Sandown Shootout 2011 Blitzed By Bekim Bale

Bekim Bale stamped himself as the most exciting greyhound of his generation with his scintillating win the Group 3 Macro Meats Shootout at Sandown Park last night.

Suited perfectly to the four-dog format, Bekim Bale began on even terms with Cape Hawke before settling a length off the lead through the first turn. Down the back straight the pair had opened a two length gap on the Graeme Bate trained duo Radley Bale and Allen Harper before Bekim Bale made his move, powering past Cape Hawke and racing to a 5.75 length victory in a race record 29.13 seconds.

Radley Bale claimed second place ahead of the tiring Cape Hawke – the third time in as many starts Radley Bale has finished second at Group level – with Allen Harper unable to recover from a poor start to finish a further half a length away fourth.

“He got a good clear run early and once he positioned up to the outside of Cape Hawk he was in with a really good chance,” said kennel representative George Dailly.

“Half way down the back he was right there with them. His last sectional time is just phenomenal and there probably isn’t a greyhound in the country that can go with him – other than his brother Heston Bale. He’s just a very good greyhound.”

The youngest and least experienced greyhound in the race, Bekim Bale improved his record to six wins from eight starts (with two second placings). The $40,000 winner-takes-all prize took his career earnings to $59,640, and he will now target the $200,000 to the winner Group 1 Solo Melbourne Cup series.

And in an ominous warning to his rivals, owner Paul Wheeler believes we are yet to see the best of his new star.

“It was unbelievable,” said Wheeler.

“With most greyhounds – and especially with our breed – you don’t see the best of them until they turn two and half or three. He’s just turned two years old, so given another six months I would say there is a very, very big prospect that he could improve on that again.”

The Macro Meats Shootout victory was the first for both Dailly and Wheeler, and capped a memorable night for the pair as they combined to win three of the night’s Solo Melbourne Cup Preludes. Wheeler claimed a fourth Prelude win when Allen Elroy saluted for Graeme Bate.

Each runner in last night’s Macro Meats Shootout, as well as the winner of each Solo Melbourne Cup Prelude, have each earned a berth in the Solo Melbourne Cup heats to be run on Thursday 10 November. The final, worth $200,000 to the winner, will be run on Thursday 17 November.

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