A second trophy over his specialist 600m may be on the cards for Santino Marella, lining up in the Heats of the Big Dog Challenge this Thursday night in Brisbane.
The Stephen Rolph-trained middle distance star found the line in impressive form during the Winter Carnival to take out the Group Three Big Dog Cup, and now has his eye on the Big Dog Challenge.
The Big Dog Challenge is in its second year and will feature two strong heats, with the final next week.
This Thursday at Albion Park will also see the running of the Gem Christmas Stocking, a fifth grade feature worth $5,000 to the winner.
Santino Marella will have his work cut out from him in box four in the first heat, but will be at short odds on his previous form at the Creek over the distance.
Inside, Miss Jersey will be flying the flag for the Dart kennels and is sure to be a top chance with his good box speed and his record of five wins and two thirds from only seven starts over 600m.
Miss Jersey won a competitive 710m race last week and is sure to be in form again this Thursday.
In this Heat first starter Cool Rock Hero will be one to keep an eye on showing speedy form just over the border and has drawn box one this week.
In Heat Two (Race Eight) Bob Belford’s consistent chaser Pedro’s Money has drawn the red and will be hoping to make it five straight wins after conquering the distance to win in his past four.
However, he will need to come out firing with Peter Reutschi’s quick black dog Count The Dough sure to pounce once the lids open. Count The Dough will jump form box five.
Beside him in box six is Falcon Flash for trainer Lee Wylie, who has won his last two in Brisbane in very descent times including two weeks ago in 35.05.
Another to keep an eye on is Peter Roy’s Royston Renegade who has proven form over the distance, but has been campaigning over the sprints lately. Royston Renegade’s best win was a sharp 35.01 in March.
The Gem Christmas Stocking Heats are just as thrilling as the quality in the Big Dog Challenge, with Heat One boasting Tony Brett’s emerging speedster Robo Rapture and Tony Zammit’s improver Purchase Order.
Robo Rapture was unlucky in his Brisbane Cup Heat after missing the jump, and last week saw a similar run to be beaten by a group-like time from emerging greyhound Late Show Lee in 29.96.
However, there will be less competition in this field for Robo Rapture, with no evident early speed on his inside when jumping from box three.
Although, Purchase Order is sure to come screaming across the field from box seven after blitzing the field in his last start, winning by almost 11 lengths, and burning a 5.79 first sectional.
While these two are sure to be the top-rated betting favourites, an each way hope would have to go to Emma Allen from box five who has been winning races in Brisbane, including her last two.
In Heat Two (Race Six) Tony Brett is in with a chance for a quinella with Velocity Force in box three, and Banzai Pipeline in box seven.
Velocity Force boasts the best time of the field from September where she ran a solid 29.94.
Banzai Pipeline showed good abilities also last week to take out a quality fifth grade 520m from the same box he jumps from tonight.
Max Hay’s Quarter Time will jump from box two and should never be taken lightly, popping up with wins when it counts.
Andy Albion’s Best Bets:
- Race 1 Number 1 Never Enough
- Race 4 Number 3 Robo Rapture
- Race 5 Number 1 Premier Chief