere.
In some cases, a specific event may require pre-qualification but it is not routine across the country. It should be.
Probably the most worrying are the premium Victorian age events – the Laurels and the Sapphire – where both unraced dogs and maidens are allowed into the heats. How can you tell if the dog is any good or not? Will it figure in the finish, run nowhere or just mess up the other runners? There is no way of telling.
A blanket ban across the country will fix the problem
Otherwise – The Staying Caper
GRV news has highlighted comments from breeder Geoff Collins about the rising prominence of American blood amongst our stayers. Fair enough, too. However, let’s go not overboard about the performances of the current lot of top distance dogs, including the examples quoted of Lucy Wires and Destini Warrior. (That also goes for Proven Impala, which does not quite seem to be at its best over the longer trip, notwithstanding its one brilliant 42.01 run at Wentworth Park, or for Irma Bale, which runs out of puff at around 650m).
For a start, they lack sufficient consistency to be in the top ranks. Nor have any of them run great times in recent months. Typically, the better races are won in times eight to ten lengths outside the track record. Good on any of them that might win Group races but you also have to consider what they beat – ie generally fair to average dogs which tend to plod rather than stay, or spear out, lead, then fade. It’s a far cry from there to the quality of today’s sprinters.
In any event, in class terms, Smart Valentino would be well ahead of the Victorian group although it, too, has to get away in the first half of the field to really sparkle. But it is a genuine stayer.
Simultaneously, GRV is pushing its program to encourage more stayers by offering bonus prize money at provincial tracks for everything from 570m to 680m. This is puzzling on two grounds.
First, they are flat out getting full fields for these races. Five, six and seven runners are more typical, suggesting that few trainers believe they have dogs capable of even middle distance trips.
Second, the dogs they do get are nothing to shout about. Many are there only because they can’t compete well over shorter trips. Results are often erratic. Flow-on to success over city 700s is rare. And, once again, performances are erratic if they do get there.
NSW has similar programs and results are much the same as in Victoria.
Which brings me back to a point that needs more emphasis. Throwing cash on the table is not much use unless you have the cards to back it up. Much better to go down the Geoff Collins road and seek out means of improving the breed. Funds would be better allocated to carefully selected sires or strains (whatever they might be) which have more chance of throwing up dogs that can get the longer trip. That would not happen overnight but it would offer much better odds of success in the long term.
Gunda Bale caused one of the biggest upsets in the history of the Macro Meats Laurels when the rank outsider proved too good at Sandown Park tonight.
With first split record holder Purcell Bale missing the start from box 2, the field jostled for position in the run to the first turn. Many greyhounds found trouble however Gunda Bale stuck fast to the rails and found herself three lengths clear on entering the back straight.
The chasing pack set off in pursuit of the unexpected front runner, however they could do little to reign in the lamp lighter, Gunda Bale going on to defeat the gallant Oenjay Dancer by 1.5 lengths with favourite and kennel mate Langi Bale a further 1.5 length away third in 30.01 seconds.
Continue reading Graeme Bate & Gunda Bale Upset The Laurels Classic Final
Irma Bale claimed her second group race title in as many months with a brilliant victory in the $58,000 Group 2 McKenna Memorial at Sandown Park tonight.
Backed in to $2.80 favouritism, the Sandown Cup winner began well from box three to rail through to the lead at the first turn.
It’s A Blur ($9.90), the sole interstate trained greyhound in the race, then swept down the middle of the track to assume the lead on leaving the home straight. However that racing style would eventually prove her undoing.
Continue reading Irma Bale Wins 2012 McKenna Memorial At Sandown Greyhounds
Peter Dundon’s dream start to his training career continued at Sandown Park tonight when exciting youngster Stetson Donna led all the way to win the Group 2 Macro Meats Laurels Classic.
Dundon, who only started training in April, was confident of his charge’s chances ahead of the $50,000 to-the-winner final, and that confidence was justified when Stetson Donna ($7.90) began brilliantly from box 3 to lead through the first turn ahead of Witch’s Potion ($20.90) and Take Me Home ($19.30).
Down the back straight, the trio cleared away from the pack headed by odds on favourite Irma Bale ($1.70) who railed strongly through the first turn after blowing the start.
Continue reading Stetson Donna Leads All The Way In Sandown’s 2011 Laurels Classic
After a three month drought, Group-winning bitch Kalden Athena has returned to the winner’s circle at Cannington this week. Since leaving Western Australia in February, the blue fawn chaser has been earning many frequent flyer miles with starts in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane in pursuit of some lucrative prize money.
However, after a few indifferent performances, many were wondering if the form that won the S.A Derby and placed in the Laurels could ever be recaptured.
But with a ticket home to the kennels of Dan Biddle, and a good box draw to boot, Kalden Athena quickly made a mess of her rivals, and cruised home by seven lengths in the lead-all-the-way performance.
Continue reading Home Sweet Home For Kalden Athena
Week three of GRSA’s summer chasing carnival is upon us and things are starting to heat up faster than the Adelaide weather. With four semi-finals Group 1 Tattsbet.com Adelaide Cup scheduled to be held Thursday night, along with seven heats of the John Gray Memorial, it’s definitely one for the racing purists.
This follows what was an excellent night last Thursday, which saw Symmetry follow up his Sale Cup win with an impressive victory in the Interstate Challenge. Octane Show and Greywinds Doll were going stride for stride up front, but neither of them could match the mid-race burst of Robert Britton’s versatile chaser. His box eight record is looking better by the week with four wins from the outside alley. This recent version was completed in 29.75 for the 515m journey.
Another box eight specialist, Satanic Cash added to the night by landing the $30,000 West End Distance Championship. It was a textbook ‘Cash’ victory with a forceful finish that left handy race leader Aston Rachael with windburn in the home straight. Much overdue was a feature event win for Bob Isaacson and his black staying star.
Continue reading GRSA Summer Chasing Carnival In Full Swing For Adelaide Cup Semi Finals
The 2011 version of the Group 1 Tattsbett.com Adelaide Cup will kick off at Angle Park this week. Last year saw Victorian sprinter Dyna Lachlan win the prize over a quality field that included High Earner, Mr Metz, Springvale Dash and Strictly Mambo. Likewise this year, a very talented pool of interstate greyhounds have come across to tackle the $96,000 final that is the climax to a three week series.
In a unique format, the Adelaide Cup sees 16 nominated greyhounds to automatically progress to the semi finals, with all other nominations competing in the first round of heats (to be held Thursday night). The first two placegetters from those eight heats will join the 16 seeded dogs the week after, to compete in four semi finals.
Also incorporated into the GRSA summer chasing carnival is the Advertiser Interstate Challenge – a special event where four invited interstate greyhounds meet four of the best South Australia can offer. Below is a comprehensive look at all eights cup heats as well as the highly-anticipated Interstate Challenge.
Continue reading 2011 Group 1 Adelaide Cup Greyhound Racing Series Preview And Tips
While it was all cheers and beers after the second running for 2010 of the Laurels at Sandown last night when the Graeme Bate trained Up And Away prevailed over Kalden Athena, news has broken today that the victory has been tainted by a recent positive swab hearing before the Racing Appeals and Disciplinary Board.
Despite Greyhound Racing Victoria not releasing any information whatsoever with regard to a Stewards Inquiry about Bate’s positive swab, it is understood a RADB hearing was held on the 21st December 2010 and Bate was found guilty or presenting a greyhound to race under the influence of a prohibited substance.
The positive swab stems from a swab taken from Jarvis Bale back in July 2010 when running third in the Group 2 AWM Distance Championship at The Meadows. On that occasion, Jarvis Bale was beaten by West Australia Blue Lorian for the $25,000 first prize.
Continue reading Graeme Bate’s Up And Away Laurels Victory Tempered By Positive Swab
Master trainer Graeme Bate took out the final Group 1 event of 2010 when exciting youngster Up And Away scored a thrilling victory in the $72,500 Group 1 Macro Meats Laurels Classic at Sandown Park tonight.
Coming into the race on the back of seven consecutive wins, Up And Away was widely tipped to lead the race, however it was favourite and fastest qualifier Kalden Athena ($2.90) who was the best to begin. However Up And Away ($3.90) soon mustered pace to take a clear lead through the first turn.
Up And Away then raced clear down the back straight with Isadoll ($3.90) and Kalden Athena in hot pursuit. The chasing pair engaged in a brief bumping duel before Kalden Athena made her move upon turning for home.
Continue reading Up And Away Makes It Eight Straight Winning 2010’s Second Laurels
At the end of October, El Grand Senor sat in eighth place on the Australian Greyhound Racing Associations monthly rankings, which are calculated by points being allocated to a dog that competes in a group final based on their finishing position.
In the space of one month, the Carolyn Jones trained superstar now sits top of the tree with 210 points, eight points clear of Reg Kay’s Elite Blue Size with 202 points and rounding out the top three is distance star Blue Lorian with 193 points who just etched out Enry Walt by one point.
It seems the greyhound world has found its next big attraction with El Grand Senor’s statistics just as impressive as his group victories thus far. In October he claimed the illustrious group one Sky Channel Top Gun, and in November he added his third group one win to his trophy cabinet after an unusual moderate start he mustered his early speed and took the lead heading around the first turn to extend the winning margin to just over six lengths and recorded an impressive 29.55. He is now just one group one win away from being eligible for the Australian Greyhound Racing Hall of Fame.
Continue reading El Grand Senor Rises To The Top Of The Rankings Table
AGRA’s Greyhound of the Month for June 2010 is young Victoria sprinter C’est La Vie. In June the talented Red Fawn youngster won three from three making a clean sweep of the Group 1 Hawkins Media Laurels.
Beautifully prepared by leading Victorian mentor Robert Britton she has always shown a liking for the Lightwood Road circuit at Sandown from six starts she has four wins and two placings. Her Laurels campaign commenced on June 13 with an all the way win, clocking 29.91 to down the talented Galaxy High.
In her semi final on June 17 she again led all the way to beat Geisha Bale in 30.12 like in the heat her early section set the race up with a fast 5.15 she had recorded 5.14 on the Sunday.
Continue reading Laurels Classic Winner Awarded June Greyhound Of The Month