Proven Nitro ($3.40) began like a shot from box 3 and was joined through the first turn by race favourite Don’t Knocka Him ($2.20).
The Jason Thompson trained pair went stride for stride down the back straight with Don’t Knocka Him never more than a length away from his younger kennelmate. In a thrilling conclusion to one of the greatest Shootouts contested, Proven Nitro proved too strong, holding off a gallant Don’t Knocka Him by three-quarters of a length in an amazing 29.14 seconds. Odie For Now (third) and Heston Bale (fourth) were never in the hunt.
Proven Nitro’s winning time was just 0.01 seconds outside of Bekim Bale’s 2011 race record, and was the equal fourth fastest time recorded at Sandown Park. It was also quicker than what the kennel though he was capable of.
“We thought he could run in the 29.20’s, but never realised that he could get down to that sort of time,” said Seona Hood, partner of trainer Jason Thompson.
“Tonight I think he proved to a lot of people what he’s capable of. He hasn’t had a lot of racing and we’ve thrown him into the deep end a little bit by racing him against the top class dogs, but what he’s done tonight certainly shows he’s top class.”
The win continues an amazing run of success for the greyhound. Known in the kennel as ‘Edgar’, Proven Nitro won the Cranbourne Puppy Classic before running third in the Group 1 Adelaide Cup adn then going to Sydney to claim the Group 1 Vic Peters Classic. He added his second Group race title five days later with his all-the-way win in the Macro Meats Shootout.
“He’s had a huge few months this dog, racing in Adelaide and Sydney but it doesn’t seem to faze him. He’s just the perfect dog.”
Despite this the kennel was divided on which greyhound they believed was their best chance of claiming their second Macro Meats Shootout following Whisky Assassin’s victory in 2004.
“I said to Jason during the week I think Proven Nitro will go straight to the front and I don’t think they’ll pick him up. Jason felt that if Don’t Knocka Him was close he’d pick him up, but when he ran the time he ran, nothing was going to pick him up.”
Proven Nitro’s 15th career win at start number 28 netted the son of Nitro Burst the $50,000 winner-takes-all prize and took his career earnings to $186,070.
Proven Nitro’s victory was the second leg of a treble for the kennel, with Ima Geisha Girl and Got A Moment each winning a TAB Melbourne Cup Prelude and thus booking their berths in next week’s $500,000 TAB Melbourne Cup heats.
Thompson will prepare as many as six runners for next week’s heats as the Pearcedale trainer looks to add to his six Group race wins already in 2012.
Other greyhounds to win TAB Melbourne Cup Preludes were Maverick Tiger for Kel Greenough, Queensland champion Glen Gallon for Tony Brett, Terry Tibbs for Robert Tartaglia, Proven Impala for Joe Borg, and Cintarna for Sandra Collins.
Shelly Shelby ($7.20) won the night’s support feature, the Group 3 Sir John Dillon Memorial for Jamie Ennis in a remarkable wide-tracking performance. Shelly Shelby defeated Premier Boloney by 6.75 lengths in a slick 34.28 seconds.
Capping a memorable night’s racing, Premier Event announced himself as a greyhound of the future, taking out the $16,000 GRV VBIS Maiden Final in a slick 29.48.
The $500,000 Group 1 TAB Melbourne Cup, the world’s richest ever greyhound race, will be run on Thursday 22 November.