The Apple Isle’s most prestigious series, the Group One Hobart Thousand, kicks off this Thursday night at Hobart with eight heats of the time honoured feature. Each heat victor will go through to the $75,000 to the winner final which will be held the following Thursday on December 18.
The Hobart Thousand is the oldest feature race in Australia and was first run back in 1935 as the Hobart Cup at the old TCA grounds. It was first run as the Hobart Thousand in 1939 before reverting back to the the Hobart Cup in 1942 for two years. The race was not held in 1944 or 1945 due to the war but recommenced in 1946 as the Hobart Thousand and has remained under that name to this day.
The Tassie race has been won by some stars of the sport including Rookie Rebel (1958), Ophir Doll (1961-62), Benjamin John (1969), Black Aztec (1981), Brother Fox (1985) and Dyna Tron (2011).
Lets have a look at the heats of this year’s race.
Heat One – 7:58pm
The first lot of Victorian raiders step out in the first heat, looking to dominate yet another feature race series.
Hekate Belle (1) is a classy bitch but she can be hard to catch as she does tend to be hit and miss at the start. Box one should be a big advantage for her and she boasts a great record from the cherry with six starts for three wins and two minor placings. As a recent 29.29 winner at Sandown, she is definitely one to keep an eye out for from the inside.
Scenic Shot (3) will start very close to favourite in the opener. She comes into the series as a last start winner at Warrnambool where she clocked a BON 25.42. The Victorian city winner will be aiming to emulate the feats of her father, Dyna Tron, which won the race in 2011, while her trainer, Michelle Mallia-Magri, took out the 2012 running with Blackalls Boss.
Señor Slamma (8) is the best local shot in the heat and is one of the most consistent sprinters in Tasmania at present. The well named son of El Grand Señor and Tequila Mall has only been beaten once in his past 11 starts and he has run 25.88 over the track and distance. He only has one win from six starts wearing pink but he is a quality dog and should be right in contention for a berth in the final.
Heat Two – 8:19pm
The second heat will see just seven runners face the starter. 2014 Melbourne Cup winner Dyna Villa (4) is one of the most promising chasers in the country but he will have to contend with an awkward draw in box four. He comes into the race following his last start in a heat of the Ballarat Cup where he finished third behind the eventual series winner Luca Neveelk. He has trialled in 25.92 in preparation for this assignment so despite the poor draw he is right in the race if he can get some clear galloping room early.
Top Secret (2) is another Victorian which has won 11 races from 41 career starts. He has been racing a little below his best at his last few runs, albeit against top company, but if he can find his feet he is a great shot.
Wynburn Wizard (6) is a local chaser capable of breaking the 26 second barrier which puts him right into calculations. The box won’t help but he is a very consistent boy as a winner of nine from 22 and he will only need a little bit of luck to feature in the finish.
The remainder of the field are pretty even. Pipstar (8) could provide a bit of value, she has won four at the track with a best time of 26.05 and she wont mind being drawn out wide in the pink.
Heat Three – 8:41pm
Size Does Matter (3) is a recent edition to the Rodney Ransley kennel in Tassie, transferring from Brooke Ennis late last month. Ennis still owns the son of Bekim Bale and Size It Up and will be hoping that he can go better than his Tasmanian debut where he finished fifth behind Señor Slamma. He has only won once from four attempts from box three. Looking at his box statistics, it is interesting to note that he has won eight of his 14 races from box one, which he has drawn 11 times during his 33 start career.
Blurred Lines (4) is capable of putting some slick times on the board but he can be hard to catch. He has been racing some great dogs lately so his form is probably better than it reads, but he still has a tough task ahead from box four.
Brunys Venture (7) looks to be a very promising youngster, but this will be his biggest test to date from box seven. He has run BON times at Hobart, Devonport and Launceston throughout his career and has won two of his last three over the track and distance. Definitely the leading local hope in this heat.
Heat Four – 9:05pm
Quartz Bale (2) has been dominant in his limited starts back home in WA, winning nine of 11 racetrack appearances to date. The 38 kilogram light fawn dog is in the hands of Paul Stuart and has had a look at the track last Saturday, running 25.98 on trial morning. Being such a big boy, it does take him a while to find top gear, but he does have plenty of upside and will only need a bit of luck in running to go close to winning.
Ride The Rails (5) bounced back to his best form with a dazzling 29.23 Sandown victory last week. Now trained by Kelly Bravo, the son of Cosmic Chief and Pearl Napoleon has the potential to blow this field away if he brings his best on Thursday night.
Punk Pirate (3) heads to Hobart from Victoria as a winner of five of his past seven starts. He had no luck in his heat of the Ballarat Cup, finishing seventh behind Blue Giant. He is more than capable of reversing that result and going close here.
That Was Then (6) is a track specialist which has won eight races at Hobart while Get It Right (7) and Night Tremors (8) have had just 16 and 13 starts respectively. Both have strong strike rates and look like they can make the step up in class.
Heat Five – 9:25pm
Tasmanian champ Buckle Up Wes (1) is a dual Group One winner which will be looking to score his first success at the elite level in his home state. He put in an average run last start at Hobart but he is the class runner of the race and he is undoubtably the one to beat. He loves the track, as a winner of eight from 14 with a best of 25.77. He would probably be better boxed a few off the rails but he still has a fantastic record from the red with four wins from five starts.
Hellyeah Bolt (5) hasn’t been racing at his best recently but he has a 25.76 personal best here and is too good to leave out when on song, despite having to overcome box five.
Waymore’s Blues (6) looked like being an outstanding sprinter earlier in his career but he has been a little disappointing. I still maintain that he is capable of winning a group race, just not sure he is going well enough for this to be the one.
Punk Panther (2) is a more than handy sprinter but this will be a big test for him.
Heat Six – 9:45pm
Some great youngsters engaged in this heat including Kicking Rocks (7) from the Darren McDonald kennel. Despite winning nine from 21, I don’t think people realise how fast this bloke actually is. Earlier this year he broke his maiden in at The Gardens in an airborne 29.30, a time usually reserved for Group class greyhounds. He should be right in this race after trialling in 26.09 on a slow track.
Big Ticket (3) looks like being the real deal too and the Victorian pup will be having his first race start at Hobart after a 25.96 trial last Thursday. He loves the inside so should be suited in box three.
Axis Bale (6) has only had nine starts but has shown promise. He will have to overcome box six but he does look to be very talented.
Heat Seven – 10:08pm
Above All (4) hasn’t had a start since finishing fourth in the Group One Melbourne Cup last month but the former Kiwi has run 25.84 in a trial to prepare for his Hobart debut. A winner of six races from just 10 starts, it is a testament of his class that he has been able to mix it with the best Australia has to offer so successfully with such little experience. He will be a short favourite.
Good Odd Demons (1) is a little below his best and doesn’t have a great record at Hobart, but he has his favourite draw from which he has recorded five wins from seven starts.
Winsome Tommy (8) has won two at the track and doesn’t mind being boxed out wide, but he will probably need to improve on his 26.32 pb to win the race.
Heat Eight – 10:28pm
White Spyro (5) is back to her best and has had one start at Hobart for a 26.26 win last month. You would expect her to improve on that time with a look at the track.
National Time (6) has been mixing his form but is right up to this class. He has won six races from box six so, although it is not ideal, he should be able to overcome the poor draw.
Buckle Up Fletch (7) is a younger half brother to Tassie champ Buckle Up Wes and he looks to have his fair share of ability. He doesn’t mind being off the track so I can’t see box seven posing any issues.
Walk Hard (3) is yet to win in his two starts since returning from a spell but he is a very fast animal on the bunny. He made the final of the Hobart Thousand two years ago, it would be an incredible achievement to contest the 2014 edition too.