This Thursday night Sandown Park hosts a wonderful night of racing including the Group 3 Macro Meats Shootout, The Group 3 Sir John Dillon Memorial (595m – $25,000 to winner), The Ready 2 Race Final ($20,000 to winner) and the VBIS Maiden Final ($12,000 to winner) not to mention the fourth instalment of this year’s TAB Melbourne Cup prelude events.
The Shootout, of course, is the feature event and this year it is the first race in Sandown Park’s new Million Dollar Triple Crown Initiative – with a bonus $500,000 to any greyhound that can win the Group 3 Shootout, The Group 1 TAB Melbourne Cup and either the Group 1 Sapphire (Bitches) or Group 1 Harrison-Dawson (Dogs) in the 2013/2014 season. The bonus prizemoney and first place cheques from each of these events would see that greyhound amass a remarkable $1,000,000 in earnings.
Like the recent Group 1 TOPGUN, the Shootout is a wonderful concept and race that starts the industry talking. Arguments are held for and against the race and its place on the calendar. The finalists in the $50,000 dollar winner take all event then face criticism and comments from throughout Australia as to why they can and can’t win. This year is the 15th running of the event and the winner will join a list of past winners and household names such as inaugural winner Reggemite (1998), 2000 champ Go Wild Teddy, Triple Crown hero Bombastic Shiraz (2003) and more recently speed freak Bekim Bale (2011).
Race 8 – The Group 3 Macro Meats Shootout – 9.42PM Victorian Time
Box 1 – Punch One Out (Knocka Norris – Little Egyptian)
The Grant Fennelly owned and trained Queensland sprint star who is the current Wentworth Park (29.27 – 520m) and Richmond (29.90 – 535m) track record holder. A last start 6th in the Group 1 TOPGUN when she missed the start and was never sighted. Four time group finalist who tasted success at Albion Park in the Group 3 Gold Coast Cup in early October 2013. Will be suited by the small field and prior to the TOPGUN trialled an almost track record run at The Meadows with a scorching 29.55 (525m). Three starts at the Sandown Park circuit with a best 29.32 set in May 2013. Overall career record of 45 starts resulting in 22 wins and 14 placing’s and earnings in excess of $127,000.
Box 3 – Dyna Nalin (Ashom Bale – Tally Bale)
The dual Group 1 winner is in career best form after coming off his second Group 1 victory in his last start TOPGUN success at The Meadows (Perth Cup also). Trained by leading mentor, Paul Stuart who put the polish on champion stayer Miata. Owned by The Wheeler Dynasty, this is the 5th Group final for the March 2011 black 34 kilogram sprinter. Normally a slow beginner he jumped well last start and he does possess exceptional field sense and the ability to power to the line and finish strongly. With just the four starters here he will have plenty of room to show his ability. Just 2 previous Sandown starts for 1 win in a moderate 29.68 seconds recorded back in February 2013. He has improved lengths since then and is much better than that. With 40 career starts returning 26 wins and 8 placing’s he has quickly amazed $435,000 in prizemoney.
Box 5 – Xylia Allen (Turanza Bale – Tayah Bale)
Australia’s wonderful sprinting bitch lining up for her 13th Group feature after a remarkable 2013 campaign with more still to come. She is the second starter owned by the Wheeler Dynasty. Fortunate to still be racing after the recent disqualification of her trainer G Bate, she is now prepared down the road by Victorian mentor Jenny Hunt. Luckless last start in the TOPGUN when exiting the same draw, she was the only making ground when others couldn’t, finishing 3rd. Another that will be suited by the small field of 4 and has shown countless times that she can overcome any trouble and setbacks during the course of the race. A greyhound that has travelled throughout Australia in 2013 and raced the best the country has to offer winning 4 Group events (Group 1 National Sprint, Group 1 Sapphire Crown, Group 1 Peter Mosman and Group 2 Launceston Cup). Brilliant career record of 45 starts for 18 wins and 17 placing’s and in excess of $400,000 in prizemoney. The Launceston Track Record holder (29.09 – 515m) has fast wins on most Australian circuits (Wentworth Park 29.47, Cranbourne 29.96, Meadows 29.63 and Geelong 25.52) and will look to make it Group success number 5 with victory in this.
Box 7 – Banjo Boy (Vee Man Vane – Off Springer)
Trained by Victorian Mentor Ken Virtue the Black and White April 2011 superstar is a greyhound on the up and with untapped ability as evidenced by his last start Warragul track record 29.51 – 460m. The veteran of just 21 career starts has recorded 13 wins and 4 seconds and over $50,000 in prizemoney – with 10 of his 13 wins in BON performances. The 34 kilogram sprint star faces his acid test in this event which is also his first Group final. The four dog field will suit the track specialist and allow him plenty of room and potential to showcase his sheer speed and ability. The second fastest dog ever around Sandown Park (29.01 – September 2013) is lightning out of the boxes and will be looking to lead and give the others something to catch.
1st Reserve – Crump (Superman – Mon Cherie)
The Troy Iwanyk trained chaser can consider himself unlucky not to gain a start after a wonderful 2013 campaign in which he has qualified in four group finals without luck or success. A greyhound with brilliant middle sections, he has recorded fast wins throughout Victoria including – Meadows (29.68 – 525m), Sale (29.52 – 520m) Warragul (25.58 – 460m) and Bendigo (23.67 – 425m). 31 career starts resulting in 15 wins and 7 placing’s including a fast 29.29 best at Sandown. Would be suited by the small four dog field.
2nd Reserve – Phenomenal (Collision – Tocsin)
Leading Victorian mentor Jason Thompson puts the polish on another up and coming superstar in Phenomenal. After news broke of the passing of his former great El Galo – it would be nice to see this up and comer gain a start here. A fast 29.27 personal best here posted in June 2013, he has recorded 9 wins and 3 placing’s from his 16 career starts. Yet to race at this level he is in the right hands where a win would not surprise for a young dog with plenty of ability and supporters throughout Australia.
Selections – 1 – 5 – 7 – 3
This year the Shootout field is made up of 2 distinct front runners in Punch One Out and Banjo Boy and 2 greyhounds that have the ability to work their way through a field and come from behind in Dyna Nalin and Xylia Allen. What is certain is that the race will be run and won, and the winner may just end up being the luckiest greyhound on the night.