Australia’s best bitches are on show at Sandown Park tonight for the heats of Australia’s richest race for bitches, the $72,500 Group 1 Solo Sapphire Crown.
Boasting combined career prizemoney of over $2.4 million, including five individual Group 1 winners, the heats are the best in many years and ensures a cracking final next Thursday night.
The first heat (race 5, the first leg of the quaddie) sees recent Paws of Thunder winner and Topgun third placegetter One Tree Hill jump from box 7. One Tree was runner up in this race last year and despite recently turning four, is racing in career best form and has now boosted her career prizemoney to over $265,000. Desperate for the rails, she will need some luck from the wide box, especially with recent Bill Collins Memorial winner Violet Crumble drawn well in box 3. Hot Puzzle has been racing will through Gippsland recently and did make the final of the Group 1 Laurels final in June.
Defending champ Que Sera Sera jumps from box 4 in race 6. It will be her first start since a disappointing 7th in a semi final of New Zealand’s Platinum Paws series, but she races well at the Lightwood Road circuit boasting six wins and five placings from her 20 starts at the venue. Paul Bartolo’s Sweet About Me is the likely favourite for the race. Sweet About Me is one Australia’s most exciting up and coming bitches, having won seven races in her 12 race career and only once finishing out of the placings. She was an unlucky runner up in the Group 2 South Australian Oaks, has three wins and a third from four Sandown Park starts including a personal best of 29.59. Amelia Bale and Okay Supreme have been mixing it in good class of late and are not without claims, while exciting New South sprinter Gun Sort has drawn box 6 in her first Victorian start since running third in the Multicam Twin Cities final.
Betty Angel, the winner of the 2006 Sapphire Crown-Melbourne Cup double, starts her third Sapphire Crown campaign from box 3 in race seven. The three time Group 1 winner showed she close to her best with a fast finishing second in last week’s World Class Sires special event, and should be close to peak fitness after a long lay off. Bora Bale and I Got Mojo are fast breakers and have drawn well in boxes one and two respectively, while West Australian speed machine Miss Slick, last-start winner of the Group 2 WA All Star Sprint, makes her Victorian debut from box 6.
Betty’s Angel’s litter-sister Miss Mini Mouse has won three of her five starts since coming out of retirement and was impressive in her win in last week’s World Class Sires, albeit in 30.35. She’s drawn well in box 2 and is capable of again leading through the first turn. Hybrid Theory is attempting to repeat AGRA Hall of Famer Paua’s To Burn’s 2004 feat of completing the Laurels-Sapphire Crown double. If successful, she’ll pocket a $10,000 bonus. She is racing in good form, but has to overcome box 6 to progress to next week’s final. Finlandia is capable of running time but is slow early and will need a clear run early, while fromer West Australian Touch Up will better for her first look at the track.
Queen Lauryn has again drawn poorly in box 6 but is a multiple track record holder and at her best, one of the best chasers in Australia. Alotto Mojo started favourite for the Laurels in June, but is not ideally suited in box 1. Group 2 Traralgon Cup winner Keeko Bale has been close without winning of late, while Blachura Bale has been racing well but steps up in class here.
The boxdraw for the final of the Group 1 Solo Sapphire Crown will be conducted oncourse following race 10 and will be available on www.sandowgreyhounds.com.au from 10.30pm.