Last year’s event was won by Dirty Rich for Wayne Smith at bolters odds, while the race contained the now household names of Phenomenal, Marcus Joe, Leprechaun Macey and Punch It.
The 2014 vintage of Vic Breeders entrants are on display tomorrow with four semi-finals, with the final to be held under the bright lights on Saturday March 1, also known as Australian Cup night.
With an eye to the future, here are the main contenders for the four semi-finals, in a series that has become a provenlaunching pad for the stars of tomorrow:
Vic Breeders Semi-Final Number One
Dewana Lass has plenty on the rest timewise in the opener, after going 30.22 in a strong win on debut for Brendan Dewan. With a nice draw she looks the goods with a repeat effort.
The second qualifying spot will be a scrap between the rest, though with not a lot of exposed form to go on.
The only other heat winner in the event is Kirribilli George who will exit the outside box. The son of Heston Bale and Mandy Shiraz won well by 4.5 lengths, but only went 30.71 on the clock. That time will need to come down to be competitive.
Kirribilli George’s littermate, Hession Boots has the rails draw, and could improve sharply. As too could Ballistic Fire for Michelle Mallia-Magri, who finishes the race off hard, and may just get room to move if the two dogs drawn inside begin well.
Vic Breeders Semi-Final Number Two
Blurred Lines for Paul Westerveld was impressive last week, going 30.24 and winning by 8.5 lengths. He exited from box one on that occasion and will jump from box seven this time around, but has shown in all seven starts to date running out 525 metres is no real concern, and with any luck early will play a big factor.
Punk Pirate from box three is the other obvious danger and will dominate the betting along with Blurred Lines. Punk Pirate was beaten last week by Dewana Lass, but ran 30.26 which is more than enough to be competitive in this.
The rest would need to improve to make the final, but we’ve seen before how easily that happens with dogs of this age and experience.
Speed Chill draws the red rug on this occasion, and having his fifth start here could relish being able to overtake dogs on the first corner. His strength is sound and has already been over the 600 meters two starts back. Look for this runner to be making up ground late at big odds.
Vic Breeders Semi-Final Three
Jeff Britton’s Mepunga Hayley will start favourite after winning her heat in 30.32. It comes out to the widest box for its third career start, and may appreciate the room to get into stride.
Mantaray Lad is a son of Mantra Lad that hasn’t put a foot wrong in the first five times it has graced the track. Yet to miss a place, the red fawn chaser is crying out for a win, and he will be doing his best work late in the race and could perform well if able to overcome the awkward five alley.
The Dewan crew have Dewana Babe drawn alongside in box six. She was beaten by Pappa Galo by just over a length, but made up good ground after being near the rear early. The draw won’t help, but with this type of field often struggling to run out the trip, she could charge home again if settling near enough to the leaders during the run.
They are only three of many chances in the race, with Destini Lobo, Beks and Premier Woofie all in contention after solid heat runs.
Vic Breeders Semi-Final Number Four
Quite an even semi-final to finish off with, with the two heat winners in the field going 30.54 and 30.56 respectively. They were Miss Safari for Tina Womann, who draws the red on this occasion, and Venom’s Lad for Jennifer Thorpe who will exit box three.
Both those greyhounds led all the way in their heats, and this time around could be found out if a stronger runner can get a clear crack at them.
Speedie Rioli for Peter Kelly could be one such runner, having started over the 500-metre journeys at all of his five starts to date. He will need luck from eight, but these maiden races are hard to predict and the breaks might just go his way.
Otherwise Dasha Mikado for Maria Barber was narrowly beaten in 30.60 on debut, and from the same box could improve with the run under his belt. The rest look well held with big margin defeats in similar times to those mentioned above.
The top two from each semi will progress to the final, with $25,000 going the winner of this wonderful three-week journey.