With first split record holder Purcell Bale missing the start from box 2, the field jostled for position in the run to the first turn. Many greyhounds found trouble however Gunda Bale stuck fast to the rails and found herself three lengths clear on entering the back straight.
The chasing pack set off in pursuit of the unexpected front runner, however they could do little to reign in the lamp lighter, Gunda Bale going on to defeat the gallant Oenjay Dancer by 1.5 lengths with favourite and kennel mate Langi Bale a further 1.5 length away third in 30.01 seconds.
Gunda Bale was one of four finalists for master trainer Graeme Bate and was the least fancied of the quartet. She was sent to the boxes rated a $35 chance by TAB – the only greyhound in the race to start at a price greater than $8.50.
“I threw her into the series thinking she might be an improver and she’s just got better with each start,” said Bate.
“They didn’t run much time, but she’s won the Laurels.”
Gunda Bale has now won 11 of her 30 career starts and took her prize money to $73,275.
Gunda Bale is Bate’s fourth Macro Meats Laurels winner following Moonabel Gem (1997), Hail A Harley (2001) and Katella Bale (2002). She also provided Bate’s Topgun winning chaser Dyna Lachlan with his first Group race win.
The Macro Meats Laurels was first run in 1963 and is one of the Club’s most prestigious events. Restricted to bitches up to 30 months of age, the Laurels brings together the nation’s best young females and many on the race’s honour roll have gone on to not only have an impact on the track, but also in the breeding barn.
Following the Macro Meats Laurels presentation, Graeme Bate received the Sandown Greyhound Of The Year award for Irma Bale’s stunning 2012 performances at Sandown Park.