The five most recent editions of the world’s richest staying race have been won by female greyhounds – starting with Irma Bale, who won the race in 2012 and 2013, followed by Sweet It Is (2015 & 2015) and finally Bells Are Ringin’, which won the most recent edition in 2016.
Bookmakers give all three bitches a genuine chance, with all set to start under double figure odds.
The standout of the trio as far as the market is concerned appears to be Fanta Bale, a three-time group 1 winner, which will be having her fourth crack at the testing staying trip on Thursday night.
“There are six to seven genuine chances in the Cup and I would love to see her lead but getting across dogs like Teddy Monelli isn’t going to be an easy task,” Britton told Going Greyhounds.
“Fanta Bale has a very consistent racing style that enables her to work through a field well.”
Meanwhile, Seona Thompson told GRV she is excited by Midnight Elsa, which ran a huge second in her heat behind Fanta Bale at just her fifth race start.
“She excites me, it won’t surprise me if she’s thereabouts in the final, and it wouldn’t surprise me if she goes on to be a top line stayer,” Thompson said.
The other female in the $175,000 to the winner event, Dundee Calypso, enters the race in career best form, having won four of her past five starts.
“I gave her a spell when she come on season and she just seems to have come back stronger and a bit more mature – she is very focused at the moment,” trainer Geoff Scott-Smith told Australian Racing Greyhound.
“Ideally I would have liked one, two or three – but box seven isn’t the worst draw for her because Fanta Bale might give her a good cart into the race.
“I don’t think she has to lead to win – a few starts back she gave Fanta Bale five lengths start and beat her in 41.70 so I think she can do it both ways – she can lead or come from behind – but hopefully she doesn’t settle too far back.”
The favourite for the race is Burn One Down which appears well drawn in box one. The son of Buck Fever and Fancy Jaffa was having just his second start back from a spell in last week’s heat, prevailing in the closing stages to defeat a gallant Dundee Calypso.
If he is to win on Thursday night, Burn One Down will become the first greyhound to salute wearing red in the Sandown Cup since Osti’s Joker who took out the group 1 feature 17 years ago.
One of three greyhounds engaged for Seona Thompson, Burn One Down will take his career earnings beyond half a million dollars if he is successful in the feature.
Meanwhile, Thompson’s third greyhound, Trip To Eden, represents value around the $17 mark, with the son of Solve The Puzzle and Key To Eden yet to miss a place from his past six starts.
Dundee Osprey, another three-time group 1 winner, could be the forgotten greyhound around the $10 mark. He loves Sandown Park where he won the 2016 Group 1 Harrison-Dawson, whilst he is also well drawn in box eight – the same box he exited when winning the Group 1 Topgun late last year.
The only interstate greyhound in the race is Teddy Monelli – at $17 – with the WA greyhound aiming to become the first dog from outside Victoria since Tassie chaser Chinatown Lad back in 2008.
Rounding out the field is Brolly Bale – the rank outsider at $71. He is trained by Rob Britton and is a litter brother to the great Fanta Bale.
Can he do the seemingly impossible at huge odds? Last year’s winner Bells Are Ringin’ saluted at 40-1 and, as they say, anything can happen in greyhound racing.
Only time will tell.
The Group 1 Sandown Cup is race eight and is set to jump at 9.40pm.