One year on and many things can change certainly finalists in Group race final usual change from year to year, however in the staying ranks class will prevail and if a stayer can maintain their form plus fitness they often are seen in the same races in consecutive years.
Such was the case in the Group 2 AWM Distance Title (725m) at The Meadows last Saturday night.
Sky Hazzard prepared by Glenroy septuagenarian Don Hazzard not only made the final for a second year, but like last year won it again. The Group 2 final had been his only successful at that level and after making 13 group race deciders he made it two in similar circumstances.
The greyhound at the centre of the Group 1 Sandown Cup no-race fiasco in 2007 – when Don accidentally pulled the manual starting lever, Hazzard was a major factor in the success of the 2008 Sandown Cup starring in a clever T.V campaign that captured the imagination of the greyhound Industry Australia wide, as well as the general public at large.
Perfectly draw in box two Sky Hazzard ($19.50) wasn’t given much chance of upsetting Tasmanian champ Chinatown Lad ($1.90fav) but like last year when he had to deal with AGRA Greyhound of the Year Flashing Floods the black son of Bombastic Shiraz proved up to the task.
Last year he ran down the leaders after travelling well for most of the trip. This year in contrast he jumped to the front on the very wet track and quite simply never got headed.
In a masterful display of front running in top company Sky Hazzard held off all the challenges to win with style. He raced through the sections in 5.02, 16.13 and 29.74 then went on to score by a length in 42.87 1/100th of a second slower than the time he won in last year.
Fallen Zorro ($9.10) had the better of her brother to finish second with the favourite Chinatown Lad another length away third they chased the leader most of the way never looking like closing the gap.
Sky Hazzard turns four in October and while he is enjoying racing his trainer will continue to campaign him in all the upcoming distance features including another tilt at the Nationals coming up this month with the state heats at the Meadows on August the 9th and the final a week later on the 16th.
This year’s National final will be held at Wentworth Park on the 30th of August.
After the placed finalists the rest of the field finished in the followed order: Lilley Criminal ($7.30), Mantra Lad ($5.20), Risk It ($23.60), Rebel Angel ($29.30) and Gunnadoo Magic ($12.60).
Raced and trained by Don Hazzard, Sky Hazzard is a Black Dog whelped October 2004 by Bombastic Shiraz from Blue Sky Hazzard (Hotshot x Blue Delilah) he has raced 74 times for 23 wins and 34 placings and with the $25,000 first prize for the AWM Distance Championship his overall stake earnings went to $187,225.
Elevated to Group 2 status this year the AWM Distance Championship has had plenty of different names. First run in 1967 when won by Magic Zephyr the race was staged over the 800 yard at Olympic Park and was known as the Olympic Park Distance Championship. In those early years the raced was won by some outstanding stayers including AGRA Hall of famers Zoom Top (1969) Lizrene (1972).
It remained the Olympic Park Distance Champion ship until 1988 apart from 1978 when called the Victorian Distance Title and in 1986 it was called the Toyota Trophy and 1987 Toyota Cup.
In 1989 the race was called the Olympic Park Distance Title before becoming the Diamond Distance Title from 1990 to 1993 and the ANZ Distance Title 1994-95.
The race first became the AWM Distance Title in 1996 when the M.G.R.A. was racing at Sandown and the company has continued the race sponsorship through to the Meadows.
Listed below are the previous winners.
1967 Magic Zephyr, 1968 Carbon Lass, 1969 Zoom Top, 1970 Trev’s Button, 1971 Paul’s Thunder, 1972 Lizrene,1973 Thurmiss,1974 Alveray,1975 La Sierra, 1976 Chevron Lass, 1977 Oakwood Moss, 1978 Lindsay’s Pick, 1979 Mixed Blessings,1980-1984 Not Run, Sheila’s Teresa 1985, Suzanne Gwenda, 1986 Linton’s Ace, 1987 Golden Ambition, 1988 Strolling Benja, 1989 Julep, 1990 Malmar Magic, 1991 Witchery, 1992 Modern Express, 1993 Brijon Belle, 1994 Athjoy, 1995 Johnny Glenoban,1996 Happy Reuben, 1997 Ringside Fire, 1999 Long Shadow, 2000 Jedi Lightsabre, 2001 Hotshow Vintage, 2002 Westend Prince, 2003 Arvo’s Junior, 2004 Classy Customer, 2005 Zarbo, 2006 Mid City Mandy and 2007 Sky Hazzard.