Saturday 8th March sees the running of Australia’s richest straight race, The 2008 Healesville Cup. Sponsored again this year by Lion Quality Products, the club has been able to offer a sensational purse of $12,500 plus rug and trophy for the final victor, $3570 for the runner up and $1785 for the 3rd place finalist.
Eight heats will be run on Saturday 8th over the rising 340 metre run with the winners backing up on the Labour Day public holiday on Monday 10th March 2008 to run for the big dollars.
The heats have drawn together some quality greyhounds although most will find themselves hugely disadvantaged having not run there previously as Healesville has the shortest lure run up of any track in Australia and “first timers” can frequently get left behind at box rise.
With eight heats drawn, the winners will survive to face off in the Monday final and Taipan Bale looks to have a lock on the first heat having drawn very well in box 1. A repeat of his Dec 2007 run at Warrnambool when he went within inches of the track record, running 18.92 for the 332 metres, would see him home safely.
Heat 2 sees Glen Rounds trained Top Fuel siting pretty in box 2 and with a record of 9 wins from only 16 starts, this son of Brooklyn Haze should be too good for the rest of the field. Glen is reknowned for meticulously preparing his dogs and Top Fuel is sure to have had the benefit of more than a few looks at the Healesville 340 metres.
Zoolander should provide the testing material in heat 3 of the cup with his sensational box speed. This 33kg speedster has only been led once in his last 7 starts and I can’t see anything changing that here.
Heat 4 of the cup should be a cake walk for Redgum Assassin on best form, unfortunately the Graham Bates trained dog is far from in form although he will have the benefit of two recent runs on the track. Those runs saw him score one win in 18.64 but the box 5 draw does raise some concerns though.
Then ninth race of the day is Heat 5 and sees the superstar sprinter Bounding Billy sitting out in box 6. The highly talented Maureen Turner trained brindle dog could easily have been in New South Wales this weekend contesting the Group 1 Golden Easter Egg. Had he gone, he would have been one of the favourites to win the final after running in the Group 1 Australian Cup final at his last start. If he has any weakness it can be that he does take a stride or two to get going but with 5 wins from 8 starts on the track and 3 seconds, he should get home on class alone.
Heat 6 of the cup looks like one way traffic from out in the pink rug for the Scott Stefanos trained Cool Temptation. Scott has the dog going extremely well and he has tremendous box pace that should see him easily lead early. The eight box draw means that only he can cause himself problems. If he stays out on the track, he wins.
Warrnambool legend, Norm McCullagh, makes the long haul from Victoria’s South West to start Elite Saint from box 4. The current Warrnambool 332 metre track record holder does step slightly right out of the boxes, but with a slow beginner drawn in the five, he should have enough room to lead this field early and prove too good.
The final heat will prove to be an interesting affair as the John Galea trained Count Lani, who hit a purple patch of 5 wins on the trot before a poor 6th last start at his only run at Healesville; will have his work cut out for him by none other than a recent John Galea cast-off, Sherlock Bob. Now in the good hands of Norm McCullagh, this dog is a last start winner and is well placed to pressure Count Lani for the trip. The interesting runner here is the Alec Reid runner, Super Joe Cool; who will start from the seven box. This dog has only had 4 career starts with 2 moderate wins at best at Geelong; but Alec is one of the most astute trainers in the business and if the two inside runners bring each other undone, this dog could be the upset runner.