SYDNEY’S leading trainer for 2016, Dean Swain, will be hoping to start the new year with a bang when he lines up in Saturday’s Group 2 Summer Plate (720m) with front running stayer Runway Bono (box four).
The red brindle dog recorded the fastest heat time last week, stopping the clock in 42.43 when saluting at double figure odds.
Swain said he was thrilled to see the 30.3-kilogram chaser perform so well, but concedes it wasn’t entirely expected.
“If I am being totally honest I was a little bit surprised by his heat win,” Swain told Australian Racing Greyhound.
“He has always been able to run fast times, but he isn’t a natural stayer so to make the step up in distance and run such a good time was a pleasant surprise.
“This is his second go over the ‘700’ and he has had more 600s this time in so I was expecting him to run the trip out better – but 42.40 is a very good run these days as the track has been pretty slow in recent times so I was very happy with his performance.”
Runway Bono will have to overcome box four to take out Saturday’s $40,000-to-the-winner feature, with Swain rating Burn One Down (box seven) and Ebby Ripper (box eight) as the main threats.
“I am not overly fussed on box four, however I do think he has the pace to lead.
“Obviously he is the type of dog which will have to find the front in the early stages, it is a very strong field and his best chance will be if he can get out and pinch a break.
“With that being said I am expecting him to be a bit stronger this week after his heat run – he should get a lot of benefit out of it.
“I haven’t done a lot with him this week – the run didn’t flatten him at all but I wanted to give him every chance to get over it and benefit from the hit out.
“He will still need some luck – there are a few drop out stayers which will be running on late – but I definitely think he is in with a chance of skipping away and pinching it.
“I am expecting Burn One Down to improve this week after a look at the track and Ebby Ripper was also a huge run last week so she will also be right in the race.”
A winner of 12 of his 36 starts with an additional eight minor placings, Swain says Runway Bono is developing into a better racer in comparison to the start of his career.
“He is definitely improving as a race dog – he used to be quite a moody dog which needed to have things his own way.
“To overcome that I started mixing his distances to enable him to get to the lead and to give him a bit more confidence.
“I think that has worked – he seems to be much more switched on now and it certainly wouldn’t surprise me to see him come out and run a real good race.”
Following the Summer Plate, Swain says he does not plan on keeping Runway Bono over the staying trip in the near future.
“I am not thinking of a long term campaign over the distance – he is a brilliant dog but he isn’t a natural stayer so I don’t think he would handle racing over the longer trip every week.
“I am thinking about giving him a freshen up soon – he has had a long campaign – and setting him for the Bulli Gold Plate over the sprint trip.”
The Group 2 Summer Distance Plate is race six at Wentworth Park this Saturday night and is set to jump at 9:12pm AEDT.
Group 2 Summer Distance Plate – market
Very Choosy $17
Celestial Folk $51
Dublin Bull $21
Runway Bono $4.80
It’s A Fling $8
Burn One Down $1.75
Ebby Ripper $6