Reg Kay is poised to cap a memorable 2008 when his star sprinter Made To Size starts favourite in Australia’s richest ever greyhound race, the $250,000 Schweppes Melbourne Cup at Sandown Park tonight.
Made To Size, the winner of the Group 1 Winter Carnival Cup at Albion Park in June, resumed from a lengthy injury break two weeks ago when running an impressive third in the Group 3 Shootout.
He was equally impressive in last week’s heat. Jumping only fairly from box 4, Made To Size showed outstanding mid-race pace to race away to 3.75 length win in 29.70 (=BON).
Kay has enjoyed four Group 1 victories with four different greyhounds in three different states this year. He took out New Zealand’s richest race with Size Can Matter in October, and in Made to Size he was drawn perfectly to add Australia’s richest race to his trophy burgeoning trophy cabinet.
Hanify’s Impact has drawn perfectly in box 1 and is the likely leader through the first turn.
Hanify’s Impact won the Group 2 Shepparton Cup from this box in early November and ran clearly the fastest first split of the finalists. In the care of 2007 AGRA Trainer of the Year Jason Thompson, Hanify’s Impact should be better for his first race at the track and will give them something to chase.
Nitro Burst overcame box 5 and a number of checks to weave his way through the field and claim an impressive victory. Nitro Burst is also drawn well, and with slower breakers on his outside, is well drawn to figure in the finish.
Graeme Bate has two runners in his bid for a record fourth Melbourne Cup.
Velocette, who boasts a stunning 29.54 PB at the track, has drawn box seven for his first Group race final.
Velocette led all the way to defeat comprehensively defeat Queen Lauryn in his heat in an equal best of night 29.70.
Velocette thrives at the Lightwood Road circuit with six wins from 12 starts, and Graeme Bate is sure to have him at his best tonight.
Amity Bale is Bate’s 20th Melbourne Cup finalist since he claimed his first Cup with Satan’s Shroud in 1981. Amity Bale was impressive in her heat run, railing strongly to defeat Laurels winner Hybrid Theory, however she will have to improve again to factor in tonight’s final. Her chances were not helped by drawing box 6.
Surgeon gives trainer Darren McDonald an opportunity of back-to-back Cups following Shanlyn Prince’s success last year.
Surgeon has developed a reputation as a brilliant if enigmatic chaser since arriving in the McDonald kennel from Western Australia. While he does things wrong in his races, he is by all accounts as fast they come on the trial track, however he will need to convert that form to the racetrack if McDonald is to enjoy a third Melbourne Cup.
Teaman Titch showed no signs of the ulna injury that has kept him out of racing for three months when he caused the upset of the night in taking out his heat in 29.93 at $32. Trainer David Burnett was delighted with his charge’s run, saying he was a little under done coming into the heats. He should strip fitter for the final, however despite his five wins from six starts at the track, he will need luck after drawing box 4 for the final.
Kendale Bale completes the field after running down pre-post favourite El Galo in 29.97.
Kendale Bale was undefeated in his first eight starts, including a victory in the Group 2 Horsham Cup. While his form does not necessarily reflect it, Kendale Bale has been racing in good form, and with the influence of Graeme Bate in his preparation, he represents a good each-way bet.
In the night’s other feature, Fallen Zorro will look to claim her third Group 2 title of the year in the Bold Trease Carnival Cup.
The star Tasmanian stayer has been racing in good form of late and has already claimed two Group 2 races at Sandown Park this year.
Oodles Rocks has continued to rise through the staying ranks, virtually leading all the way in her heat and looks the likely leader from box 1, while Western Australian Risk It was devastating in his first look at the track, winning by 14.25 lengths in the best of night 42.63.
Gates open at Sandown Park at 6.00pm with the first race at 7.09pm. Roving entertainment will keep patrons entertained throughout the night, culminating with the Schweppes Melbourne Cup, Australia’s richest ever greyhound race, to be run at 9.40pm.