Box one bandit: McNeo’s win at The Meadows sets probable record

McNeo wins in strong style at The Meadows. PIC: Paul Munt.

AS most industry participants will be well aware, detailed racing records are hard to come by but on Saturday night at The Meadows it seems possible that McNeo’s victory in the fifth race on the program may well have propelled him to the top of the Victorian ‘charts’ when it comes to the number of undefeated runs from box one.

McNeo, a black and white dog by Magic Sprite out of Ruby Ha Ha, took his record to 12 wins and 10 placings from 40 career starts, but, remarkably, he has now had eight starts out of box one for eight wins.

Apart from the fact that McNeo has been extremely fortunate in drawing the red marble at 20 percent of his career starts to date, his trainer Rob Neocleous has done a good job with the 32-kilo sprinter in ensuring his charge has utilised the inside alley to full advantage.

His eight wins from box one have come with four at Traralgon (525m), two at Sandown (515m), one at Warragul (460m) and one at The Meadows (525m).

To put McNeo’s efforts into perspective, the previous best box one record I am able to find for a Victorian sprinter belongs to the mighty Temlee, who started five times wearing the red rug for five wins, in the 1970s.

The very best box one record I am aware of belongs to the 1971 NSW Greyhound of the Year, Shapely Escort, who drew box one nine times in her career for nine wins.

McNeo is now, obviously, just one win away from equalling Shapely Escort’s record.

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Whether McNeo (a) ever draws the red alley again in his career or (b), if he does, is able to equal Shapely Escort’s record and then go on to maintain an unbeaten record from the draw will only become apparent in succeeding months and at the end of McNeo’s career, whenever that may be.

Tropical One, the Queensland non-TAB sprinter who holds the record for the most successive wins (at 23 on end), also won his first nine races when coming out of the inside alley. He was then beaten at start number 10.

To put McNeo’s efforts into broader perspective, the great Fernando Bale was undefeated in six starts out of box five and four races out of box four.

Champion South Australian sprinter Scull Murphy won 10 in a row out of box seven before running second out of this alley in the 2009 Adelaide Cup.

Brett Lee had eight races out of box three for eight wins while recent Hall of Fame inductee El Grand Senor won seven out of seven from box two.

Rapid Journey was unbeaten in in five starts out of box six (including the 1998 National Sprint Championship and 1998 Melbourne Cup) while his West Australian contemporary, Reggemite, was undefeated in seven starts from box four. Victorian Whisky Assassin remained unbeaten in nine starts from box eight in his career.

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