The girls get their chance to shine as the Group 2 Sandown Laurels series kicks off on Sunday. The $50,000 to-the-winner race is open to the best 64 female greyhounds nominated that are whelped on or after 1 June 2012.
The heats take place at Sandown Park on Sunday, followed by semi-finals the following week with the final taking place on 21 December 2014.
The heats contain greyhounds of varied experience and class with a number of noted Group performers scattered throughout.
Here’s a look at the chances in each heat;
Heat One – Race 1 at 2:04pm
The stand-out is Oakvale Destiny (1). She is already a multiple Group race winner and took out the bitches-only Group 1 Sapphire Crown earlier this year, so she is well and truly proven in this class. She will be a short-priced favourite.
Only two other runners in the field have won at Sandown. Come On Fantasy (2) stopped the clock at 29.62 three runs back to score her first win at the track from four attempts. Career wise she has won just three from 18. Image Puzzle (4) is a lightly raced bitch whose only career win came at Sandown in 29.88. She has led most of her races and will need to lead by a very long way to be any hope of defeating Oakvale Destiny.
Of the other runners, Miss Shirleen has been in the placings plenty of times but has been racing over longer distances. She is also yet to win from box eight.
Heat Two – at 2:40pm
The Foot Luce sisters appear to have the second race between them. Footluce Diva (3) and Oakvale Flyer (4) are litter-mates to Oakvale Destiny, who is in the first heat. Oakvale Flyer (4), unlike most of the others in the litter, possesses a bit of early toe. If she shows that she will be hard to beat. She was a runner-up behind her sister in the Sapphire Crown and has won five at Sandown with a best of 29.43. Footluce Diva has raced around the track in 29.35 and has won three from seven at Sandown. She loves the rail so the draw looks good. She just has to avoid trouble early on.
Fratelli Fresh (6) has won two from three at the track and eight from 18 overall in her career. Her best at Sandown is 29.75 but she is yet to score from box six. She is very strong and more than capable on her day.
Hashtag Selfie (8) has not long started her career, with just the seven starts under her belt. She has won two and placed on three other occasions. She won her maiden at Sandown in 29.98 from box five. The draw for this heat is the widest she has drawn in her career and she will need to lead early to be in the race at the end.
Heat Three – Race 5 at 3:16pm
Mepunga Hayley (1) is a Group race winner but she hasn’t won a race since August. The box draw is great for her as she has won three from four wearing the red stretch vest. Her best at Sandown is a fast 29.29.
Pud (8) is the veteran of just eight starts and has been impressive in her last two runs, running best on day at Cranbourne and Sandown. The Mogambo and Mum’s Heart (Elgrando – Zulu Zepha) bitch led all the way in 29.44 last week and clocked a handy 5.02 early. This will be a test for her to see if she can rise in class.
Diva’s Shadow (7) and Hestia Bale (8) have both recorded three wins from five starts at Sandown. Diva’s Shadow has been the quickest of the two with a best of 29.45. Her last two starts have been nothing flash and has won just one from three out of box seven. Hestia Bale has won one from three out of box eight and lacks the pace to cross the field.
Satsuki Bale (3) can show early speed and has won six from 19 overall. She has not really taken a liking to Sandown yet, failing to win after three attempts at the track.
Heat Four – Race 7 at 3:59pm
The talented Secret Spell (5) will be looking to bounce back after running last in the Group 2 Ballarat Cup final behind Luca Neveelk. The Batrim Bale and Wicked Witch (Larkhill Jo – Witch Magic) bitch has won eight from 11 including one at Sandown in 29.26. A lot depends on how she steps but there does not appear to be much pace drawn around her.
Jamiela Twist (1) hasn’t put a foot wrong at Sandown, placing on each occasion she has raced at the track. Her best winning time is 29.39 and she looks well drawn on the rails.
Farmor Eye Am (2) has started just twice for a win and a second. It is a big jump from just breaking your maiden to starting in a Group 2 event but she is in the astute hands of Robert Britton so needs to be respected. She cracked her maiden at Sandown last week in 30.01 and is the improver in the field.
Mepunga Diva (7) has won twice at Sandown, with her best time of 29.58 coming from box five. She is a risky beginner but when she gets it right can sizzle early as shown by her best first split of 4.96. If she can begin well she will be up in the firing line.
Heat Five – Race 9 at 4:40pm
Handy NSW bitch Lady Ronray (2) gets her chance to show what she is capable of in the fifth heat. She trialled in 29.68 and that should be good enough to take this out. The Cosmic Rumble and Ronray Disco (Bombastic Shiraz – Ronray Lass) bitch has won 13 races from 16 starts and possesses plenty of pace so she should be able to get to the lead where she does her best work.
Julie Bale (5) has been racing over the staying trip with success and has been doing plenty of racing of late. She has not won over the 515m at Sandown but she has won three from box five.
Breshia Bale (7) steps up for her first 500 and is coming off a best-of-day performance over the 480m at Horsham. She can handle a wide draw and is a value each-way chance.
Heat Six – Race 10 at 4:56pm
Weblec Belle (3) is fresh off a win in the Group 3 Brian Johnstone at Angle Park, defeating Oakvale Destiny in impressive fashion. She has won four from seven at Sandown. She is racing very well at the moment so she is a big hope.
NSW bitch Jewel Action (6) has been improving at Sandown. She finished second behind Jordan Allen last week to improve on the last place she got at her first start at Sandown. She runs fast sections early at Wentworth Park and she will need to do that here to overcome the draw.
Rocka Hula Baby (8) has won her last two races including a 29.54 win last start at Sandown. The Premier Fantasy and Brislane (Brett Lee – Thai Again) bitch is in good hands with trainer Kelly Bravo but is yet to prove herself from a wide draw.
Heat Seven – Race 11 at 5:11pm
West On Delly (7) has won her last three on the trot around The Meadows and Sandown. The Brett Lee and West On Bluebird bitch started her short career off in WA in qualifying trials. She has had six starts in Victoria for three wins and two placings. Her best at Sandown is 29.67.
Lamia Bale (1) won well over 595m at Sandown on Thursday night in a heat of the Sir John Dillon Memorial and has won over this trip in 29.47. The only problem with the box one draw is that she likes to get off the track. She is better from a wider box. She has recorded a best of 29.48 at Sandown.
Jayney Bale (2) has won four of her last eight. Two of these have been at Sandown. The Jarvis Bale and Kumar Bale (Kiowa Sweet Trey – Winfrey Bale) bitch has won six from 15 in her career and has a good record from box two.
Heat Eight – Race 12 at 5:26pm
Dyna Nico (2) loves to be drawn near the rail and she is a great beginner. She has just the two wins at Sandown from eight attempts with a best of 29.62 but the draw brings her into the race.
Kerrigan Bale (5) has three wins at Sandown but likes to be drawn closer to the rail. She has been racing some class dogs like Kiss Me Ketut and Chica Destacada in recent times so she will appreciate racing against some of the more inexperienced chasers in this field.
American import Se’s High Above (6) won her maiden at Sandown in 29.59. She has not won at Sandown since but she is a very strong chaser. She lacks pace early which can be a problem from the draw.