It is the Group One that every greyhound participant wants to win and they get a chance again as the heats of the Melbourne Cup take place at Sandown Park on Thursday night.
As expected, the eight heats are brimming with quality as 64 greyhounds compete for their spot in next week’s $420,000 to-the-winner final. Only the winners from each heat will secure a place in the final.
Here’s a look at the chances in each heat;
Heat One – Group One Melbourne Cup (Race 1 at 7:04pm)
The first heat features a number of Group race winners and it’s hard to pick any stand-out chances.
Oakvale Destiny (4), who boasts two Group race victories, lines up in box four. She was one and a quarter lengths second behind Iva Vision in last week’s Shoot Out. The hard chasing blue bitch has just the three wins from 11 at Sandown with a best of 29.67. She gets back early but is strong so keep an eye on her as she will be the one pouncing at the end.
Kiss Me Ketut (2), who was a finalist in last year’s Melbourne Cup, has been a little out of sorts with his form but has managed to find some consistency in his last two runs, winning at Sandown and Geelong. He has got five wins at Sandwon for a best of 29.46. He has led all the way his last two starts and when he finds the front early he is always hard to get past.
Two chasers in this heat have both had less than 10 starts but they have racked up 10 wins between them. Wagga Wagga based dog Creative Karisma (3) will be having her first shot at Group glory for trainer Kevin Podmore. She has won five from eight with four of those wins coming at Sandown. She finished third behind Dream It last week and faces a big test to qualify. Above All (5) has had five wins from nine starts and has sizzled around Sandown in 29.33. The Magic Sprite and Kara Janx (Fashion Thief – More Than This) chaser has moved over to Robert Britton’s kennels from New Zealand and has been impressive.
Lucy Lobster (8) arrives for her first stint of racing in Victoria after taking out the Group 1 Vic Peters recently at Wentworth Park. The Brett Lee and One Tree Hill (Gable Lafourche – Mockingbird Hill) chaser boasts plenty of early toe and she will need to display that to lead from box eight. The draw looks like it will suit as she tends to race off the rail.
The other chasers Humphrey Bale (1), Top Secret (6) and Campaspe Will (7) all have claims as they are experienced Victorian chasers. The form of Humprhey Bale and Campaspe Will suggests they will need some luck whereas Top Secret, who is a model of consistency, has a knack for making Group race finals.
Heat Two – Group One Melbourne Cup (Race 2 at 7:25pm)
Awesome Project (3) was desperately unlucky in the Shoot Out last week, copping interference in a four dog field. His ability is well known and he just needs a clean run early to stamp his authority on this heat.
Secret Spell (8) won the Group 3 Puppy Classic at Cranbourne recently. The Bartrim Bale and Wicked Witch (Larkhill Jo – Witch Magic) dog has won seven from eight. He won here at Sandown from box eight last week in a fast 29.26, leading all the way and running a smart 5.02 early. He looks the goods and presents a big threat to Awesome Project.
Another threat comes in the form of Hostile (1) in the rails alley. The Collison and Restless Style (Surf Lorian -Double Guess) dog won here at Sandown last week in 29.28. He finished second behind Secret Spell at Cranbourne recently.
Dyna Yemen (4) has won five of his last eight and won at Sandown last week in 29.35. That was his second win at the track from four attempts. He has early speed and has won two from box four.
Other chasers in this heat include 2014 Group 1 Vic Peters runner-up All Strung Out (2), 2013 Group 2 Laurels winner Ritza Hattie (5), Adelaide Cup finalist Mepunga Armagh (6) and the strong SA Derby finalist Wind Whistler (7).
Heat Three – Group One Melbourne Cup (Race 5 at 8:31pm)
Banjo Boy (1) is drawn perfectly in box one. The 35kg white and black chaser has five wins from box one to his credit and he has won his last two from this draw. His best time at Sandown from five wins at the track is 29.34.
Group 1 National Sprint winner Chica Destacada (6) got a look at the Sandown track last week, finishing one and a quarter lengths second behind Hekate Belle in 29.29. She should find some improvement from that run.
Warrior King (4) has been mixing his distances of late. The brother to My Bro Fabio has his fair share of ability and returned to the winner’s circle at The Meadows last week. His winning form at Sandown is only average with just the two wins from 11 starts, but he has placed on six other occasions. He has recorded a best of 29.25.
It would be great to see Group 1 Maturity winner Mepunga Hayley (8) return to her brilliant best. Her form has been a little disappointing, as she has won just two from her last eight. She has four wins at Sandown for a best of 29.29 and two wins from box eight.
Heat Four – Group One Melbourne Cup (Race 6 at 8:52pm)
Crackerjak Dak (3) has a formidable record at Sandown winning five from six. He has been beginning well his last few starts and if he does the same again he will take some catching.
Keybow (8) looks well drawn again after streaking away for a convincing win from this box in the Group 3 Silver Bullet at The Meadows recently. It was a dominant return to form and connections will be hopeful he can repeat those efforts again and add another Group race final to his impressive resume.
Shoot Out winner Iva Vision (6) has now won his last two at Sandown and will be searching for three wins in a row. He stopped the clock at 29.27 last week, leading all the way. He will have to do everything right from the poor draw.
Oakvale Flyer (4) has a bit more early pace than her sister Oakvale Destiny but she has just the one win from her last eight starts. She has won five from 11 at Sandown but will need everything to go right for her from the draw.
Take Charge (1) is a box one bandit, winning four from five. Looking at the competition in this heat, he will need to use the draw to all of his advantage.
The heat also features Blurred Lines (2), Crawf’s Bread (5)and Gorham Bale (7).
Heat Five – Group One Melbourne Cup (Race 7 at 9:12pm)
Hekate Belle (5) has the right form on the board coming into this heat, winning her last two at Sandown with a best of 29.29. She flew along early last week, recoding 4.99 to the first mark. If she can do that again she can overcome the poor draw.
Star Recall (2) is a well performed chaser from WA and she will be looking for her first win at Sandown. She raced last week and had no luck from box two, finishing last behind Hostile. She should be improved for the look at the track.
Allen Deed (3) recently took out the Group 1 Adelaide Cup in fine style. That win has since been followed by a fifth in the Topgun and fourth in the Shoot Out. He is the sort of dog that needs room to move to put himself in a position to finish strongly. A lot will depend on the pace on the inside and on his outside.
This heat also features Tiggerlong Amigo (4), Peloton Bale (1), Oscura (6), Nockabout Aussie (7) and We Are Geelong (8).
Heat Six – Group One Melbourne Cup (Race 8 at 9:35pm)
All eyes will be on Group 1 Hume Cup winner My Bro Fabio in heat six. The black 35kg flying machine won the Hume Cup in devastating fashion. He steps back to the 515m sprint and can be afforded no mistakes in the early stages. If he gets a trouble free run he will be tough to defeat. He has scorched around the Sandown circuit in 29.09 and has five wins at the track over this distance.
Texas Titan (3) is a consistent chaser who is strong. He may be able to put himself into the race from box three. He finished fourth behind Allen Deed in the recent Adelaide Cup final. He presents value for those that like an each-way bet.
Despite being tardy early, Bessy Boo (1) has drawn his box. The Bekim Bale and My Black Bess (Bit Chili – Major Coinage) chaser has won five times from box one and placed on another five occasions. He trialled at Sandown in 29.72 last week and will need to improve on that time to challenge some of the others runners in this field.
Dyna Villa (6) has won six from six at Sandown has box six for this heat. He won last week in 29.77 from box seven but he has a best time of 29.46. His record from this draw is good with three wins and three placings from six attempts in the green rug.
The remaining runners in this heat include Shoulders (2), who has been up and down with his form, Summer Wages (4), Superfonic (5) and Lamia Bale (8).
Heat Seven – Group One Melbourne Cup (Race 11 at 10:34pm)
The likely leader in this race comes in the form of Group 2 Geelong Cup winner Luca Neveelk (2). He is very speedy early and will be giving the rest something to chase.
Hawk Alone (5) knows what it takes to make a Melbourne Cup final, finishing third in the event last year. He has just returned to racing from a three month spell and finished second here last week in his first run back. He has a best of 29.38 at the track.
Marcus Joe (1) is a quality chaser with seven wins at Sandown for a best of 29.24. Oddly though, he is yet to record a win from box one.
Ollie Bale (8) has found some much needed form in his last two runs. He has managed to begin, find the lead early and win in his last two races around Sandown and Geelong. He has just the four wins from 20 at Sandown and a best of 29.32.
Dream It (4) clocked his personal best of 29.23 in a Melbourne Cup Prelude last week. He isn’t without a chance.
Weblec Belle (3), Dyna Ostrander (6)and Kiltah Magic (7) are
the remaining runners in this heat.
Heat Eight – Group One Melbourne Cup (Race 12 at 10:54pm)
We have to wait until the final heat to see if Tasmanian champion Buckle Up Wes (7) can make yet another Group race final. This year’s Topgun winner is yet to record a win at Sandown from two starts. Overall he has 30 career wins and has earned connections more than half-a-million dollars. It would be great to see him break his “maiden” at Sandown in this heat. He gets every chance as it is a relatively quiet heat.
National Time (5) is a noted beginner with early speed. The big question mark will be whether he can hold out Buckle Up Wes. He has managed just two wins at Sandown from 11 goes.
Musquin Bale (6) has loads of class but is jammed between the speed. He has stopped the clock at 29.29 previously.
Cosmic Wise (1) is well performed from box one and made the final of the Group 1 Adelaide Cup recently. She won at the track last week in 29.76 and has a personal best of 29.52.
The remaining heat runners are Bazza’s’s Gift (8), Maximus Glider (4), Joey Valdez (3) and One Dee (2).