Anyone who loves a punt on the thoroughbreds knows the importance of Derby Day. It’s the one meeting where every race would be a feature event any other day. Knowing that horses who have been winning prolifically all over the country will come together and clash over nine races on one magical afternoon gets the heart racing. Crowds are huge, pools are huge, dividends are huge, prizemoney is huge.
More importantly it’s the one day of the year that is directed to those lovers of the sport. It’s a little bit sacred for the thoroughbred purist. Horse folks would never work, get married, travel, go shopping, or even mow the lawn on Derby day. Motorsport has Bathurst, Cricket has the Boxing Day Test, it’s Wimbledon for Tennis and for the equine fraternity, there are no friends on Derby Day.
So with that in mind, have a look at the fields this Thursday night at Sandown. Eleven Group 1 heats – eight over the sprint and three for the stayers – should be reason enough for any dog enthusiast to write-off all other plans and make one thing a priority. To put it simply, it’s our version of Derby Day.
Now sure, there are big nights all over the calendar, many are worth looking forward to, but they don’t quite measure up to this one. Melbourne Cup heats are something a little special. There’s seems to be that tiny bit more on the line, that little extra significance. For anyone who wishes to be worth their greyhound salt, they need to be watching on Thursday.
Understandably, many will think that the Melbourne Cup final should be given these kinds of descriptions or attributes. It is the richest and most sought after prize in our sport, yes.
But as was mentioned in the thoroughbred example, the glitz, ceremony and media coverage of the final is one thing. It will expose our sport to thousands that have never seen a greyhound race in their life and is marketed accordingly. But the existence of an entire programme of known stars, up against each other eleven times, is something completely different.
What can we see on Thursday that we won’t see any other night? Well, to start with, dogs who have won 25 or more races starting at odds of $16.50, dogs that won last start by 10 lengths struggling to keep up down the back, dogs that are renowned for early speed being burnt off around the first bend. The reality is that no other meeting can compare in terms of field strength, and punting value.
The fact it doesn’t get the attention of Final night shouldn’t matter. Those of us that love our dog racing (and most likely those reading this article) don’t need T.V advertisements to a make a night special. We don’t need handlers in suits or celebrities presenting trophies. We need the best dogs in the land, coming together for eleven magnificent showdowns for big money and even bigger bragging rights.
So this Thursday night be sure to have an early dinner. If you can’t get to the track, make sure the laptop is charged, the betting account is loaded, the phone is off the hook and Sky Channel is blaring. Probably wise to throw the remote in the garden, just in case. After all, it’s our night to shine, so get excited and appreciate the occasion.