It’s a great time of year for greyhound fans, as the best dogs in the nation begin their road-trips in search of the nation’s biggest prizes. We’ve had the Brisbane Cup, Ballarat Cup and now the Christmas Gift in Sydney is underway too, but this Thursday night Tasmania get their slice of the limelight, with the famous Group 1 Hobart Thousand series.
In a similar trend to the Adelaide and Brisbane Cups, there was only enough nominations for six heats to be staged, but don’t let that fool you into thinking it’s not worth your attention. With the quality of dogs engaged, it will be one of the talking points of the year. The tough U-turn track has taken its fair share of scalps in the past, so rest assured that those putting the polish on the more credentialed runners will be taking nothing for granted.
HOBART THOUSAND HEAT ONE
Field (in box order): Fancy Amigo, Buckle Up Wes, Bain’s Lane, See Him First, Yappin’ Jack, Egotistical, Simply Wunder, Paw Licking.
What a start to the series. Victorian dog, Paw Licking will be favourite after making just about every one-turn final in the past twelve months, but comes up against two of the best locals going around. Buckle Up Wes has threatened to break the track record on multiple occasions and draws ideally here, while Yappin’ Jack’s form has been second to none when he jumps well.
Watch out for See Him First who will likely get room early despite the middle draw, and has found his groove over the sprint trips in recent weeks. He might be the knockout dog with the right run.
If Paw Licking jumps to the front, he’ll be good enough to hold on, but any hesitation out of the boxes will leave him stranded. With such depth in the race, and without ever seeing the track, he’s worth risking.
From the others, Fancy Amigo, who hasn’t won since July, and West Aussie speedster Egotistical look out of their depth in a hot heat, but can fill the minor end of the prize.
Selections – See Him First, Buckle Up Wes, Yappin’ Jack, Paw Licking
HOBART THOUSAND HEAT TWO
Field (in box order): Tiger Toes, Hellyeah Bolt, Nicholas Jack, Fryston, Black Bessie, Clone Your Own, Pedro’s Runaway, Dark Warrior.
Hellyeah Bolt is drawn to win this. He’s still only young, but his box manners are best on this track and once he hits top gear they won’t catch him. He’ll run sub-26 and qualify comfortably.
Dark Warrior started his career in Tassie and made the final last year as an unbeaten youngster. He’s older and more seasoned this time around and will adore box eight with no pace directly inside. He will be in the race the entire way.
Clone Your Own will be coming from the second half of the pack, but will appreciate the wide draw and the long Hobart straight. The former Kiwi is racing better than his recent starts suggest and he can go close.
For those looking for value, Nicholas Jack will get a lovely trail into the race between Hellyeah Bolt and Frytson who wants the outside fence. He races best on this track and could run a place at big odds.
Selections – Hellyeah Bolt, Dark Warrior, Clone Your Own, Nicholas Jack
HOBART THOUSAND HEAT THREE
Field (in box order): Urana Galore, Pinto Pronto, Queen Ahmose, Shingo, Ronan Izmir, Distorted, New Gleam, Teddy Tom Boy
Jason Thompson has been gifted qualification for Ronan Izmir here. The Ballarat Cup winner couldn’t have drawn a more ideal heat with no early pace anywhere near him. Even if he bombs the start, which is unlikely, he’ll muster too quickly for this lot and romp away at unbackable odds.
Pinto Pronto and Queen Ahmose are the most talented locals in the event. The latter comes off a middle-distance win at Sandown last week but in fairness; she was lucky to win that race and faces a challenge coming back from the mainland and into a top-class sprint race. Pinto Pronto looks the more likely out of the two.
Teddy Tom Boy will fire out the boxes, and once Ronan Izmir has whizzed underneath, he’ll be sitting second for the majority of the journey. He can get tired over the concluding stages though, which stops him from running the slick times required in the top grades.
New Gleam will be better for the look it had last week, and Ted Medhurst would be expecting improvement from the former banana-bender. It might be the way to go if you’re looking to make the trifecta worth getting.
Selections – Ronan Izmir, Pinto Pronto, Teddy Tom Boy, New Gleam
HOBART THOUSAND HEAT FOUR
Field (in box order): Nicknac Norris, Farmor Las Vegas, Queen of Speed, Ready To Rock, Hellyeah Missile, Enfield Fire, Oscar Ralph, Party Monster
It seems the ‘seeding’ of heats is at work again, as Farmor Las Vegas appears past the post. His box manners can be very hard to predict, and with Hobart being a tough track to race well at first look, it wouldn’t surprise me if the favourite had to do it the hard way. It won’t matter though; he’ll be too good for any of these.
Party Monster will be the only other dog under double-figures. The dominance of the Tasmanian Gold Cup victory came as a surprise, but that form is enough to suggest he comfortably runs a place with any luck.
Oscar Ralph will be specked at odds too, but he prefers the inside and will find chasers all around him at the half way point.
Ready To Rock will predictably be running on out wide on the track, and might sneak a place at 50/1.
Selections – Farmor Las Vegas, Party Monster, Ready To Rock, Hellyeah Missile
HOBART THOUSAND HEAT FIVE
Field (in box order): Black Magic Opal, Club Foot, Elite Devil, Mar Mac, Walk Hard, Jungle Hero, Roxy Rythym, Rewind
This will be the most watched race of the night. Not just because the fastest greyhound in Australia is engaged but also because of the possible fairytale.
Obviously Black Magic Opal is going to be the toughest to beat. But there won’t be a person in the country that would begrudge Maurie Strickland and Rewind a third consecutive crack at the Thousand. Having been runner-up the past two years, Rewind is set to grace the track again at almost five years of age after his retirement was announced in October.
Realistically, Black Magic Opal bolts in. But there are two qualification spots up for grabs for the fastest runners-up, and anyone with an interest in Taswegian racing will be watching the clock with intensity.
Flying under the radar will be Walk Hard, who was tremendous at Hobart in this series last year. He faces an awkward alley, but is racing well around Victoria’s provincial circuits. Look for him to muster up between runners.
Elite Devil, who had a run at Elwick two weeks ago, returns for the main event also. This is tougher than his recent assignments, but the second behind Black Rip was enough to warrant respect from a place perspective.
Roxy Rythym and Club Foot are the best of the rest and can also sneak third without surprising.
Selection – Black Magic Opal, Rewind, Walk Hard, Elite Devil.
HOBART THOUSAND HEAT SIX
Field (in box order): Varcoe, Sir Slater, Proven Fantasy, Rumbling Rick, Black Rip, Bell Oh Moss, Sing The Song, Rockvel.
So we come to the last, and we finally have another good betting race.
With the exception of Rockvel and Sir Slater, all other runners have a genuine chance of placing, and perhaps even winning.
While Varcoe will be favourite from the red, Rumbling Rick looks better placed to win a race of such calibre. Another chaser that started his career on the Apple Isle, the now West Aussie talent has become an impressive greyhound, qualifying for the National Sprint final in August. Feeling right at home, he went 29.78 at Launceston recently and his effort on this track last week was admirable too. Despite drawing four, Rumbling Rick is poised to get clear running thanks to Proven Fantasy’s affinity with the fence.
Varcoe has enjoyed a meteoric rise since jumping straight from juveniles to a dominant invitation win over Buckle Up Wes two starts back. He missed the kick last week, and up against the big kids here he looks suspect at the expected short quote.
Bell Oh Moss will fly out, but isn’t racing at her best. This will still give Sing The Song a lovely trail into the race, and its best is as capable as any. The wide draw will be no problem and Sing The Song becomes a genuine chance of making it to a Group 1 final.
Finally, Black Rip has settled in well since coming down from NSW and is another that provides a good hope in an open race to finish on.
Selections – Rumbling Rick, Sing The Song, Black Rip, Bell Oh Moss.