The eagerly anticipated Group One Melbourne Cup is scheduled to jump at 9:24pm (VIC time) tonight at Sandown Park.
A whopping prize-money pool of $600,000 is available for place-getters. The winner receives $420,000, the runner up will receive $120,000 and third grabs hold of $60,000 – not too shabby for a 29 second run.
The Melbourne Cup was first conducted at Sandown Park in 1956. The race has come a long way since. In this year's edition a number of story lines thread their way into the race.
If Keybow wins, he will break the Australian prize-money record and will make his trainer, Darren McDonald the first trainer to win four Melbourne Cups. If Above All wins he will become just the second greyhound from New Zealand to take out the great event. That feat was last achieved 40 years ago.
Kelvin Lean (Owner): “It is a good draw, it's unbelievable. I think in these big races you have got to be on the inside and there is so much speed in this race that the inside is definitely the place to be.”
Doreen Drynan (Trainer): “It is the same box that she won the National Sprint from but she seems to go better when she is drawn out on the track a little bit. She seems to be able to pace up a lot quicker because she is inclined to step a bit to the right when she comes out of the boxes.”
Robert Britton (Trainer): “He doesn't have the early pace that others have in this field. What he has shown me is that he is fearless in taking gaps, so hopefully he can get a soft early run into the first turn and take any gap that may be presented to him.”
Bradley Canty (Owner): The draw is not good for him with the six, seven and eight all going to be crashing across from out wide with pace. He has speared the lids and come out running a couple of times like when he won the Harrison- Dawson and in a heat of the Brisbane Cup he came up two in front, but I think whatever dog leads that race will probably win.
Justin Wright (Owner): “Box one helped her last week and I would imagine the track was a bit quicker than it normally is but we were still chuffed with how she went. It will be very different this week and I don't think she has the pace to beat the other seven to the first corner. There is going to be a lot of early speed and she is a mad railer, she will look for the rails straight out of the boxes. I reckon her only hope is if she misses it a little bit and then goes straight to rail and if there is a little bit of trouble on the corner that she can rail up underneath. It is going to be tough but you have got to be in it to win it. She will give 100% and whatever happens, happens.”
Kevin Dover (Owner): “Hopefully she can ping the lids and get up with them near the lead going into the first turn. She is not a mad railer, she holds her line to the first turn, so that should help her too.”
Gerald Kleeven (Trainer): “I reckon he can get across and I like him out there. It depends on what the pink (Dyna Villa) does but he (Luca Neveelk) is a pretty big dog so the pink shouldn't push him out of the way. He just needs clear room in the first one or two strides and then he has got that massive early pace. Whatever gets out in front will win, there is no two ways about it, because you have got seven other dogs with equal ability behind you and they usually all look to go to the rails and they will be in a bunch. If you are lucky enough to get to the front I'd imagine you would be laughing.”
ARG Comment: Dyna Villa is unbeaten at the track and unbeaten from the box. He showed tremendous pace last week from box six to defeat My Bro Fabio by 1 1/4 lengths. He recorded his best time in the process. A repeat of the pace from last week will see him contesting the lead in the early stages. He has to be considered a big chance based on his form.
ARG Comment: Will rocket right into contention if he gets a start. Although he is tardy at box-rise at times, he is a freakishly fast dog that is capable of anything.
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Keybow (1) is currently the favourite from the prized rails alley. He just needs an ounce of luck early to stamp his authority on the race but there will be plenty of others in the field looking to challenge him.
Dyna Villa (8) is boxed out wide and possesses the best record of any dog in the race as he is unbeaten at the track and unbeaten from the draw. He is the fastest qualifier going into the final after stopping the clock at 29.21 in last week's heats. His sections across the board were great and he will prove hard to beat if he repeats last week's efforts.
Luca Neveelk (7) will be challenging for the lead early. He needs to be in front at the first turn to be any chance.
Awesome Project (4) has a mile of ability and seems to be flying under the radar a little due to the focus on his kennel mate. He came out last week to lead all the way and he is more than capable of doing that from box four.
Chica Destacada (2) was impressive last week and she is drawn to go well again. Her trainer has indicated that she may step right out of the boxes but she has the form from the box, winning the National Sprint earlier this year from the same draw.
The Kiwi's will all be cheering for Above All (3). While he will need some luck in the early stages, he has made the final and certainly has a big future ahead of him as he has come into the race with just 10 starts under his belt.
Cosmic Wise (5) and Star Recall (6) both have Western Australian connections and will be aiming to give the West something to cheer for. The draws are not great for either chaser but, as with all the other chasers in this final, they are in with a chance.
It should be a great race so be sure to tune in or get trackside.