Sandown Park plays host to six heats of the time honoured Group Two McKenna Memorial tonight with some of the countries best middle distance greyhounds assembling for a crack at the cool $40,000 first prize.
The race is run over the 595 metre journey that requires dogs to overcome a tricky bend start and also possess the ability to run out a trying middle distance trip.
The race had been held over the longer 715 metre trip up until 2009 with Flash Of Light’s 2010 win being the first time the race was run over the shorter distance.
Some of the more recent winners of the McKenna Memorial include Kobble Creek (1999), Osti’s Joker (2000), Pearl Larricki (2001), Boomeroo (2002), Arvo’s Junior (2003), Malfoy (2005), Fallen Zorro (2008), Mantra Lad (2009) and Irma Bale (2012).
Here is a look at the main chances in each of the six heats;
Race 4 – Macro Meats McKenna Memorial Heat 1 – 8:08pm
The first heat features the return of the classy Bookkeeper (2). The son of Bombastic Shiraz and Smashing Amy (Collide – Amy Grace) has not raced since mid February and is capable of carving out lightning times if he is right. He has won four of his 10 attempts at this trip and has a best of 34.04. Should he be anywhere near his best then he is the one to beat.
Tarks Nemesis (7) has been racing over the longer trips and has had a slight freshen up after finding plenty of trouble in a heat of the Group One Albion Park Gold Cup on the 5th of June. The Angela Langton trained bitch has her share of early and mid-race pace and if she can put herself in the firing line early, she looms as a major player in this heat.
Cosmic Wise (8) has been racing consistently over the middle distance trips for trainer Jeff Britton. She registered a slick 34.17 here two starts back and has performed well from outside draws in the past.
Ever Alert (4) has recently stepped up to middle distance racing and has impressed by winning his first two outings. He won at the Meadows over 600 metres in 34.64 two starts back before running a swift 34.24 over this journey last time out.
Race 5 – Macro Meats McKenna Memorial Heat 2 – 8:28pm
Supersonic Hawk (2) looks well boxed to improve on recent efforts in the second heat. The Jeff Britton trained son of Westmead Hawk and Shelby Shiraz (Bombastic Shiraz – Proper Shelby) had no luck just after the start last time out and it may pay to overlook that effort. He is always thereabouts over this journey and has a best of 34.41. He is capable of a big run here.
Sisco Rage (3) returns to the more suitable 595 metre journey after a couple of flashing finishes over sprint trips in recent times. He stopped the clock at 34.40 in his only run over this trip which was back in late February. If he can manage a clean getaway he will be in this up to his ears.
Prue Bale (4) is an enigmatic type with more than her share of ability. She has not won since April when she flew around this trip to register a fast 34.14. It would take a form reversal for her to win but she definitely has the talent.
Great Spartacus (1) has come up with a nice box for trainer Kelly Bravo. The fawn dog should be the early leader and loves the rails alley, he could be in the race for a long way.
Born Ali (7) is a Group One winning bitch over the longer trips who steps back in distance for this heat. She has class on her side and has gone 34.21 here in the past. She is likely to need a bit of luck in the run to feature.
Race 6 – Macro Meats McKenna Memorial Heat 3 – 8:52pm
The third heat boasts some top quality chasers, none more so then Surf Mail (6) who loves the 595 metre trip at Sandown Park. The Darren McDonald trained son of Surf Lorian and Hybrid Theory (Bond – Renee’s Special) has won four of his six starts at this journey including a rapid 34.10. He has been flying over the sprint distances recently and won here last week in 29.55. He is the one to beat in this race.
Group One Rookie Rebel winner Hawk Alone (3) chases his second middle distance crown when he steps back up for this race. The Andrea Dailly trained dog has been racing well over sprint trips and has won two of his four over the 595 metres with a best of 34.41. If he can begin on terms he looms as the main danger.
Recent Bulli Gold Cup winner My Boy Snoop (1) is an interesting runner from the rails alley. The Anthony Azzopardi trained long strider has had three recent starts in Victoria over the sprints and looks like he will relish the step up in distance. He looks a genuine each way chance.
Kelly Bravo rugs up Lethal Three (7) and she could very possibly lead the race from the wide box. She has won two from five here and posted a best of 34.25. She meets a hot field in this heat but is not without her chances.
Race 7 – Macro Meats McKenna Memorial Heat 4 – 9:11pm
The speedy Go Mobo (1) looks perfectly boxed in the fourth heat for Lara trainer Rob Camilleri. The regally bred son of Mogambo and Off Springer (Flying Penske – Skullring) is the probable leader and has the imposing record of three wins from four starts out of box one. He has also finished in the top two at his last seven outings and boasts a best of 34.32. He will take some catching.
Musquin Bale (6) is the winner of the Group Three Bert Bryant Memorial and tuned up for this nicely with a 34.61 win at the Meadows last week. He should be able to find a position somewhere near the lead early and with a clean run, he will be right in the firing line at the business end of proceedings.
My Bro Fabio (5) is a relative newcomer to the middle distance journey but gives the impression that it is right up his alley. He overcame early trouble to flash home for an eye catching second to Go Mobo last week. He will be hoping for early luck to be a chance here.
Race 9 – Macro Meats McKenna Memorial Heat 5 – 9:35pm
Superstar bitch Xylia Allen (8) headlines the fifth heat. She returns to the 595 metre journey after a successful trip north where she took out the Superstayers over 710 metres at Albion Park. The daughter of Turanza Bale and Tayah Bale (Droopys Vieri – Francesca Bale) has plenty of early toe which should mean that the drop back in distance is not a concern. She is undefeated in two starts here including an airborne 33.79 effort in February. She is a freak and easily the big gun in this one.
Gimme Fuel (1) has his first go at the Sandown 595 metre journey in this heat. He is a consistent performer who should be close to the speed early and poised to strike in the run home.
Searle Bale (5) can be a little risky at box rise but has a big motor and can figure in the finish with a clean run. She registered a zippy 34.08 here a fortnight ago and a repeat of that would have to see her given serious each-way consideration.
Cornelius Fudge (4) is a strong finisher who should be doing his best work late in the event. The worry for him is whether or not he gets room to move in transit during the race. If he does he is a definite contender for exotics.
Race 10 – Macro Meats McKenna Memorial Heat 6 – 9:55pm
The final heat features the continuation of talented bitch Dyna Kayla’s (6) return to racing. In three runs back from a two month let up, she has won two over shorter trips and shown some of the form that led to her starting in multiple Group staying events at her very first preparation. She has a personal best of 33.99 here and is undefeated in two starts over the journey. She looks a huge hope in this heat.
Luby Loo (1) is an exciting youngster who has taken to middle distance racing like a duck to water. She has won her last three at three different tracks and stopped the clock at 34.05 here last week. If she can handle the class rise she can go very close in this one.
Tick Bale (5) is well performed over this trip but has been done no favours by the draw. He has won two of his three starts here and has a best of 34.32 but he is likely to only be away fairly and as a result is going to need luck.
Dream It (4) is a very talented conveyance but he is yet to fill a place in two appearances over this journey. Should he manage to come out running he could spring an upset at each way odds.
Mepunga Tiara (8) has not won for over a month and has struggled from the outside draw in the past but has a fast 34.15 to her credit over this journey which she recorded in May. She has won two from six at the trip and should be prominent early.