Bathurst’s Kennerson Park will come alive tonight as one of the best fields assembled at Bathurst in recent memory contests the Stan Cassidy Memorial Stake (520 metres).
The highlight of an impressive card for the Bathurst Greyhound Racing Club, the Cassidy Memorial will see star runners Merleen, Beverage and Flying Mitch going for the $1,500 in stakes for the winner while rising star Spring Lee faces a true litmus test against a crack field.
It will be the first edition of the event after former Bathurst club president Cassidy passed away in April.
The Earl Anderson-trained Merleen has drawn box three and brings impeccable form into the race having finished no worse than second at her last four starts.
Having won at Wentworth Park back in June, she has since been the bridesmaid three times on the trot including two Grafton events within the last 11 days.
Likely to open with favouritism is the Garry Williams runner Beverage, who will attempt to make it five from six at Kennerson Park, and has passed his first test in getting an inside start (box two).
Cudal dog Moorbel Jack has drawn ideally and will jump from the inside box and seek to add to his $15,000 career earnings for in-form trainer Glen Ginn, though will need to improve on a third at the track last week.
Flying Mitch (box four) lived up to his name at his most recent outing and grabbed a solid win over 450 metres at the track last Wednesday. In 64 starts the veteran dog has only been unplaced 15 times, so will again provide stiff competition this evening.
Spring Lee and Forest Storm are the two rookies in the field with just 11 and 12 starts respectively.
Spring Lee (box five) has been unplaced at his past to starts at Wentworth Park but has won at the Kennerson Park track before and has some huge wraps.
Forest Storm (box eight) won over the 520 metres two weeks ago in 30.54 before running fourth over 450 metres last week.
Varvatos (box six) has been unplaced only twice in 25 runs, but faces a difficult task of picking his way through the field from a tough draw.
He possesses a withering final burst and has good metropolitan form on the board after running a slick second at Wentworth Park last Monday.
Finally, the most experienced dog in the field, True Destiny, is likely to start at slightly longer odds than others despite winning at his past two outings before going unplaced at Wentworth Park on Saturday.
With 31 career wins he knows how to find the line and if he can get across from box seven, will prove tough to beat.
Club secretary Greg Hore is delighted with the final eight for the event and likened the quality in the boxes to a Bathurst Cup field.
“This is easily worthy of a Bathurst Cup final, we advertised the event and hoped to get some good entries and we certainly have,” he said.
“Stan was our president before the formation of the Greyhound Breeders, Owners and Trainers Association and it is only through his foresight that we have what we have today.
“We hope to make this an annual event – we are thankful to the local branch of the GBOTA and the Dudley Hotel for their sponsorship of the event.”
Ever a reliable form guide himself, Hore said that it would be tough to pick a winner but ultimately settled on Beverage as his pick.
“I think Merleen will probably lead – Varvatos, True Destiny and Flying Mitch can all be a bit tardy out of the boxes,” he said.
“I think Beverage will be able to settle behind Merleen and get through, but all the others will be flying home.
“There are five or six dogs in this race capable of breaking 30 seconds.”
Courtesy : Sam Debenham, Western Advocate