The main event of the night was Sandown Shootout, which is always an entertaining race for the greyhound purist. With four of the fastest, strongest dogs in Australia getting the track all to themselves, there are no excuses for any of the losers.
In other sports, when the true champions are challenged or have their colours lowered, they find a way back and sooner rather than later.
Well using that definition, Xylia Allen stamped her place as a true champion of our sport. After having her colours lowered in her last two Group finals, she exploded out of the boxes on this occasion, and ensured that no-one was trumping her this time around.
With a 4.97 first section, Xylia Allen led clearly out of the straight, and from there it was always going to be a big task to run her down. Banjo Boy settled in second place, but Dyna Nalin always looked like running past him, and eventually did so, taking good ground off the winner in the process. Punch One Out was always well back and couldn’t match it with the mad pace up being set up front.
Xylia Allen stopped the clock at a staggering 29.07, completing the astonishing win and reminding us all just why she is the best greyhound this country has at present.
Now trained out of the Jenny and Peter Hunt kennel since the Graeme Bate disqualification, her numbers continue to grow by the week, currently totalling 19 wins from 45 starts and $454,000 in the bank. The ability to produce her best when it matters most puts her as an excellent chance to claim the sports’ biggest prize, the Melbourne Cup, with heats kicking off next week.
Meanwhile, the second-tier feature for the night was the Group 3 Sir John Dillon Memorial, worth $25,000 to the winner over the 595 metres. Three of the runners were backing up from Saturday’s Hume Cup final, with the rest of the field comprising of track specialists looking to defend their turf.
Bookkeeper would start $1.90 favourite despite drawing wide once again, with Surf Mail and Dashing Man given the best chances to cause the upset.
As it would turn out, Dashing Man from the Brooke Ennis kennel would put in a tough performance to run down a gallant Gambo Girl by half a head. Bookkeeper kept his consistent form going by filling a minor placing for the second time in a week, finishing third.
Dashing Man brings up win number nine with his Dillon Memorial victory, taking his career earnings to $71,000 for owner Tammy Stuhmcke.
Earlier in the night, the Ready2Race final took place, carrying $20,000 to the winner. Bringing together the best eight pups purchased from the Ready2Race Auction held at the Bendigo track last November, the final comprised of the top eight point earners from specific races throughout the year.
Kiss Me Ketut was certainly expected to be in the final when purchased for a five-figure price during the sale, and come a year later would line up as an odds-on favourite. Dominating the race like a good dog should, Kiss Me Ketut made every post a winner in a time of 29.45 ahead of Archie Gumballs.
Both the winner and runner-up are owned and trained by David Burnett, with Kiss Me Ketut being by Bombastic Shiraz out of Spiral Siyan and Archie Gumballs by Where’s Pedro from Come on Roxy.
Other notable winners on the night came from the eight Melbourne Cup preludes that were scattered throughout. Those were taken out by were Dyna Beth who lead all the way, Evie’s Entity, Hawk Alone, Cornelius Fudge, Easton Bale backing up from Hume Cup, Supersonic Hawk at 30/1 , Tomac Bale who sizzled from box one and Spud Regis who closed out a tremendous night.