Australia’s staying sweetheart primed for Silver Collar showdown

SWEET It Is has proven to be one of the greatest stayers on Australian shores, now her trainer Braden Finn is hoping she can prove herself on the international stage when she contests Sunday’s Group 1 Duke of Edinburgh Silver Collar at Manukau in New Zealand.

The daughter of Mogambo and Off Springer, pictured getting some advice on how to win a Silver Collar from former victor Thrilling Brat, is already a five time Group 1 winner and stunned racegoers at her track debut last weekend, scoring by 16 lengths in a track record time of 46.07 over 779-metres, surprising even Finn with the performance.

“I was very surprised that she broke the record,” Finn said.

“It was the last thing I thought would happen especially because she got into trouble early, but she handled herself well and she is a professional little dog so I was expecting her to go well.”

Finn, who is staying with Karen Walsh, the trainer of Thrilling Brat, said Sweet It Is has recovered extremely well and is loving the change of scenery.

“She has pulled up well after the run on Sunday, we haven’t had any hiccups – she is feeling good, bouncing around and ready to go,” he said.

“We are staying about two hours away from Auckland at Karen Walsh’s property and she has settled in very good.

“I think she likes it here, it is a pretty big property and there is plenty of things to look at. I have been taking her for a couple of long walks and I think she is really enjoying herself, she seems pretty switched on.”

Sweet It Is, $1.25 with Bet365, drew box eight for the final and, while its not perfect, Finn still gives her a top chance.

“I would have preferred the one or the two but my third pick would have been the eight so I can’t complain,” he said.

“As long as she doesn’t get run off at the first turn then I think she will be ok. The other day she seemed to possie up a bit closer before she got checked, so they might, hopefully, be a bit slower early here than the stayers in Australia.”

While many greyhounds run scintillating times in their heats then fail to fire in the final, Finn does not think this will be the case for “Zoe”.

“A lot of dogs that come out and break records over the staying journeys tend to not back up the week after,” he said.

“The difference with her is that most dogs breaking the records are out on the bunny as soon as the boxes open going flat out, whereas with her she gets so far back and works her way into it – she probably doesn’t gas herself like the others would.

“It is exciting to watch her race, you never throw your ticket away because she can still win Group races coming from 10 or 12 lengths off them.”

While her short price with the bookies may make it appear like a one act affair, Sweet It Is will have to defeat NZ’s best stayer, Shandell, $3.80 with Bet365, to bring the trophy home to Victoria.

“I didn’t really know anything about Shandell before I got here, but she looks a bit like Zoe, the further the better for her,” Finn said.

“She grinded it out tough last Sunday, it was a good little win and she rails really good so box one will suit her.

“She only went about three or four lengths slower than Zoe, she is a very good little dog so it should be a great race.”

Sweet It Is, which Braden purchased in early 2014, is already the highest stakes earner in greyhound racing history and will take her prize money to over $870,000 with a win in Sunday’s feature.

A winner of 19 from 59, Finn said that prize money has never been the motivating factor with Sweet It Is, the greyhound which has surpassed all of the expectations he had when buying her.

“She made a few Group finals when Len (Jones- breeder) had her and she was only young back then, dogs don’t normally do that, so that was the main reason we bought her, but she is also so well bred – we thought we were buying a racebitch and a broodbitch all at the same time,” he said.

“Back then I thought winning her first Group 1 was fantastic, she has won five now, so it has been a big thrill and something that I never thought would happen.

“It is quite surreal, I never contemplated her breaking the record before the Sandown Cup because I thought she was going to run second – now people are talking about her being the first dog to break $1M so it is starting to sink in.

“I enjoy the thrill or winning the Group 1 races, the money is good, of course, but for me it is all about the thrill.”

The Group 1 Duke of Edinburgh Silver Collar is race 10 at Manakau this Sunday and will jump at 3:33pm AEDT.

Sign-up with Bet365 for up to $200 in free bets to place on the final.

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