Victorian mentor Robert Britton has had plenty of reasons to smile this week in the lead-up to Saturday night’s Group Two Summer Plate final, after Space Star dominated a star-studded heat last week in a best-of-the-night 42.20.
Stepping well from the outside alley, the 35kg heavyweight gapped his rivals by 10.25 lengths, with Britton pleased with his chaser’s efforts.
“Absolutely I was pleased with his performance last week and considering the conditions I couldn’t have been happier with his time,” he said.
“Last week he got turned sideways going past the 520m boxes for the first time and still managed to win by a good margin.”
The son of Bekim Bale and Tonto Tears made a return to the metropolitan circuit for the first time since October of last year, when he finished second in a 4th/5th-grade event over 720m, ironically in the same time he recorded on Saturday night.
Britton is hopeful about Space Star’s chances this week, but he emphasised the importance of his chaser being up with the leaders in the early stages.
“I think the key for him in the final is getting to the lead on the first lap,” he said.
“He’s not a really strong stayer in my opinion, I think he’s more of a 680-metre greyhound, however, he does have plenty up his sleeve and is improving.”
Space Star captivated the greyhound world at his maiden start at Richmond in March last year, annihilating the opposition by 26.25 lengths, in setting a new record time over the 618m of 35.00.
Punters could only watch on in awe over the following weeks, as the black flash continued to justify his skinny odds at Gosford (34.21 over 600m), Maitland (31.82 over 565m) and The Gardens (34.89 over 600m). Space Star first set foot on the Wentworth Park track in May of 2014, and clocked a solid time of 30.07 over 520m. His debut performance over the 720m distance at the track came three months later and was certainly worth the wait for all involved, after another outstanding win by 12 lengths, in a blistering time of 41.84.
In November, Space Star headed to Britton’s Lara kennels in Victoria to contest a heat of the Bold Trease Series over 715m and didn’t disappoint his new trainer, winning first-up at Sandown Park in a flying time of 41.65. After finishing second in the final a week later to multiple group-winning chaser Sweet It Is, Britton headed to The Meadows with his newest sensation and recorded another first-up win over the 600m journey in another fast time of 34.37.
Space Star came tantalisingly close to claiming his first Group One victory at Sale a month later, finishing a length and a quarter behind Star Recall in 37.14 over 650m.
After Saturday night’s sensational victory, Britton has big plans to travel further with his newest staying star and his excellent temperament is just an added bonus.
“He’s so relaxed in the car which really helps, because it’s a big trip up to Sydney,” he said.
“I’m looking at the Galaxy over in Perth after this race, but it’s a big ask going all the way over there, but we’ll see what happens.”