THE biggest event on the Australian greyhound racing calendar has arrived, with the 2016 Group 1 Melbourne Cup (515m) series commencing with eight sensational heats at Sandown Park on Friday night.
The greyhounds engaged in this year’s series have won a combined total of 1024 races with a massive $7.3 million in prize money earnings.
The winner of each heat will progress through to next week’s $420,000 to the winner final – officially the world’s richest greyhound race – with the box draw set to be conducted on Sunday November 13.
The current favourite to take out the series is Dundee Osprey at $8 with Sportsbet, with the dual group 1 winner set to jump from box eight in heat six.
Also given a leading chance in the series are Zambora Brockie ($9), Pop The Cork ($10) and last start Group 1 Hume Cup heroine, Fanta Bale ($11).
It will be a cracking night of chasing action this Friday, with four heats of the Group 1 Bold Trease (715m) also set to be run and won, with that series highlighted by star stayer Burn One Down.
Race one – Bold Trease heat one – 7:08pm
Ring The Bell (7) is the class runner of the field and is better than his recent placings suggest. He has an excellent record over the track and trip including a 41.53 personal best which would see him win this race if he can reproduce that time.
Miss Foxy Lee (3) mixes her form but she is a serious talent when on song and could threaten in this event if she gets clear room during the race. Having her first start here at Sandown which is a slight concern, but she comes from a good kennel so must be respected.
Kuta’s Lad (5) has been racing well without winning of late. He is only having his second attempt over the staying trip so it will be interesting to see if he can improve off his second at The Meadows on Saturday night.
Melissa’s Pride (8) is a front running stayer which could cause some problems for the favourite early in the race. She goes better from the inside but is racing well at the moment and could sneak into the placings.
Suggested bet: WIN bet on Ring The Bell at $2.65 with Crownbet
Race two – Bold Trease heat two – 7:25pm
Hard to go past Burn One Down (5) which is currently the best stayer in Australia. Drawn awkwardly in box five but has won his past seven starts and is clearly the one to beat.
Ramifications (7) is a classy stayer from WA and is having his first start for Jeff Britton in this race. Probably better suited closer to the fence but he is a talented type capable of running well.
Veetee Swift (2) is the interesting runner here. She is by Spring Gun so you wouldn’t really expect her to be a stayer, but she has been running well over the middle distance trips including a 39.12 win at Traralgon over 665m last start.
Expect her to be up near the lead early and could run a cheeky race behind the favourite.
Aston Harvey (6) has been racing well of late. Will need a lot of luck to beat the favourite but not without a chance at odds.
Suggested bet: PLACE bet on Veetee Swift at $2.25 with Crownbet
Race three – Melbourne Cup heat one – 7:48pm
Pantera Nera (1) is a beautiful beginner and should have no issues punching up to hold the lead in this race. Capable of running around the 29.20 mark on the bunny and will find it hard to pick him up if he is carving out time like that out in front.
Ando’s Mac (8) won the Group 1 Vic Peters Classic at Wentworth Park two starts back before finishing fifth here after missing the start last week. He is normally a good beginner which he will need to be in order to get across in this race, but if he can get into a nice position he is a winning chance.
Mitcharlie Mia (5) finished down the track at Sandown on debut last week, but she is a classy little sprinter and more than capable of mixing it with these greyhounds if she can get away cleanly at the start.
Sleek Master (6) is an immense talent but is awkwardly drawn on the inside of some speed and will need luck in the run to the line on the first occasion.
Suggested bet: WIN bet on Pantera Nera at $2.80 with Sportsbet
Race four – Melbourne Cup heat two – 8:08pm
Alpha Demeter (3) looks the early leader in this field and that is a massive advantage in a series such as this. Boxed well in the three with very little speed either side of him. Needs to improve on his 29.80 win from three weeks back, but probably capable of going around half a second better than that which would see him hard to beat.
Worm Burner (4) should improve after a look at the track last week and he will be suited by the lack of pace around him. With a 29.17 win at Angle Park to his name he is clearly the fastest dog in this race, he just needs a bit of luck in the early stages.
Jack Walker (8) is another speedy type who should be up near the lead early and could cause some havoc out in front. He is a last start winner so should have confidence on his side and he tends to go well from out wide on the track.
Diego Bale (1) is better than his form reads and is ideally positioned in box one to bounce back to his brilliant best.
Suggested bet: Each-way bet on Worm Burner at $7/$2.40 with Sportsbet
Race five – Melbourne Cup heat three – 8:25pm
Plenty of speed in this race. Aston Bolero (4) is a sensational front runner and he should lead this race for a long way despite the poor draw.
Zabdon Ferrari (6) will be aiming to match motors with Aston Bolero (6) early on and it is hard to fault him following on from his 29.33 debut over the track and trip last week.
Barton Bale (8) is the boom pup rising through the ranks, although he will face a tough challenge from box eight against some classy gallopers.
The value lies with One Samuel (1) which was far from disgraced when finishing second here last week and is ideally boxed on the inside. If he can hold his spot on the rails around the first turn he is capable of running slick times and could challenge the leaders swinging off the back straight.
Suggested bet: Each-way bet on One Samuel at $10/$3.30 with Sportsbet
Race six – Melbourne Cup heat four – 8:48pm
Zambora Brockie (6) is one of the country’s top sprinters and if he can do everything right on Friday they won’t beat him. He is blessed with good early dash and a fast 29.14 personal best over the track and trip, while he also clocked 29.17 when winning the Group 2 Sandown Shootout here last Friday. Won his past two starts and in one of the sport’s best kennels, hard to go past.
Pop The Cork (1) drops down from the middle distance trip following his third in the Group 1 Hume Cup (600m) at The Meadows on October 31. Not the fastest early but beautifully drawn to run a good race.
Mystery Ride (7) should get a nice run into the race on the outside of the favourite. He has a good record from the outside and was impressive when winning here last start in 29.49.
Mepunga Tyler (2) has been running well lately. Faces a steep rise in class but could figure in the placings.
Ritza Lenny (5) is a star chaser but will need plenty of luck from the squeeze box.
Suggested bet: PLACE bet on Mystery Ride at $2.45 with Sportsbet
Race seven – Melbourne Cup heat five – 9:08pm
Jesaulenko (1) has a good record at Sandown with a fast PB of 29.13. Should go well from the inside and just needs a bit of luck early to find the front and prove too good.
Blazin’ Bomber (7) returned to his best last start with a flying 29.74 win at The Meadows. Hasn’t got much speed on his inside so should be able to find a nice position early and could topple the favourite.
Unlawful Entry (8) is having his fourth run back from a spell and has been racing well without winning. Box eight is a little concern, but he is the track record holder at Sandown Park and is capable of just about anything on his night.
Buck Forty (5) is a machine but needs clear room in the early stages to wind up and may get crowded in this race off box five.
Suggested bet: WIN bet on Blazin Bomber at $4 with Sportsbet
Race eight – Melbourne Cup heat six – 9:28pm
Dundee Osprey (8) is possibly the best dog in the country at the moment and this is a drop in class on his most recent runs. He ran third in the Sandown Shootout last start but should get every chance to bounce back to his best and looks drawn to get a run into the race on the outside of Split Image (7). He proved two starts back he can handle box eight, winning the Group 1 Topgun off the pink at The Meadows.
Matt Machine (1) is a promising youngster and is better than his recent form reads. Perfectly boxed in the red and could run a nice race at odds.
Split Image (7) won well at her debut here last week and should have the pace to lead. Needs to improve on the clock, but should get every chance out in front.
Eren Bale (2) better than his form reads and has a good record over the track and trip. Well drawn on the inside and is definitely one for the multiples.
Suggested bet: WIN bet on Dundee Osprey at $1.95 with Crownbet
Race nine – Melbourne Cup heat seven – 9:48pm
Outside Pass (1) was far from disgraced when running second behind Zambora Brockie in the Shootout last week and gets the chance to go one better from the coveted rails alley in this race. She has an exceptional record wearing the red stretch vest and has trialled at the track in 29.10 which is fast enough to see her win here. Can be tardy at box rise but the draw helps.
Shima Song (5) comes into the series in terrific form, having won her past three including the Group 2 Geelong Cup. Box five does her no favours but there isn’t an abundance of speed in this event so she should be able to settle in a nice spot.
Demon Bale (6) is a fast greyhound on his night and can make an impact despite the horror draw.
Bruce Tycoon (4) is probably better suited over the middle distance but has a great record at Sandown Park and should be kept safe.
Suggested bet: Box trifecta 1/4/5/6
Race 10 – Melbourne Cup heat eight – 10:08pm
American Monster (3) can be tardy into stride but he has an enormous motor and he should get a nice run on the outside of the speedy Weekend Binge (2). Should be nice odds and may be worth an each-way investment.
Weekend Binge (2) is a speedy customer and should lead for most of the race. Boxed well near the fence and can run around the 29.40 mark which is probably going to be good enough to win.
Fanta Bale (1) is beautifully drawn and comes into the race having won the Group 1 Hume Cup at her most recent start. If she can hold her spot on the fence around the first turn she is capable of finishing strongly and could run over the top of them in the home straight.
Tripum (7) won well here last week in 29.33 but faces a rise in class for this race. Will need luck but capable of causing an upset if he can get a clear run early.
Suggested bet: PLACE bet on American Monster at $2.25 with Sportsbet
Race 11 – Bold Trease heat three – 10:30pm
A pretty even event but leaning the way of Azurite (6) which has won her past two starts coming into this series. She is only young and can do a few things wrong in her races, but she has a commanding 41.82 personal best over the testing 715m trip which is good enough to see her win this race.
Come On Fantasy (8) is the obvious danger. At nearly four the legs are much older than they once were but she is still racing well and only needs to run in the first two to qualify for the final.
Springvale Bryne (3) is arguably the best stayer in SA where she races over the tough 731m trip each week. She should be the early leader in this race and can improve off her 42.46 trial at Sandown Park last week.
Angie Rocks (2) fell last start at Traralgon, but is more than capable of mixing it with this lot if she is right.
Suggested bet: WIN bet on Azurite at $6.50 with Sportsbet
Race 12 – Bold Trease heat four – 10:49pm
Senator Monelli (4) defeated Ring The Bell last start which looks good on his rap sheet heading into this event. He is normally a good beginner and can find a forward spot in the early stages – from there he should be hard to hold out. Can definitely improve on his 42.17 winning time and book a spot in the final.
Jaimandy Hatty (6) is in stellar form, having won three of his past four starts over the staying trip. He has won two races over the track and trip with a PB of 42.26 which is enough to put him in contention for the title.
Wind Whistler (3) is getting on in age but is still capable of running out the gruelling trip and is very consistent.
Allen Oregon (5) is a promising young stayer which put in a good performance two starts back at The Meadows and can challenge if right.
Suggested bet: WIN bet on Senator Monelli at $2.90 with Sportsbet