On February 12, we started with 60 dogs and come Saturday night, only eight remain in this year’s Group 3 Vic Breeders series.
The prestigious title has traditionally been won by dogs who reach far greater heights, and based on the four rough and tough semi-finals, the 2014 victor is set up to have a long, profitable career.
With the heats and semis taking place on the previous two Wednesday afternoons, many readers will be unfamiliar with the finalists. So this is the opportunity to get acquainted with your contenders for the $25,000 prize on offer for race five at The Meadows this weekend:
1) Dewana Lass (Dozus Two Syn/Brendan Dewan) – Won her heat over Punk Pirate in 30.20 before beating Hession Boots in 30.40. Lobbed second from an inside draw on both occasions before being too strong in the straight. Hard to find fault in that form line, with both runners-up in this final. Draws inside again and has the ability to punch up to a handy spot. Hard to beat.
2) Venom’s Lad (Jennifer Thorpe) – Paper form looks really good with wins in both weeks, but realistically is going to be tested against this opposition. Led from box three in the semi-final but was lucky to survive a rough first corner when repeating a time of 30.56. Drawn well, but would need to find a few lengths at both ends of the race to match motors with some of the others here.
3) Pappa Gallo (Tony Cortese/Mario Cortese) – Had some experience at Healesville before this series. Won a heat from box seven, and was solid in defeat last week, but his overall times of 30.68 and 30.42 suggest this might be a bit tough. Will need luck early as there will be dogs beginning well both inside and out, and should start double-figure odds for those reasons.
4) Hession Boots (Tynstar Syn/Rodney Clark) – Appreciated the room it was given from box one last start when almost running down Dewana Lass in 30.40. Won’t be afforded that luxury from this draw and will need luck in running. Could be a handy dog in the future with a bit of maturity, as the 525 metres and beyond appear no concern.
5) Punk Pirate (Christopher Perkins/Michelle Mallia-Magri) – Has shown good mustering speed in all three starts to date and has solid formlines throughout this series. Was beaten narrowly by Dewana Lass in the quickest heat before leading all the way in 30.34 last week. Might get a good run with little early speed directly inside, but must not be crossed by Premier Woofie early. If allowed to dictate terms, he could take running down.
6) Premier Woofie (Steven Hawkins/Mario Briganti) – Pinged out last start before finding Mepunga Hayley too strong in good time. A repeat could sneak a place, but didn’t jump well in the heat run which raises concerns of consistency. Draw isn’t ideal either. His fate rests on finding the fence in the opening stages.
7) Lead Into Demise (Michael Crowe/Rodney Clark) – Gives trainer Rodney Clark two chances in the race. Was fortunate to be one the dogs left standing in a demolition derby of a semi-final. Almost got up to blouse Venom’s Lad on the line in that race, although draws wider for the final. Is the most experienced runner of the starting eight with a huge tally of five starts, although none of which suggest there is enough ability to break the maiden status in a Group race of this calibre. Deserves its place in the final, but will be big odds.
8) Mepunga Hayley (Barry Smith/Jeff Britton) – Was unplaced at Warrnambool on debut, before wins in the heat from box four (30.32) and semi from box eight (30.01). Came away and finished really well last start, gunning down Premier Woofie, who could lead again here. Looks a likely type for the future, but for now will need luck from the wide draw. If she gets it, she will play a big part at the business end of proceedings.
9) Blurred Lines (Paul Westerveld/Kelly Bravo) – Was a good run in the semi-final when third behind Punk Pirate, beaten just over two lengths. Not the worst runner in this line-up and has been consistent in all eight starts to date. Could run a bold race if given the chance, otherwise will be a winner elsewhere shortly.
10) Mantaray Lad (Rose Geall/David Geall) – Genuine second reserve runner that has scrapped six placings from six starts. Was comfortably held in both heat and semi, and will be looking to break its duck on an easier assignment.
The GRV Vic Breeders finalists will be set loose at 8.20pm local time.