ABOVE All will be aiming to become the first greyhound to claim consecutive runnings of the Hobart Thousand (461 metres) in over half a century when he contests a heat of the Group 1 feature on Thursday night.
Check out our full preview of Thursday’s heats here.
Trained by Rob Britton, Above All is aiming to emulate the Hilda Williamson-trained Ophir Gold which took out the time honoured event in 1962 and 1963 respectively.
The son of Magic Sprite and Kara Janx trialled in an impressive 25.85 in preparation for this years series, however it hasn’t all been smooth sailing over the past 12 months.
The current track record holder went on to take out the Group 1 Silver Chief Classic (525 metres) at The Meadows in the weeks following his Tassie success, but has only faced the starter on seven occasions since with serious and persistent injuries hindering his career.
With plenty of tender loving care on the sidelines, Britton is hopeful that his star sprinter is finally nearing his peak.
“He damaged the tendons that run off the stopper bone on both sides and they are critical injuries that a lot of dogs don’t come back from, but at this stage he has held up and it is looking pretty good,” Britton told Australian Racing Greyhound.
“He is still reaching his peak fitness wise, but he still broke 26 in his trial so you have got to say he is going well.
“It wasn’t his very best time, but in saying that it was still good and every run back for him he has improved so I would like to think with a clear run that he should go close to winning on Thursday night.”
Above All will exit box three in the third of six heats and is currently $1.85 with Bet365 to win his way into next week’s $75,000 to the winner final. Britton says he is happy with the draw, with his charge just needing luck in the early stages to be able to feature.
“It is good to see him draw a better box for once – he has had a lot of box fives throughout his career – but I guess to make it at the top level you have got to be able to perform out of any draw.
“I think the key to him is being left alone when he comes out of the boxes – he isn’t a brilliant box dog but he can muster pace when he hits the ground and if he is left along he should go well.”
Britton is also taking the ultra consistent Bearville Azza across for the trip which trialled in a nippy 25.88 last week. The former local has taken his career to the next level since joining Britton’s kennel, running fourth in the Group 1 Melbourne Cup behind Dyna Double One and Fernando Bale last month.
Bearville Azza is $2.80 to take out the fourth heat where he has drawn box six against a quality field.
“To be realistic he was a class below to the dogs he was chasing home in the Melbourne Cup, but in saying that he has really taken the next step and he is racing well against elite company every week and that is all you can ask,” Britton said.
“He is racing really well and he is showing genuine early pace in his races – another positive is that he is back at his home track – when he came to Melbourne he had won six on end at Hobart so clearly he likes the place.
“I give him a great chance in his heat, although it is a very difficult race.”
Britton will be hoping for a great night all round, with the leading Victorian mentor also a live chance in the Group 3 Sir John Dillon Memorial (595 metres) at Sandown Park.
Britton prepares Lithgow Panther which is drawn well in box one following a slick 34.15 in his heat last week.
“He is drawn well and it was a great run in his heat, but on a bend start against such quality opposition I think luck will play a massive part in who wins – although I am hoping that we are the lucky ones through the first turn.”
Click here to read our preview of Thursday’s Sir John Dillon Memorial.