FOUR finalists have been announced for the 2015/2016 Victorian Greyhound of the Year, with the winner to be crowned at Sandown Park on Friday night.
The title covers the entirety of 2015 and the first half of the 2016 calendar year and features two categories – Sprinter of the Year and Stayer of the Year – from which the overall Greyhound of the Year winner will be announced.
There are two finalists for the Victorian Sprinter of the Year, former kennel mates Dyna Double One and Fernando Bale, whilst No Donuts and retired champion Space Star will fight out a battle to be named Victorian Stayer of the Year.
Dyna Double One is undoubtably one of the best greyhounds the sport has seen, winning 31 of his 54 starts including four group 1 trophies.
Despite playing bridesmaid to Fernando Bale throughout much of his early career, the son of Barcia Bale and Crystin Bale announced his arrival on the top stage with a tremendous victory in the 2015 Melbourne Cup, running down ‘Flying Fernando’ to score in a brilliant 29.17.
The black powerhouse went on to win the Group 1 Australian Cup, the Group 1 Rookie Rebel and the Group 1 Brisbane Cup, while he was a finalist in a further 11 group finals, eight of which he placed in.
Dyna Double One will meet his old nemesis, Fernando Bale one more time in the race to be crowned Greyhound of the Year, with the white and dark brindle son tipped to win the state’s highest accolade.
A son of Kelsos Fusileer and Chloe Allen, Fernando Bale raced 40 times throughout the 2015/2016 season from which he registered 33 wins, three seconds and two thirds.
Amongst his victories were stunning triumphs in the Group 1 Topgun, the Group 1 Adelaide Cup, the Group 1 National Sprint Championship, the Group 1 Maturity Classic, the Group 1 Peter Mosman Classic, the Group 1 Harrison Dawson, the Group 1 Golden Easter Egg, the Group 1 National Derby, the Group 2 Traralgon Cup, the Group 2 Bendigo Cup and the Group 3 Bill Collins Memorial (he also placed second in the Group 1 Melbourne Cup and ran fifth in the Group 2 Ballarat Cup).
He retired as the highest stakes earner in the history of the sport, with a total of $1,293,110 to his name.
Turning to the stayers, No Donuts stamped himself as the finest front running distance dog of his generation throughout the 2015/2016 racing season – claiming the Group 1 Sale Cup, the Group 1 Zoom Top and the Group 2 Summer Distance Plate.
The son of Fabregas and Chevy Princess is owned by Brad Canty and has been trained by leading conditioner Anthony Azzopardi since making the move from NSW earlier in his career.
Also looking to win the title of Stayer of the Year and ultimately Greyhound of the Year is the now retired champ Space Star. Another former NSW greyhound, the black dog was transferred to the kennels of top trainer Rob Britton who guided him to victory in the Group 1 Association Cup, the Group 1 Zoom Top, the Group 1 Galaxy, the Group 2 Summer Distance Plate and the Group 3 Wentworth Park Gold Cup.
One of the greatest racing tragedies of modern time, the son of Bekim Bale and Tonto Tears was forced into retirement at just over three due to persistent injuries, otherwise his feature wins may have seen him become one of the greatest stayers to have ever graced the track.
The Victorian Greyhound of the Year accolade is the main award to be handed out on Friday night, however there are a range of other awards to be announced including inductees into the GRV Hall of Fame, the Ken Carr Medal, the GRV Welfare award, the Ned Bryant ‘Silver Fox’ Award, the Metropolitan Trainer of the Year award and the Provincial Trainer of the Year award.