2015 Group 2 Bendigo Cup – Greenough’s duo out to cause upset

will have two chances to claim back-to-back Bendigo Cups on Friday night, but the Pearcedale mentor concedes it may be mission impossible up against the freakish Fernando Bale.

Greenough, who won the 2014 feature with Paw Licking, prepares Billo’s Pick (box two) and Breathing Fire (box four) which are drawn either side of team Dailly’s white and dark brindle champion.

Billo’s Pick, $12 with Bet365, is a son of Where’s Pedro and Macie Bell and has won 14 of his 22 starts including his last eight in succession. The brindle dog clocked 23.77 in claiming his heat over the 425-metre trip last Sunday, giving his owner, Darryl Armfield, his first Group finalist.

“He has won eight in a row now, but that number will probably come to an end on Friday night,” Greenough said.

“He is a really nice dog with a terrific owner who is flying down with his dad to watch the race which is great to see. 

“He generally puts himself in the picture, but realistically no one could expect to beat Fernando Bale – he just seems to be a class above everyone else.”

Greenough’s other competitor is Breathing Fire, $34, which scored his 23.88 heat win at double figure odds at what was his first start since joining Greenough’s kennel.

“I didn’t really know much about Breathing Fire and I guess you only learn as the dog starts to race, so I decided to put him in the heats and it worked out well.

“I generally give dogs more time to settle in before I race them but I didn’t with him because he came down in excellent condition and was looking so well.”

Greenough is honest about his chances in the $47,000-to-the-winner feature, realising that he will likely be competing for place prize money behind a greyhound some experts are labelling ‘the best’.

“I know realistically the only way anyone could beat the dog (Fernando Bale) is if something unfortunate were to happen and nobody wants to see that.

“I think he is great for greyhound racing, he is a sensational talent and the industry really needs a dog like him to help us rise above all the troubles we have had in recent months.”

Fernando Bale, the $1.25 favourite with Sportsbet, has won 22 of his 27 starts, including his last 14 in succession. Trained by Andrea Dailly, the four time Group 1 winner exploded from box one last week, scoring by eight-and-a-half lengths in a track record time of 23.39.

Greenough says that full credit must go to team Dailly for keeping him performing at his best so consistently.

“You have to give credit to the trainer – everyone thinks the fast ones are the easiest ones to train, but its not when you have got that pressure on you to keep the dog performing each week. 

“I take my hat off to the Daillys – they have done an outstanding job with the dog.”

However, despite not giving his chasers much of a winning chance, Greenough still says it is a thrill to have reached the final, especially for the owners.

“I’m just going up there to enjoy the night. The two owners of these dogs are over the moon to have made a group final which is terrific to see.

“It would be nice to go back to back, but I am going into it with no confidence,

“I hope one of them can sneak into the placings – because I think I will be going to watch the tail end of Fernando Bale.

“I think everyone is waiting for him to make a mistake – but I just don’t think he will.”

Below is the form of each finalist in the 2015 Bendigo Cup, complete with comments from our expert tipster, Brad Bugeja, as well as the best odds from our recommended online bookmakers.

Box One: Mepunga Armagh
Black and White Dog – 33.8kg – October 2011
x Mepunga Harmony
Prize money: $160,230
Trainer: Jeff Britton
Career: 65: 25-11-8
T/D: 1: 1-0-0
T/D Best: 23.92
Career Highlights: WON Sandown Park 29.33, The Meadows 29.86, 29.83, FINALIST 2014 Group 1 Adelaide Cup.

“Strong effort to score in his heat last week and from the red draw he comes into place calculations. He can show early speed at times but his speed is better suited to the 500m journeys as he does have a little flat spot after 50m. If he can settle just behind the speed, he should be able to avoid early bother and he can run home into some minor money.”

Odds to win the Bendigo Cup: $34 with Sportsbet

Box Two: Billo’s Pick
Brindle Dog – 33.2kg – June 2012
Where’s Pedro x Macie Bell
Prize money: $27,685
Trainer: Kel Greenough
Career: 22: 14-1-1
T/D: 2: 2-0-0
T/D Best:  23.74
Career Highlights: WON Sandown Park 29.43, The Meadows 29.87.

“His career has been delayed due to some injury problems, but this bloke is a star in the making and he should run a big race. Last week he showed a great turn of speed and assumed control early in the race, he was then able to hold off the powerful Dyna Villa in the run home. His heat time of 23.77 is impressive but I think with a clear passage he can go sub 23.60 and he could make the favourite work hard for victory.”

Odds to win the Bendigo Cup: $12 with Bet365

Box Three: Fernando Bale
White and Dark Brindle Dog – 29.9kg – March 2013
Kelsos Fusileer x Chloe Allen
Prize money: $634,840
Trainer: Andrea Dailly
Career: 27: 22-1-1
T/D: 1: 1-0-0
T/D Best: 23.39 TR
Career Highlights: WON 2015 Group 1 Golden Easter Egg, 2015 Group 1 National Derby, 2015 Group 1 , 2015 Group 1 Classic, 2015 Group 3 Bill Collins Memorial, 2015 Ballarat Derby, The Meadows 29.55, Wentworth Park 29.27, Sandown Park 28.98, Bendigo 23.39 TR.

“Best chaser on the planet at present and if he bounces out he should be winning. Once he hits the ground his sectionals can’t be matched and he was able to break the track record here at his first look. He has now won 14 on the trot and because of his faultless box manners it really is hard to see him being beaten. With a wide runner drawn directly on his outside, he should get plenty of room early and he might be able to go a tad quicker than last week.”

Odds to win the Bendigo Cup: $1.25 with Sportsbet

Box Four: Breathing Fire:
Black Dog – 33.6kg – January 2013
Where’s Pedro x Pretty Malaika
Prize money: $20,978
Trainer: Kel Greenough
Career: 20:7-5-2
T/D: 1:1-0-0
T/D Best: 23.88
Career Highlights:  WON Bendigo 23.88, Albion Park 30.09, Lismore 30.22.

“Classy Queensland chaser who has recently joined the powerful Greenough kennel. Last week he was able to utilise his favourable wide draw and once he got out into some open space he was able to wind up and hit full stride before scoring an impressive 23.88 heat win. If he had the pink I would give him a great chance of featuring in the money, however from the middle pin he is likely to get squeezed out early and he will likely get too far back.”

Odds to win the Bendigo Cup: $34 with Bet365

Box Five: Shared Equity
Black Bitch – 28.3kg – February 2013
Brett Lee x West On Bluebird
Prize money: $44,015
Career: 21:12-0-2
T/D: 1: 1-0-0
T/D Best:  23.60
Career Highlights: WON The Meadows 30.11, 3RD 2015 Group 2 Warrnambool Classic, FINALIST 2015 Group 2 Horsham Cup.

“She is blessed with dazzling speed and if she comes out on terms with the rest of the field she has the pace to sit just behind Fernando in the early stages. Last week she pinged the lids and really caught the eye with a blistering 23.60 heat win and a repeat of that effort will see her figure prominently. The only concern is that she must lead to win her races and there is some serious speed engaged in this final, so I’m happy to take her on tonight.”

Odds to win the Bendigo Cup: $10 with Sportsbet

Box Six: Paua To Roar
Black Dog – 34.2kg – September 2012
Head Bound x Paua To Erupt
Prize money: $60,578
Trainer: Anthony Azzopardi
Career: 35: 17-7-4
T/D: 1: 1-0-0
T/D Best: 23.92
Career Highlights: WON 2014 Group 3 Nowra Puppy Classic, Goulburn 19.45 TR, 25.32 TR, FINALIST 2014 Group 3 Magic Maiden.

“Smart NSW speedster who has won three on the trot in smart style. The wide draw will definitely suit him and with two slow beginners on his outside he should be able to push through into a prominent spot early. He is quite strong in the run home over this trip and he could be a great value best for the place.”

Odds to win the Bendigo Cup: $34 with Sportsbet

Box Seven: Fearless John
Black Dog – 37.3kg – February 2013
Fear Zafonic x Golden Gwen
Prize money: $45,430
Trainer: Blake Shillington
Career: 53: 13-6-6
T/D: 2: 1-0-0
T/D Best: 23.79
Career Highlights: FINALIST 2015 Group 2 Warrnambool Classic.

“Surprised everyone last week when posting a brilliant 23.72 heat win but I think he will find this task beyond him. Last week he pinged the lids and was never headed, he is normally slow to begin and he takes a few strides to get going and in this company he can’t afford to give away a head start.”

Odds to win the Bendigo Cup: $67 with Bet365

Box Eight: Ronray Spirit
Black Dog – 33.6kg – December 2012
Cosmic Rumble x Ronray Disco
Prize money: $138,725
Trainer: Terry Reid
Career: 33: 18-2-5
T/D: 1: 1-0-0
T/D Best: 23.72
Career Highlights:  WON 2015 Group 2 Warragul Cup, 2015 Group 2 Warrnambool Cup, FINALIST 2015 Group 2 Shepparton Cup, 2015 Group 1 Golden Easter Egg.

“Ultra reliable speedster who is the reigning Warragul and Warrnambool Cups champ. He has come up with a favourable draw again and he showed plenty of guts when holding off the strong Margins in his heat. His heat time of 23.72 was very impressive and I think he is capable of going sub 23.60 if he finds the top early. It will take a mighty effort to roll the favourite but if Fernando Bale misses away, he should be there to capitalise.”

Odds to win the Bendigo Cup: $8 with Bet365

1st Reserve: Margins
Black Dog – 36.5kg – February 2013
Bekim Bale x Gogo Sutro
Prize money: $76,725
Trainer: Brooke Ennis
Career: 26: 9-5-2
T/D: 1: 0-1-0
T/D Best: 23.75
Career Highlights: WON 2015 Group 2 Horsham Cup.

“Reigning Horsham Cup champ and he was far from disgraced when narrowly beaten in his heat. His lack of early speed always makes life tough for him but if he happened to gain a start he could definitely sneak into third or fourth spot.”

Odds to win the Bendigo Cup: $17 with Bet365

2nd Reserve: Dyna Villa
Black Dog – 32.5kg – October 2012
Collision x Roxio Bale
Prize money: $715,023
Trainer: Andrea Dailly
Career: 49: 26-9-7
T/D: 1: 0-1-0
T/D Best: 23.79
Career Highlights: WON 2014 Group 1 Melbourne Cup, 2015 Group 1 , 2015 Group 2 , 2ND 2015 Group 1 Silver Chief Classic, 3RD 2015 Group 1 Hobart Thousand, FINALIST 2015 Group 2 Cup, 2015 Group 2 Shepparton Cup, 2015 Group 1 Temlee, 2015 Group 2 Warrnambool Cup, 2015 Group 2 Horsham Cup, 2015 Group 3 Collins Memorial.

“Superstar who has won multiple Group 1s and he has been a finalist in numerous Country Cups. If he gained a start he would be one of the main fancies and he would be a genuine winning hope.”

Odds to win the Bendigo Cup: $21 with Sportsbet

Top Four: 3 – 8 – 2 – 6

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