The Graeme Bate trained speedster enters the unique $40,000 winner-takes-all feature on the back the finest win of his career when he defeated the best greyhounds in the country in the Group 1 Sky Racing Top Gun, also from box seven.
In just 20 career starts, Allen Harper has already claimed two Group 1 titles and boasts over $200,000 in prizemoney. Despite never having raced at the Lightwood Road circuit, Allen Harper boasts impressive credentials for the Shootout, having recorded slick times at Wentworth Park (29.58), Angle Park (29.47) and the Meadows (29.82).
“He’s drawn well out there,” said kennel representative Joe Briffa.
“There’s not much speed underneath him and the way he led the other night (in the Top Gun at the Meadows) he’s going to be very hard to beat.”
Bate’s second Macro Meats Shootout finalist, Top Gun runner up Radley Bale, drew the cherished box 1 however Briffa believed that Allen Harper was the kennel’s best chance.
“Radley’s definitely quicker out of the boxes, but Allen Harper is very strong. I definitely think he’s the better chance of the two. He’s a young dog on the up.”
George Dailly, handler of Sandown track record holder Bekim Bale, was confident but wary of his rivals after the son of Batrim Bale drew box 5.
“They’re all very good dogs, so whoever gets the right run will win the race,” said Dailly.
Bekim Bale is the only greyhound to break the 29-second barrier at Sandown Park, running a stunning 28.96 seconds at just his third race start. He claimed his fifth win in just seven career starts on Saturday night, overcoming a moderate start to win by 13.5 lengths in 29.69 seconds – just over two lengths faster than the time Allen Harper ran to win the Top Gun.
“He’s a beautiful young dog that tries his heart out, so if he gets a clear run next Thursday night he’ll be fine. He’s trialled since (his win at the Meadows) and went really well, so he’s ready to go now.”
Jamie Ennis trains the only finalist not owned by Paul Wheeler, and will be hoping his exciting youngster and former Sandown track record holder Cape Hawke can deny leviathan owner a maiden Shootout win after drawing ideally in box 3.
“I think Radley Bale will lead out of the boxes, so hopefully he can take the sit on Radley Bale through the first turn,” said Ennis.
“He’s race fit so he won’t be doing much before the Shootout. We’ll be keeping him fresh so he’ll be at his best next Thursday night.”
Macro Meats Shootout night on Thursday 3 November is one of the most exciting nights of racing on the Australian greyhound calendar. As well as Australia’s four fastest greyhounds vying for a $40,000 prize, the final Solo Melbourne Cup Prelude series will also be run. This is the final chance for greyhounds to qualify for the Group 1 Solo Melbourne Cup heats on Thursday 10 November, with the $200,000 to-the-winner final to be run the following Thursday.
Shootout night is also family night at Sandown Park, with a host of free kids activities track side including ‘Greyhound Owner of the Day,’ a first for greyhound racing whereby kids will have the opportunity to walk on the track with the greyhounds and have a photo taken with ‘their’ greyhound. Other activities include face painters, an animal farm and a host of prizes and giveaways.
Entry to all meetings at Sandown Park is free. Gates open at 6.00pm with the first race at 7.00pm. For further details or contact the Club on (03) 9546 9511.