Australia's second richest staying race, the Sky Channel Galaxy roars around Cannington this Saturday night. An $80,000 cheque will await the winner, and with a field as talented as the one assembled this year, every cent will have to be earned.
Four heats were a feature of a great program of racing last weekend, with all of them being won by clear margins, making it tough to find a clear favourite for the final.
Probably the most impressive of the performances was local greyhound Pillow Torque. After breaking the Sandown Park track record recently, Pillow Torque returned home and showed that run was no fluke. Settling third behind early leader Robert Andrew, this member of the wonderful Big Daddy Cool-Abbadale Gold litter took control entering the back straight, and from there it was all over.
The journey was completed in 41.54, with 4.25 lengths back to the second placed Blue Lorian. The reigning National Champ made good ground to qualify for the final and may represent value come final night. Both Pillow Torque and Blue Lorian race wonderfully well around their home track of Cannington, and should be right in the finish for the final.
Victorian youngster Bobby Boucheau will be trying to make the Galaxy his breakout series after he displayed a very strong win in the third heat. Starting a very short $1.50 favourite, he managed to loom up to third upon settling. Local greyhound Kay Size still showed the way off the back, with Association Cup winner Seek And Destroy in pursuit.
Little did they know Bobby Boucheau was about to click into gear as he raced past before opening up in the home straight. Angela Jackson must be giggling thinking of the future with this fellow, after he'll enter the final with an identical time to Pillow Torque, 41.54, a BON run.
It was pleasing to see Victorian So Seductive resume racing after a two-month layoff. Picking up where she left off, Kel Greenough's charger showed her class when taking out heat four in a canter. After pushing up to second early in the race, she made a slashing mid-race move and ran out the 715m with ease. Having over seven lengths to spare, So Seductive ran the trip in 41.92 – a time which will need to come down for the dogs' second run back and second look at the tricky Cannington layout.
Hallpack Jack tried valiantly to catch So Seductive, but couldn't run out the trip quite as well as her Victorian opponent. Drawn box two in the final will help, and if there is trouble back in the field, Hallpack Jack may just pinch a winning break, or at least cling on to a place.
Evergreen Queenslander, Dashing Corsair will contest another Group final after her typical lead-all-the-way win. This fawn chaser has been a model of consistency for years for owner Josephine Fitch and it will be a phenomenal feat if it can win the Galaxy almost two years after winning a National Sprint final at the same track. His heat-winning time (41.79) would suggest he may need to improve a few lengths, but only a fool would dare write off this top-line chaser.
Mega Pixel clinched the other final berth behind Dashing Corsair, and it would take a brave punter to suggest that there would be a big enough form reversal for Mega Pixel to win. In saying that, box one is a huge advantage in big races, and trainer John Paikos will be relieved to see the red vest on his entrant come Saturday night.
Scuttlebut enters the field courtesy of Seek And Destroy who is unable to contest the final. While only new to the 715m ranks, Scuttlebut would need to improve sharply in order to hold off this hot field.
Reserves for the race will be Westend Thomas, who could sneak a place if gains a start after a strong (and unlucky) showing in its heat behind Bobby Boucheau. Second reserve Nellie Noodles is as capable as any on her night, but just can't seem to find the same form that saw her rise to prominence last year.
Final night will be a highlight on the Western Australian racing circuit. Entry will be free with giveaways, a live band and fireworks sure to keep the big crowd entertained. Racing purists won't be needing any of that to hold their interest, as the Galaxy final joins the Perth Cup to make a bumper annual night of racing.
2011 Sky Channel Galaxy Final $80,000-$22665-$11335
1) Mega Pixel (WA) – John Paikos
2) Hallpack Jack (WA) – David Hobby
3) Scuttlebut (WA) – Ricky Valenti
4) Blue Lorian (WA) – Peter Whye
5) Pillow Torque (WA) – Dan Biddle
6) So Seductive (Vic) – Kel Greenough
7) Bobby Boucheau (Vic) – Angela Jackson
8) Dashing Corsair (QLD) – Dwyer Lennon