As we all know, and appreciate, Miata turned in a sterling effort to gather up the exciting Xylia Allen and annex her heat of Australian Super Stayers at the Meadows. While her win was not in especially fast time, it’s manner told us what we already know about her: she never gives up. I guess it’s a pretty obvious statement in some ways…you can’t win 41 races and not possess a genuine ‘heart’.
The question now becomes one of just how good is she really?
She’s drawn poorly in box eight for the final, although ‘poorly’ might be a little harsh. Boxes five or six would be worse, but the pink alley, with all the speed drawn underneath her is going to test her championship mettle.
Destini Fireball has drawn perfectly in box one, and with five starts for five wins over the 725 metres trip, including a strong victory over Miata in The Zoom Top, this brilliant dog has taken to the half-mile journey like the proverbial duck to H2O.
Proven Impala is sitting out in box seven, underneath Miata, and her early speed may well help the West Australian star get a cart across the pack and into a good position into the first turn.
Proven Impala has had just the one go at the long trip so should be even fitter and ready for the final. Nonetheless, this is looming as the kind of race where genuine stamina and long experience are going to be vital in that last gasping 100 metres. Proven Impala also prefers being drawn inside, so there’s no guarantee she’ll jump all that well from out wide.
Xylia Allen, who set a cracking pace (as expected) in the heat won by Miata, is the logical big improver. Graeme Bate is reported as having a huge opinion of this bitch. To take a brilliant sprinter and then decide it can make a great stayer and set a race like the Super Stayers as its first assignment is either the march of folly or the reasoned judgement of a man who truly knows the kind of ‘motor’ he has in his kennels.
Remember this, the greyhound who put Graeme Bate on the greyhound training map back in the late 1970s was a sensational stayer by the name of Ibrox. A front runner with a sprinter’s turn of foot, Ibrox won 19 of 25 races at distances beyond 710 metres, almost all of them by crashing to the fence at the start and setting up big leads. If Bate has seen something of Ibrox in Xylia Allen then it’s going to be an interesting few months in the long journey ranks.
Theoretically, it is Xylia Allen which could hold the key to the race. If she can take the lead early and hold out Proven Impala and Destini Fireball, then it will come down to where Miata happens to be as the field sweeps towards that final turn. If Xylia Allen finds the couple of lengths or more in improvement that she will undoubtedly require, then Miata will know she’s been in a race.
No matter the outcome, this is one race which should draw a capacity crowd to the Meadows on Saturday night and it should well and truly overshadow the Australian Cup final, which is itself worthy of a good attendance.