O’Keeffe confident ahead of National Distance Championship

RING The Bell will be aiming to land a third consecutive win for Victoria in the final of the Group 1 National Distance Championship (731m) at Angle Park on Saturday night.

Trained by Gerry O’Keeffe, Ring The Bell is the $2.50 favourite with Bet365 to take out the $75,000 feature, coming into the race following his dazzling 41.53 win in the Victorian State qualifier at Sandown Park.

O’Keeffe, albeit taken aback by the slick time, enthused that the brindle dog is hitting his straps following a recent campaign in the Sunshine State where he won the Listed Super Stayers at Albion Park.

“Ever since he went to Queensland for the Gold Cup and the Super Stayers and was in the care of Tony and Marie Zammit he seems to have improved dramatically,” O’Keeffe told Australian Racing Greyhound.

“He has come home much more mature and he seems to be a more consistent chaser.

“Everything went his way in the Victorian final, he got to the rails reasonably early and proved to be incredibly strong.

“The odds-on favourite was Jason Thompson’s Burn One Down but he found a bit of trouble back in the field and Ring The Bell was able to get away.

“We were very happy to see him qualify.”

A son of Kinloch Brae and Absolute Stunna, Ring The Bell comes into the final having won 14 of his 44 starts with a further 15 minor placings, with a victory set to take his career earnings just under the $200,000 mark.

Despite having drawn ideally in box two, Ring The Bell will face a tough task against representatives from all other states around the country, notably Queensland’s Big Easy Red (box one) and NSW duo Cardiology (box six) and Whittaker (box eight).

O’Keeffe said his greyhound his feeling terrific ahead of the decider and is hoping the race is run the same on the night as it has been in his recent dreams.

“He has only had one trial since winning at Sandown and he hasn’t been off the lead now for about seven or eight days.

“He is naturally a very strong dog and we don’t need to gallop him on a regular basis…we are very happy with how he is coming along heading into the final.

“I have a huge amount of respect for all of the other representatives and the way the box draw has fallen it certainly favours us and Big Easy Red from Queensland in box one.

“The way I see the race unfolding in my head I think Big Easy Red will lead and I am hoping we can get about a length and a half behind him.

“[Ring The Bell] is very much suited by the rails draw and I think if everything goes to plan he will be tracking Big Easy Red throughout the first 600-or-so metres and then I think it will be a fantastic race to the line.”

The Group 1 National Sprint Championship is race six on the card at Angle Park this Saturday night and is set to jump at 7:49pm.

Group 1 National Sprint Championship – market

Box 1 – Big Easy Red – $3.25
Box 2 – Ring The Bell – $2.50
Box 3 – Senator Monelli – $10
Box 4 – Parsec Bale – $21
Box 5 – Springvale Bryne – $8.50
Box 6 – Cardiology – $4.50 with Bet365
Box 7 – Mahalo Miss – $101
Box 8 – Whittaker – $10
1st Res – She’s A Looper – $26
2nd Res – Mclaren Missile – $101