2015 Group 1 Association Cup tips & betting preview

WHILE the nation’s best sprinters will be vying for the Golden Easter Egg at Wentworth Park on Saturday night, the stayers will also get their shot at glory with the running of the Group 1 Association Cup over 720-metres.

The feature is set to see a clash between three of the sport’s best stayers — dual Group 1 winner Space Star, the ever-consistent Lady Toy and returning champion Sweet It Is who was first up for over three months in last week’s heats.

Space Star (box two) is the current favourite $2.10 favourite with William Hill for leading trainer Rob Britton. The black chaser bounced back from his defeat in the Group 1 Superstayers with a dazzling 41.71 heat victory last week. The freakish son of Bekim Bale and Tonto Tears smashed the track record at The Meadows of 725-metres when running 41.93 in late February and there is every chance that he will give this record a shake if he can land on the bunny.

Lady Toy has been in terrific form since joining the Ennis kennel and she will be shooting for her first win at the highest level when she exits the cherry. Although she is yet to score victory over him, the unfashionably bred daughter of Our Toyman and Railway Shiraz has been the main rival for Space Star in recent months.

Sweet It Is returned to the track after over three months on the sidelines, running second to Lady Toy in her heat last Saturday. The four-time Group 1 winner didn’t close with the finishing burst she is renowned for, but is sure to benefit from that run and strip fitter for Saturday’s $75,000-to-the-winner final.

Lets take a look at each runner individually including comment from Australian Racing Greyhound’s expert form analyst, Brad Bugeja.

Box One: Lady Toy
Black Bitch – 29.1kg – June 2012
Our Toyman x Railway Shiraz
Trainer: Brooke Ennis
Career: 56:16-14-11
T/D: 2:2-0-0
T/D Best: 41.85
Career Highlights: WON 2015 Listed Maidment Memorial, Ballarat 37.59 TR, 2ND 2015 Group 1 Superstayers, 2ND 2015 Group 1 Galaxy, FINALIST 2015 Group 1 Zoom Top

“Has really gone to a new level since joining the Ennis kennel and she has been lucky with the box draw having drawn the red in five of her past seven starts. Last week she began well and showed great early zip and led pretty much throughout when scoring in a sizzling 41.90. From the red she is drawn to just about lead again and if she does she will make Space Star work overtime for victory.”

Odds to win the Association Cup: $2.65 with William Hill

Box Two: Space Star
Black Dog – 35.4kg – June 2012
Bekim Bale x Tonto Tears
Trainer: Rob Britton
Career: 33:21-4-5
T/D: 9:5-1-2
T/D Best: 41.71
Career Highlights: WON 2015 Group 1 Galaxy, 2015 Group 1 Zoom Top, 2015 Group 2 Distance Plate, The Meadows 41.93 TR, Gosford 34.21 TR, Richmond 35.00 TR, 2ND 2014 Group 1 Sale Cup, 3RD 2015 Group 1 Superstayers

“Easily the country’s best stayer and after bombing the start last week he showed a ridiculous turn of speed to score in a blistering 41.71. He has a great record over this track and trip and if you knew he was going to get a clear run you would empty your bank account and get on. The two draw is a big concern tonight and he is going to need a lot of things to go his way, however is close to being a Champion and Champions find a way to win. He is still my top pick.”

Odds to win the Association Cup: $2.10 with William Hill

Box Three: Lillycette
Black Bitch – 25.4kg – April 2012
Velocette x Come Over Nova
Trainer: Ted Medhurst
Career: 35:17-8-2
T/D: 1:0-1-0
T/D Best: 42.29
Career Highlights: FINALIST 2015 Group 2 Launceston Cup

“Classy Tasmanian stayer and she was far from disgraced when placed in her heat last week. To be a factor tonight she will need to lead clearly and with the speed underneath and out wide I can’t see that happening. She did well to make the final but I can’t see her making an impact tonight.”

Odds to win the Association Cup: $17 with William Hill

Box Four: Sweet It Is
Black Bitch – 29.4kg – November 2011
Mogambo x Off Springer
Trainer: Braden Finn
Career: 51:16-13-5
T/D: 9:3-4-1
T/D Best: 41.55
Career Highlights: WON 2014 Group 1 National Distance, 2014 Group 1 Association Cup, 2014 Group 1 Sandown Cup, 2014 Group 1 Bold Trease, 2014 Group 3 Sydney Cup, 3RD 2014 Group 1 Sale Cup, FINALIST 2013 Group 1 Bold Trease, 2014 Group 1 Superstayers, 2014 Group 3 Chairman’s Cup

“Was great to see her back on the racetrack last week, however she appeared to be a long way from her best. It was her first race for three months and it could be worth forgiving that effort as she would have derived a lot of benefit from that run. She surprisingly showed a bit of early toe last week, tonight I’m hoping she can drop out early and avoid trouble and that will enable her to balance up a lot earlier. It’s hard to get a proper gauge on last week’s effort as to how she is travelling but she is too good to totally dismiss.”

Odds to win the Association Cup: $5 with William Hill

Box Five: Zipping Felix
Black Dog – 32.0kg – May 2012
Turanza Bale x Natalie Rass
Trainer: Marty Hallinan
Career: 33:9-5-5
T/D: 1:1-0-0
T/D Best: 41.99
Career Highlights: FINALIST 2014 Group 1 Sale Cup, 2014 Bendigo Gold Rush Maiden

“Has been sparingly raced in recent months and after a steady effort at The Meadows in a heat of the super stayers, he managed to show his true talent with a brilliant 41.99 heat win here last week. He is likely to settle back in the field tonight but if he can avoid early bother he will be hitting the line hard and a top three finish could be on the cards. This is clearly his toughest test to date but he showed great signs here last week.”

Odds to win the Association Cup: $16 with William Hill

Box Six: Zipping Maggie
Dark Brindle – 28.2kg – May 2012
Turanza Bale x Natalie Rass
Trainer: Marty Hallinan
Career: 37:13-7-4
T/D: 8:2-3-2
T/D Best: 41.78
Career Highlights: WON 2014 Group 3 Chairman’s Cup, 2ND 2014 Group 3 Summer Cup, FINALIST 2014 Group 1 Bold Trease, 2014 Group 2 AWM Distance Championship, 2014 Group 3 Top Cat Video Cup, 2014 Group 3 Sydney Cup

“Has always done her best racing here and was far from disgraced when placed behind Space Star last week. She hasn’t faired to well with the box draw but she normally boxes quite well and she is capable of showing great speed. I don’t like her chances in this field but if she happened to ping and lead she might take some catching as she has won here previously in a sizzling 41.78.”

Odds to win the Association Cup: $13 with William Hill

Box Seven: Unix Bale
Brindle Bitch – 28.6kg – March 2012
Collision x Marnie Bale
Trainer: Steve Collins
Career: 53:13-8-8
T/D: 1:0-0-1
T/D Best: 42.34
Career Highlights: FINALIST 2014 Group 3 SA Oaks

“Made her staying debut here last week and although she wasn’t disgraced, she will still need to find plenty to be a factor in this event. She is better suited to a rails draw and I can see her being posted wide for most of the journey tonight. Unlikely to be a factor in the run to the line.”

Odds to win the Association Cup: $31 with William Hill

Box Eight: Opec Bale
Black Dog – 32.1kg – December 2012
Bekim Bale x Amanda Bale
Trainer: Mark Delbridge
Career: 25:9-4-7
T/D: 2:0-1-1
T/D Best: 42.23
Career Highlights: WON The Meadows 42.25, Sandown Park 41.99

“A few months back he appeared to be the next big thing in greyhound racing and a big race win appeared to be just around the corner. He has not really gone on with it and he is just a tad short of being able to match it with the real top liners. He has drawn well in the pink tonight and he could maybe sneak home into third place, however he was soundly beaten in his heat and he will need to find a fair bit to be a factor.”

Odds to win the Association Cup: $14 with William Hill

1st Reserve
White and Blue Bitch – 26.4kg – September 2012
Knocka Norris x Misty Fields
Trainer: Gerard O’Keefe
Career: 23:8-3-5
T/D: 1:0-0-1
T/D Best: 42.38
Career Highlights: FINALIST 2015 Group 1 Superstayers

“Handy stayer who has continued to improve with every run over the staying journey. Last week she was soundly beaten and it is pretty clear that she isn’t up to this level. She has early speed to give a sight in the early stages, but I would expect them to reel her in mid-race.”

Odds to win the Association Cup: $26 with William Hill

2nd Reserve: Blinker’s On
Blue Dog – 33.0kg – May 2012
Cosmic Rumble x Good Oil
Trainer: Brooke Ennis
Career: 33:10-8-2
T/D: 1:0-0-0
T/D Best: 42.34
Career Highlights: 2ND 2015 Group 1 Zoom Top, FINALIST 2014 Group 1 Bold Trease, 2014 Group 3 Sir John Dillon Memorial, 2015 Group 1 Galaxy, 2015 Group 1 Superstayers

“Another who has been pretty disappointing after promising so much early in his career. Was average in his heat and he looked very one paced, unlikely to gain a start but even if he did he is unlikely to make an impact”

Odds to win the Association Cup: $19 with William Hill

Top Four: 2 – 1 – 4 – 5

Suggested Bets:

Trifecta: 2/1,4,5/Field ($18 for 100%)

Trifecta: 1,2/1,2/Field ($12 for 100%)

Trifecta: 1,2/1,2/4,5,6,8 ($8 for 100%)

Quinella: 2 to rove with 1,4,5 ($3 for 100%)

Exacta: 1,2/1,2,4,5 ($6 for 100%)