KEL Greenough is under no illusion that his talented duo Rivergum Drive and Magic Spring will face a tough task when they line up in this Friday’s Group 2 Ballarat Cup (450 metres) against champion sprinter Fernando Bale.
A winner of 34 of his 42 starts, including 11 Group victories and over $1.2 million in prize money, the white and dark brindle speedster comes into the race on the back of a sensational 24.88 heat victory last week.
Fernando Bale will jump from box three in the feature and is currently the $1.30 favourite with Crownbet.
However, Greenough’s greyhounds also secured impressive victories in last week’s qualifiers, with Rivergum Drive ($13) the fastest of his pair in a slick 25.15.
“To be honest I had to really look at the dogs form before I took him on because his last few runs at Bulli were only very steady,” Greenough said.
“I did see a very nice run about eight or 10 starts back which was enough to tell me that the dog had ability.
“I told them to send the dog down to see how far he could go, but I never thought he would go as far as he has – to run 29.30s at Sandown and to break 30 at The Meadows when missing the start – he has a serious motor.”
Rivergum Drive has drawn favourably in box two for the $75,000-to-the-winner decider, with Greenough expecting a good performance.
“If he was quicker early I would think he could be a realistic chance of matching Fernando Bale but he can’t because of his box manners and the fact that he has to work through the field.
“Going into the race you say you can’t beat Fernando Bale – he is a freak – so I am hoping the dog can run into a placing and can run a good race without getting into trouble.
“He is not a good beginner, but when he hits the ground he has got enormous ability and he weaves his way through a field like a true professional.
“Box two will suit him, when he can find the rail he just seems to find that little bit more.”
Greenough revealed he is also targeting a trip to Tasmania with Rivergum Drive to tackle Australia’s oldest Classic.
“I have actually entered him for the heats of the Hobart Thousand and he is the only dog I am taking so I do rate the dog very highly.
“I would love to win a Group race for the two guys that own him – they are lovely blokes to train for and they get very excited.”
Also representing team Greenough is Magic Spring which made his Victorian debut in last week’s heats, recording a quick 25.36 to book his spot in the final.
The son of Spring Gun and prolific producer Fascinate Marina is $31 to score with Sportsbet after coming up with box six.
Greenough says Magic Spring will face a daunting mission from the alley, although he does expect him to improve for the final for NSW owner Noelene Holloway.
“He really hadn’t settled in properly prior to his heat – he hadn’t been here very long and coming from Noelene’s I think he was her favourite boy – so to come down to us in a short turnaround and then to see him come out and win like he did was very pleasing,” he said.
“I think the dog will go better this time because he has had another week to settle in, but to have a realistic chance I think he would have had to have drawn the red.
“Dailly’s dog in box seven (Amaro Bale) showed terrific pace in its heat last week and so did Angela Langton’s dog (Shared Equity) off the pink box, so he is going to be under a lot of pressure early and when you put box six on top of that he is going to an enormous amount of luck.”
Greenough says that Fernando Bale is unquestionably the dog to beat, with the leading mentor in awe of greyhound racing’s current superstar.
“You would have to have a weird sense of humour to think you can beat Fernando Bale,” Greenough quipped.
“I just think he (Fernando Bale) is the best. Lets face it, as an owner and a trainer you want your dog to be going as fast as he can early and then keep going – and that is exactly what he does.
“It has been great for the industry to have a dog stand up and do us proud in these bad times and I think the Daillys have been terrific ambassadors for the sport and have done a top job in being able to keep the dog going.”
The Group 2 Ballarat Cup is race eight on the card and will jump at 9:28pm AEDT.