Strutt surprised with Stagger Out Lee’s Super Stayers heat win
Jack Strutt admits Stagger Out Lee is full of surprises, and the way in which she won her Fanta Bale Super Stayers heat at The Meadows was certainly a pleasant one.
The talented two-year-old bitch was the second-fastest qualifier for this Saturday night's Group 1 final over 730m, crossing the line in 42.57 seconds and winning her heat by 2 ½ lengths.
After starting from the coveted box one, she got herself three lengths behind leader Golden Quest before the Zoom Top winner once again used her brilliant turn of foot on the straight to get her home.
It was a much different strategy to the incredible fashion in which she won the Bold Trease final on November 26.
She came from last to first late on the straight to win that Group 1 title.
“It's definitely been a ride. I've been all over the east coast with her, and she's full of surprises too,” Strutt told Australian Racing Greyhound when recounting her past few months.
Fanta Bale Super Stayers Heat 2 – Stagger Out Lee (1st)
The young Wagga Wagga-based conditioner would like to see his star stayer – with 12 wins from 59 starts – use her heat-winning blueprint for success in Saturday night's final.
Ariarne Bale for Daniel Gibbons was the fastest qualifier, crossing the line in 42.54 seconds.
“I think Ariarne will be hard to run down if she pulls off another run like that,” Strutt said.
“Hopefully she can get in behind them and get a clear run, and get a shot at them late.
“That's probably her best chance.”
Many greyhound racing fans know all about Stagger Out Lee's amazing late turn of foot, but before this month it had been a while since she won a race from a good stalking position up the front of the pack.
That appears to be changing.
Coming out of box six, she won the Zoom Top final from a strong third position heading into the turn for home on February 11, before her classy Fanta Bale Super Stayers heat victory on Saturday night.
“Not since her early days (has she won from good positions). But I definitely know that's what she's capable of,” Strutt said.
“It's sort of a frustrating thing too.”
Stagger Out Lee's mental state has also improved since an accident at The Meadows about 12 months ago.
“She definitely goes around with a lot more confidence these days,” the NSW trainer said.
“About a year ago she checked the rail here in a 500m race, and she hasn't been the same since then.
“But she's got her confidence back.”
Gibbons was also pleasantly surprised with the nature of Ariarne Bale's front-running win from box eight in her heat, beating Golden Ratio by a comfortable 4 ¾ lengths.
“She doesn't usually jump like that,” he said.
“For her to jump and lead was a surprise.
“I was pretty confident when I saw her in front. I didn't think anything was going to catch her when she got to the lead.
“If she jumps like that in the final she'll have a chance.”