O’Keeffe puts the polish on Ring The Bell which has drawn box three in the four dog, invitation only feature, with the brindle chaser rated a $4.80 shot with Bet365.
The son of Kinloch Brae and Absolute Stunna comes into the race following a seventh finish in the Group 1 Albion Park Gold Cup (710m) two weeks ago and will face the first two past the post in that event, My Boy Brodie (box seven) and Cyndie’s Magic (box one), as well as South Australian star Luna Jinx (box five).
While he concedes it will be a tough race against some quality opposition, O’Keeffe rates his stayer a big threat to take home the $25,200 winner’s cheque.
“While he is the least performed greyhound of the four in the field he is dog with outstanding ability and I expect him to run a bold race on Thursday,” O’Keeffe told Australian Racing Greyhound.
“The four dog field suits him perfectly and I expect him to improve quite a few lengths on his performance in his Gold Cup heat – he hadn’t seen Albion Park when he ran Cyndie’s Magic to a head in that race.
“He does his best racing when he is able to dictate the race out in front so I am hoping he will be able to do that from box three on Thursday.”
O’Keeffe was far from disappointed with his greyhounds run in the final of the Gold Cup, finding trouble at an important part of the event.
“I am very biased in favour of my dogs, like every trainer, but I don’t think he ran a bad race in the Gold Cup.
“He crossed into second and then he found trouble and got sat on his bottom for about 20m.
“When that happened he went from second to sixth and he wasn’t able to make any ground on them.”
So high is O’Keeffe’s opinion of Ring The Bell, he rates the 32 kilogram dog faster than his litter sister, Bells Are Ringin’, which claimed the world’s richest staying event, the Group 1 Sandown Cup, earlier this year.
“There is a great deal between the pair.
“Ring The Bell is a good six to eight lengths faster than his sister – he always has been.
“Ring The Bell has had no luck in the big finals, whereas Bells Are Ringin’ was the recipient of a huge amount of good luck when she won the Sandown Cup.
“Everything went her way that night – she wasn’t the best dog in the field but she was the best dog on the night.
“It would be a huge travesty if Ring The Bell doesn’t manage to win two or three group 1 staying races throughout his career – he has that much ability.”