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One of the highlights of a big night of racing at Sandown Park on Thursday night is the final of the Group One Sapphire Classic.
The event has been around since 1974 and was originally an age restricted race open to dogs and bitches. Token Prince won the race in 1997.
In 2002, the event was changed to a bitches only race. Since 2002 some outstanding bitches have taken out the feature event. The honour roll includes the likes of Bogie Leigh, Paua To Burn (twice), Betty’s Angel, Que Sera Sera, Queen Lauryn, Cindeen Shelby and Xylia Allen. The race wasn’t run in 2010 due to a change in the Australian Greyhound Racing Association calendar.
West Australian trained bitch Zelemar Fever (3) is the favourite for this years race, scoring in fast 29.34 in the fastest of the four heats last week. She is the 2014 Temlee champion and looks to have a good chance of adding another a Group race victory to her CV.
The Sapphire Classic is Race 6 on the card and jumps at 8:52pm. Here’s a look at this years final;
Comments: Handy bitch who missed the start last week and suffered some interference. She showed good chasing tenacity to qualify for the final but a repeat of last week’s box manners will probably mean trouble. She has recorded a best of 5.00 to the first mark and will need to draw on that to put herself in the race.
Comments:Linda Britton (Trainer) – “The inside draw is better with her, it is a lot better then getting the six. I would prefer her closer to the inside but I am happy with the three. She has always been above average and always tries her best. We are hoping she goes well.”
Comments: ARG opinion – Got lucky turning for home last week after Especially and Cairnlea Ella suffered interference. She took advantage of this opportunity to run into second place. She could find trouble from the draw.
Comments:Angela Langton (Co-Trainer) – “She’s very strong and probably one of the fastest in the race but she is slow early. We are hoping for some luck early but she has a fast beginner on her outside.”
Comments: Linda Britton (Trainer) – “She will definitely need to show her early pace again. She trialled quicker then the time she ran last week. She was a little unsettled last week and we had a bit of trouble with her weight. We are hoping she goes better this week as she has had a chance to settle a bit more.”
Comments: Robert Britton (Trainer) – “Very happy with how she went last week. If she can repeat the 5.02 split from last week it would be good. However, I would have preferred an inside draw. It will be tough to get across from out there. There is a lot of pace in the race. If they can run 5.02 early you expect them to lead, with all of the pace in the race though, the inside dogs have some sort of advantage.”
Comments: Angela Langton (Co-Trainer) – “We were hoping she would draw inside as she likes to be on the fence. She is a better beginner then her sister and hopefully she begins and gets a cart across. She is also strong.”
Comments: Likely to struggle if she gets a start. Led last week but was run down by Oakvale Flyer and Prue Bale.
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Zelemar Fever (3) has drawn well and will need to begin on terms to avoid interference into the turn. She has the time on the board and only needs to repeat that to secure the win. There’s a bit of pace in the race and Linda Britton’s other chaser, Te Amo (6), could very well lead as she has Oakvale Destiny (5) on her inside. Oakvale Destiny is a slow beginner and will give Te Amo that extra little bit of room. Watch for Oakvale Destiny in the closing stages as she is very strong. Prue Bale (1) couldn’t quite get to the lead last week but she has drawn the cherry this week which should give her every chance.
Oakvale Flyer (8) is a better beginner then her sister Oakvale Destiny and she is also strong. She looks an each-way chance if she can get some luck from the pink box. Amadeus Strikes (7) has been beginning well her last couple of starts but moves to the undesirable outside alley. Last week’s first section was great and if she can do that again, she could get near to the lead. You Say Goodbye (2) missed the start from box two last week and can’t afford to do the same this week. Her sister, Hot Dream (4), took advantage of the opportunities that were presented to her last week but she isn’t likely to get the same favours again this week.