Fastest heat winner Premier Boloney is likely to start as favourite for next Thursday night’s Group 2 McKenna Memorial at Sandown Park after drawing ideally in box 1 for the $56,000 final.
Premier Boloney began well and railed strongly under surprise early leader Lady Gray on leaving the home straight. Once in front, the Group 2 Dawson place getter was never in doubt, racing to a comfortable 2¾ length win in 34.00 seconds.
“He’s very fast. He has run 34.20 previously at the track, but his time tonight was a bit of a surprise” said an ecstatic Kelly Bravo after the race.
“We’re very happy with box one for the final.”
Bravo was just as proud of her second finalist Katie Merry, who came into the race having been sidelined since early May .
“She’d had about trials going into the race. We were hopeful more than confident with her going into the race but sent went really well.”
Remarkably, both Premier Boloney (sired by Premier Fantasy) and Katie Merry (sired by Go Wild Teddy) are out of dual Melbourne Cup finalist Miss Mini Mouse. Premier Boloney is eight months older than its half sister.
RSN Sandown Cup winner Irma Bale bounced back to the winner’s list with an impressive four length win over Coolan Miss in 34.12 seconds.
After finding trouble at the first turn, Irma Bale powered away to record her first victory since her Sandown Cup triumph.
“She jumped with them and got to the front but was dragged down and fell two or three lengths behind Garret Bale. But she got underneath him down the back and really showed her class after that said handler Joe Briffa.
“They were really good signs and she’s going to be hard to beat next week.”
Jamie Ennis had mixed emotions after boom youngster One Last Dance won the night’s opening heat in 34.15 seconds.
Facing the biggest test of her 15 start career, One Last Dance overcame box 5 to record an impressive 3¾ length win over Katie Merry and secure her ninth victory.
“She was terrific tonight, it was a big step up in class,” said Ennis.
“You’re always a little cautious about how they’ll handle themselves when they meet the better dogs but she did a terrific job tonight, pushed up well and put the time on the board.”
However One Last Dance’s chances of victory in the final were severely hampered when she again came up with box 5 – her third consecutive start in the yellow rug.
“She’s out of the contest,” said Ennis.
“There’s too much speed on her inside and the four (It’s A Blur) races to the middle of the track so she’ll have trouble crossing the field.”
Group 1 Silver Chief winner Godsend overcame an interrupted preparation to record an impressive in 34.22 seconds and reach his fourth Group race final.
“There was a lot of depth in the heat, so the box draw was always going to be important and it certainly helped me tonight,” said trainer Jason Thompson.
“He needed the run and the hard 600m so will get a lot of benefit.”
Having his first start over the middle distance in more than three months, the son of Bombastic Shiraz pinged to the lead from box 1 and despite the lack of conditioning, was strong enough to record a 1¼ length win over the sole interstate representative in the series, It’s A Blur.
The $40,000 to the winner final is bound to be a keenly contested event, with the eight finalists having won a combined 99 races and over $589,000 in prize money. The final will be conducted at Sandown Park next Thursday night.
The narrowest victory on an action packed 12 race card went to Proven Impala which defeated Nitro Cee by a half head in thrilling El Galo Damsels Dash final. Nitro Cee established a healthy lead before Proven Impala, who had found trouble in running, railed strongly to clinch victory on the line. In addition to the $12,000 first prize, trainer Joe Borg also picked a up a free service to former Victorian and Australian Greyhound of the Year El Galo, who stands for $2750 at Awesome Lodge.