Master trainer Graeme Bate took out the final Group 1 event of 2010 when exciting youngster Up And Away scored a thrilling victory in the $72,500 Group 1 Macro Meats Laurels Classic at Sandown Park tonight.
Coming into the race on the back of seven consecutive wins, Up And Away was widely tipped to lead the race, however it was favourite and fastest qualifier Kalden Athena ($2.90) who was the best to begin. However Up And Away ($3.90) soon mustered pace to take a clear lead through the first turn.
Up And Away then raced clear down the back straight with Isadoll ($3.90) and Kalden Athena in hot pursuit. The chasing pair engaged in a brief bumping duel before Kalden Athena made her move upon turning for home.
In a thrilling finish befitting such a prestigious race, Up And Away finished a nose to the good of Kalden Athena in a slick 29.59.
Bate's second runner, Tonnelli Bale ($9.70), capitalised on a brilliant rails run to finish just three quarters of a length away in third in one of the strongest Laurels Classic finals seen in the race's 46 year history.
It was the fourth time since 1997 that Bate has taken out greyhound racing's version of the Oaks, an achievement that was not lost on the Greyhound Racing Hall Of Fame member.
“The Laurels is a time honoured event that I've been involved in quite a lot of times and this is a real thrill,” said Bate.
“It's great a for a lovely family of owners who made the trek down from Yambuk in western Victoria. They (Ann and Bernard Sinnott, who also bred the greyhound) were a little reluctant to make the drive down but I talked them into it. I said she's a fair dinkum chance.”
Despite the numerous champions that have graced Bate's Lara kennels over the years, he has great affection for the 21 month old daughter of Where's Pedro.
“This greyhound thinks like no other dog that I've ever had.
“When she was reared we couldn't keep her in her run. The fences were six feet high and she'd sail over them – up and away she's go!”
The win was also a fantastic result for Scope in Manifold Heights, who as a spin off for their association with Up And Away through the Great Chase series, receive the equivalent of 10 per cent of the prizemoney earned by Up And Away for the next 12 months. It is an association that has already reaped the Geelong based organisation more than $15,000.
The win was her 11th from 15 career starts, and took her career prizemoney to $102,135.