Tasmanian stayer Bell Haven will return to the mainland tonight to defend her title in the Group 3 Bohemia Crystal Sydney Cup at Wentworth Park. Bell Haven claimed the race last year when defeating Ebby Miss by three lengths in a speedy 42.25s. However, she will face a tough test tonight when she exits box four in the $25,000 to the winner final.
The Ted Medhurst-trained greyhound has only been lightly raced since finishing second behind Lashing Jill in the Tasmanian Distance Championship- with her last start heat performance just her second start back since August. Beginning well from box six, the black bitch parked behind the leader for much of the race and stuck on well to finish second behind the fast finishing Set Sail South.
Medhurst said that he had specifically targeted the Sydney Cup series with Bell Haven, rather than some of the other staying features that have been held around the nation in recent weeks. Given that it was her first run back for nearly a month, Medhurst was also pleased with her performance last Saturday
“I was pleased with her run last week. She has had a few injury problems which we have tried to manage and I think we have got a hold of them now”
“We purposely decided that as she started to get on (in age) that we would basically race her at Wentworth Park- about every month they have a decent race up there and she has shown a real liking for the track”.
“The only other distance race that was on was at The Meadows and, although she got beat a nose there in a Group 1, she is yet to win on the track. So, we decided to avoid the Meadows this time and just concentrate on the Wentworth Park race”.
Heading into the event, Medhurst considers it to be a fairly even affair. The Mangalore mentor admits that he would have preferred to see his distance diva drawn out wide, but still thinks she can feature in the finish if she places herself prominently in the early stages.
“I think that the wider the draw for her, the better. It’s a very strong and even field. The depth of the field is very strong so if any of the four, five or even six top contenders do something wrong the other dogs will beat them”
“If we have a bit of luck we will be there, but if we have a bit of bad luck we mightn’t be”
“I haven’t had a real good look at the speed maps of the race, but to be a winning chance I think she would want to be in the first four early. As I said, there are some really good dogs in there which are just as good as her and you can’t give them too much of a start”.
Medhurst also believes that Bell Haven will have derived confidence from last week’s run, with her previous start at the Glebe circuit a rough and tough event from the get-go
“I think the run last week brought her forward a little bit and has done her confidence a bit of good. Last time she raced she got flattened and got bumped a fair bit, but last week to run a nice even race and get to the line good we were pleased and conversely her confidence seems to have lifted a bit”
The daughter of Head Bound and It’s A She left for Sydney yesterday in order to prepare for tonight’s feature. Following their usual routine, Bell Haven will be handled by group winning trainer Debbie Cannan . Cannan part owns the bitch with fellow Tasmanian Russel Milner, who also owned former TOPGUN hero No Intent.
“She has followed the same regime this week as she does every time that she races interstate- she flies out the day before the race and she will be back home the day after the race”.
“Deb’s the type of person that it doesn’t matter whether they run last or win, she still loves them. She loves the animal and she gives them a kiss and pat every time she sees them irrespective of whether it’s before or after the race”
At just over three and a half years of age, Bell Haven is entering the twilight stage of her career. With a great record of 62 starts for 26 wins and 18 minor placings, Medhurst says that he is happy to continue racing her until she decides she has had enough of the racing caper
“She is marvellous, we think the world of her and it’s all about her. When she is not Bell Haven and if she doesn’t perform well for a few starts in a row then we will seriously consider retirement.”
“She has done everything for us and the main thing is her, we just think the world of her- the owners love her. I just respect her so much because of the traveling she has done. She has been so unlucky in a couple of big races but in our eyes she has been just magnificent”
“To win a Sydney Cup with her last year was a dream and if we could do that with her again it would be wonderful- more for the dog than anybody else”.
The Group 3 Bohemia Crystal Sydney Cup is race eight tonight at Wentworth Park and will jump at 9:47pm.