FERNANDO Bale will become the first greyhound in the history of the sport to break the elusive $1 million mark if he is able to score in Friday’s Group 1 Adelaide Cup at Angle Park.
With his career earnings currently standing at $931,110, owner Paul Wheeler says the pressure is building around his superstar sprinter.
“There is quite a bit of pressure, even last week I was sitting on the edge of my chair,” Wheeler said.
Wheeler, in an ominous warning to his competitors, believes there is further improvement in Fernando Bale after his emphatic 29.36 heat victory last Thursday.
“Last week’s start at Angle Park was his first ever look at the track – he had never trialled there, never been there before,” Wheeler explained.
“Looking at the (replay), he (mis)anticipated the start and he bashed his head on the boxes and backed up – but he was still able to come out and lead and run the fastest of the night.
“Barring mishaps I think he could improve significantly on last week.”
Fernando Bale will have to contend with box six on Friday night, but the white and dark brindle champion has proven time and time again that there is no box which can stop him.
So far throughout his career, Fernando Bale has won a staggering nine Group events – six at the top level – and he is yet to be defeated in any group race final.
With some of the country’s biggest races and two track records to his name, Wheeler had no hesitation in labelling Fernando Bale as the best his family has bred.
“He is certainly – as far as Group races go – the most successful dog that we have ever had,” he said.
“The most frightening part about it is that he has done it all before he is two and a half… you usually see in a greyhound’s racing career that their prime is around two-and-a-half to three.
“The thing that amazes me about this fella is that he has done (what he has) in elite company, in group races, since day one as a baby.
“It will be interesting to see if he can step-up and perhaps be even a little bit better than what he has already been.”
Wheeler said he plans to race Fernando Bale throughout the Melbourne Spring Carnival – with a spot in the invitation only Topgun virtually guaranteed – before heading on towards the $420,000-to-the-winner Melbourne Cup in November.
“He doesn’t have to do anything else on the racetrack – I think he has proven to everyone that he is a super duper racer,” he said.
“The thing I am trying to do with him, barring injury or mishaps, is keep him going until after the Melbourne Cup series has finished and after that we will have to sit back and have a real good look (at retiring him).
“There is a lot of pressure to stand him at stud. We have had a lot of inquiries and we have probably got a couple of hundred people wanting to get semen from him.
“At this stage of the game we have been drawing from him sparingly and just waiting to see the Melbourne Cup out.”
While many may view the Adelaide Cup as a one act affair, a quality field is set to contest the $75,000 feature. Fernando’s kennel mate Dyna Double One (box five) is next best in the market at $6.50 with Bet365, alongside the exciting Kayda Shae (box seven), one of three runners for Kelly Bravo.
Bravo trained the winner of the 2011 Adelaide Cup, Kilty Lad, which, incidentally, is the sire of Kayda Shae.
The red fawn chaser was luckless in his heat last week, finishing a determined second behind Shared Equity (box eight).
Bravo said she was still happy with the performance, clocking a slick 29.62 in defeat.
“He didn’t get a chance to race too much – every time he went to go under or around the other dog it would take his running,” Bravo explained.
“He seems to have matured a lot after he has come back from an injury he got at Wenty in June and now he seems to be more of a race dog… so we are pretty excited about him moving forward.”
Bravo also has Waymore’s Blues (box one) and Secret Spell (box three) engaged in the final – the latter of which she believes will improve heading into the race.
“Waymore’s Blues did really well last week – he was able to take a bit of ground off Fernando – and Secret Spell was probably our unknown factor as she had eight weeks off going into the heats and hadn’t had a 500 in her preparation.
“It was her first look at the track and she really needed the 500. She had only had a 300, a 390 and a 450 trial leading into the race.
“She can be a bit finicky, she isn’t always the best of travellers, but I think she will be our biggest improver going into the final.”
Bravo says it will be a hard task against the world’s best greyhound, but is still hopeful her team will perform well.
“It will be interesting. On paper probably none of them can win because Fernando is there, but you just don’t know.
“If Waymore’s Blues can hold his position on the fence, even though he would probably be happier drawn off the track, I am hoping he can sneak through into a placing.
“You are always banking on the fact that your dogs do everything right and that Fernando does something wrong – which he rarely does – but it is nice to be there all the same.”
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