Approximately 29 seconds will stand between eight of the country's best greyhounds and immortality when the lids fly open in the Group One Melbourne Cup tomorrow night at Sandown.
Only the best have won the Melbourne Cup, the races' honour roll contains more stars than you will see littered through the night sky, and in 2014 another set of powerful paws will carve their name alongside the greats.
Keybow is currently the $3.30 favourite with Sportingbet to take out the race that paw-ses a nation. The son of Take The Kitty and Key Exit will jump from box one, a box he has only started from twice throughout his 35 start career, resulting in one win and one second.
Keybow's sire finished fifth in the Melbourne Cup in 2009 and, incidentally, both father and son will start from the same draw. Box one has not won the Melbourne Cup since Closing Argument stormed to victory in 2005 however, prior to that year, it had saluted in the previous three runnings.
One of those was in 2004 when the race was taken out by Hallucinate for Darren McDonald, who will put the polish on Keybow in Friday's $420,000 to the winner feature. McDonald, who also trains Awesome Project in the final, will become the first conditioner to have trained four winners of the Melbourne Cup should either of his charges salute.
Awesome Project is currently rated a $9 shot with Sportingbet and has a tough task ahead of him from box four. The striking black chaser has been ultra consistent throughout his career and relishes the track at Sandown where he is yet to be unplaced from 13 appearances. He also boasts five wins from his draw and if, he can salute, he will join former greats such as Betty's Angel and Go Wild Teddy to have won the Cup wearing blue in recent years.
Interestingly, the last two Melbourne Cups have been won in a time of 29.37 by greyhounds starting from box two. If this trend continues, your winner will be the Doreen Drynan- trained Chica Destacada which is $4.80 with Sportingbet to taste success. Boasting blistering early sectionals and a 29.22 PB at the track, this bitch means business.
Kiwi chaser Above All is right in contention, rated a $5.50 pick with Sportingbet. Trained by Rob Britton, the classy black greyhound is by Magic Sprite, the same sire as last year's winner Black Magic Opal. A winner of his last three in a row, he is one from one wearing the white where he will jump from in the final, but box three has not won a Melbourne Cup in 19 years since City Blitz triumphed in 1995.
Rob's brother Jeff will have two starters in the Cup but they are both drawn awfully in the five and six. Cosmic Wise (5) and Star Recall (6), which are both owned in WA, will both need luck and are rated $20 and $9 with Sportingbet to win the race respectively.
It takes a brilliant dog to win from either box. The last winner of the Melbourne Cup from box five was Classic Capri in 2001, while the most recent to triumph from the six was Shanlyn Prince in 2007.
Luca Neveelk, currently a $16 chance with Sportingbet, should be the early leader and will be hoping for scrimmage on the first turn so he can dart clear down the back. His sire, Talk's Cheap, is a half brother to Betty's Angel which took out the Cup in 2006. He also comes into the race as the winner of the 2014 Geelong Cup with last year's winner, Black Magic Opal, seizing the same double that Luca Neveelk will be aiming to complete tomorrow night.
Last, but certainly not least, is Dyna Villa which is rated a $6 chance with Sportingbet. He is by Collision, who has sired two of the last three winners of the Melbourne Cup, and he will be aiming to score success from box eight where he is unbeaten. If he is to win, he will be the first to triumph from the pink since Surgeon in 2008. If he does, lets hope he has better manners in the home straight.
Australian Racing Greyhound will have a full preview of the Melbourne Cup tomorrow morning.