It is being billed as a clash between two of Australia’s most exciting stayers, but in reality it is much more than that.
This Thursday night Sandown Park will host the final of the AGRA National Distance Championship Victorian Final. It is likely to be the most anticipated of all of the state finals in both the sprint and distance events.
If nothing else, it is most definitely equal of the quality of any group one event over the longer trip that you are likely to see in the next 12 months.
A quick snapshot of the field shows champion bitch Xylia Allen, multiple Group One winner Sweet It Is along with other Group winners Born Ali, Dyna Willow and Mepunga Tiara, what a race!
The winner will collect $12,000 and book their place in the national final at Cannington on August 23rd.
Here is a look at the field and the current fixed odds prices at Sportingbet;
1 – Mepunga Tiara ($5.50) – Jeff Britton – A very consistent bitch who had made multiple Group finals before she finally broke through by winning the Group Two Victorian Distance Championship at The Meadows recently. Loves to do her work from in front and has finished in the top two in six of her eight appearances from box one. She registered a personal best of 41.95 in her heat win. She has not missed a place in her four starts at Sandown Park and should she find the front early, she will be a major player here.
2 – Xylia Allen ($2.60) – Jenny Hunt – Australia’s champion sprinter/stayer who is nearing the all-time stakes earnings record set by Miata. She was back to winning form in her heat with a swift 41.70 win which was her 10th win in her last 11 starts. She is the one to beat and if she is anywhere near her best, she is unstoppable.
3 – Looby Lu – SCRATCHED
4 – Sweet It Is ($2.40) – Darren McDonald – A dual Group One winning bitch who’s racing style has thrilled race-goers in recent times. She is yet to break the 42-second barrier at Sandown Park in winning four of her eight starts there. If she gets a clean crack at them then she will be flying home late. Luck in the running is everything to her chances.
5 – Dyna Willow ($8.50) – Steve Collins – Possibly the forgotten dog of the field who has her fourth start back from a three-month layoff in this race. She has won four of her seven starts from box five and has a personal best winning time of 41.99. She has been a bit slow away from the boxes in her three second-placings since her return and will need to be closer to the pace to be a winning hope.
6 – Born Ali ($34) – Robert Britton – The Group One Galaxy winner who has been racing well below her best of late. She has not won since late March and has a less than flattering record at Sandown Park with just one win from seven starts. This race looks too tough for her on current form.
7 – Zipping Rory ($10) – Bethany Daprain – The youngster of the field who speared the lids and set the time standard of 41.67 in last week’s heats. He is yet to salute in two goes from box seven but if he can come out again like last week he will not be far off the pace. He looks to be the knockout chance.
8 – Liara Allen ($34) – Steve Collins – A consistent bitch who has only recently graduated to top-tier racing. She is yet to win beyond 700 metres which is a concern in this sort of company. It would be a surprise to see her winning this.
9 – Echelonic Action ($41) – Robert Camilleri – A brother to Sweet It Is who has been racing constantly over the middle distances but is yet to win beyond 700 metres. This looks like a very tough assignment for him.
10 – Zipping Joe ($20) – Darren McDonald – A Sandown Cup and Victorian Distance Championship finalist who would not be out of place in this final. Needs a bit of luck during his races due to his lack of box manners but has a big motor and will be running on.