With a staggering 18 greyhounds facing the starter across the eight Cup heats, the stage was set for a blue riband night for the Boorowa based breeder. But not even the most astute judge could foresee what was to happen next, as Wheeler owned greyhounds dominated the best night of greyhound racing in Australia.
The most impressive of Wheeler’s seven finalists was that of fastest heat winner Bekim Bale, who came from behind to stop the clock in 29.28 seconds.
Undoubtedly the most exciting greyhound in the country, Bekim Bale ($1.70F) began fairly from box eight, stalking early leader Zippstar before unleashing his customary finishing burst around the home turn. The win improved his career record to seven wins from nine starts, including six wins from seven starts at the Lightwood Road circuit.
Already a winner of the Group 3 Macro Meats Shootout, the Sandown track record holder entered the night a $4.40 favourite with TAB Sportsbet to win the Cup, and was promptly shortened to $2 when markets reopened following the final Cup heat.
Comparisons have already been drawn between Bekim Bale and Paul Wheeler’s only previous Solo Melbourne Cup winner, Kantarn Bale who won the 1999 Solo Melbourne Cup at just his ninth race start. Kantarn Bale ended his career three Group 1 wins and a total of six Group race titles, finishing with $357,850 in prizemoney and a place in the Greyhound Racing Victoria Hall Of Fame. Kantarn Bale is widely regarded as the best greyhound to emerge from the Wheeler kennel, an assessment that is likely to change should Bekim Bale claim the 2011 Solo Melbourne Cup.
Bekim Bale is just one of four Andrea Dailly trained greyhounds lining up in the final as she aims for a maiden Solo Melbourne Cup win.
Joining Bekim Bale in the final is Dyna Tron, who was sensationally backed from $41 into $14 before the heats began. Dyna Tron ($3.30) jumped well from box 8 and proved too strong in the run to the line, stopping the clock at 29.31 seconds. The Geelong Cup winner shaved three lengths off his best time at Sandown Park and looms as Bekim Bale’s biggest danger.
Bala Bale ($13) caused the upset of the night, beginning brilliantly from box 5 to lead all the way to defeat favourite Rewind in 29.38. Bala Bale is the youngest greyhound to qualify for the final, however despite her youth and lack of experience (at just ten career starts), has been installed a $9 chance for this Thursday night’s final.
Dyna Morris ($4) completed a memorable night for the Dailly kennel after claiming the final heat in 29.65. Drawing box one inside noted wide runner Pedrosa, Dyna Morris overcame a moderate get away to weave his way through the field and finish too well for Adam Meway, winning by 3½ lengths.
Graeme Bate will launch a three pronged assault on a record fourth Solo Melbourne Cup.
Bate trained Kantarn Bale, and looks well place to provide Wheeler a second Solo Melbourne Cup after Allen Elroy ($5.40) and Shereen Bale ($2.10F) brilliantly led all the way to win the night’s opening two heats in 29.36 and 29.37 seconds respectively.
Numero Uno Bale completed the Bate treble, overcoming a chequered run to claim a ½ length victory over Radley Bale – also trained by Bate – in 29.56.
Dailly (Dyna Bert) and Bate (Allen Harper) also have a reserve each for the race.
Gary Ennis prepares the only non-Wheeler owned greyhound in the final, with veteran Enry Walt overcoming an unfavourable boxdraw to reach his 14th Group race final in 65 career starts.
The rising four year old won for the first time in nine attempts from box 3, and despite finding trouble in the run, shaved a length off his previous best time at Sandown Park to stop the clock in 29.41 seconds.
It was Enry Walt’s 10th win in 26 starts at Sandown Park, and the $10,000 first prize for winning his heat took his career prizemoney beyond $250,000.
The box draw for Thursday night’s Solo Melbourne Cup final will be conducted during the “Dog’s Breakfast,” a free event to be conducted at Sandown Park between 5.30am and 9.00am on Monday 14 November.
Radio Sport National will broadcast live from the track, Cup finalists will be trialling throughout the morning, a free cooked breakfast, free bets on the Solo Melbourne Cup final to be won, and the chance to win a 10% share for three months in exciting young greyhound Prince Holyfield, trained by Ray Bartolo.
Solo Melbourne Cup night promises to be a fantastic night out for the entire family, with a range of kids activities including a face painter and roving entertainers, a jumping castle and mini golf, while for the adults there are 8 x $1000 bets on the Cup final up for grabs, a Punter’s Club with a $2000 starting pool, mystery envelopes and a host of prizes and giveaways.
Entry is free, gates open at 6.00pm with the first race at 7.08pm.
2011 Melbourne Cup Heats Results
- Heat 1: Allen Elroy (5), 29.36
- Heat 2: Shereen Bale (8), 29.37
- Heat 3: Bala Bale (5), 29.38
- Heat 4: Dyna Tron (8), 29.31
- Heat 5: Bekim Bale (8), 29.28
- Heat 6: Enry Walt (3), 29.41
- Heat 7: Numero Uno Bale (7), 29.56
- Heat 8: Dyna Morris (1), 29.65