Fanta Bale has laid claim to being one of the sport’s greatest ever chasers by registering a breathtaking victory in the $250,000 RSN Sandown Cup at Sandown Park last night.
The big crowd trackside was buzzing as one of the best fields assembled for the great race headed to the boxes, and the race delivered everything greyhound racing fans hoped it would.
Click here for full results from last night’s meeting
Western Australian chaser Teddy Monelli led early before Dundee Osprey swept around the field to take a commanding lead. Fanta Bale was denied a gap between runners and shuffled back to midfield, while the odds on favourite Burn One Down settled in a prominent position on the rail.
Fanta Bale and Midnight Elsa made their moves down the back straight but with 150m to go, Fanta Bale still spotted the lamp lighter a four length margin. But the tenacious little chaser railed brilliantly running for home to surge past the gallant Dundee Osprey and score by half a length in 41.87.
The win came as a surprise to trainer Robert Britton who believed Fanta Bale would have to find the lead early to win the world’s richest race for stayers.
“We keep looking for reasons why she can’t win, but she keeps finding a way to prove us wrong,” said Britton following the win.
“When Midnight Elsa headed her I thought we were on for place prize money only, but that’s what she does, she’ll put her head out and keep trying.
“I’ve had a lot of real good dogs over a lot of years, but I haven’t had what I’d call out an out champion. You’ve really got to put her in that league now.”
Fanta Bale became the first greyhound to win at group 1 level over all three metropolitan distances having previously won the Australian Cup, the Rookie Rebel and Hume Cup at the Meadows. It was the fourth group 1 win of her career and the $175,000 winner’s cheque took her career prize money to $716,885, passing the great Miata into sixth place all time. Fanta Bale doesn’t turn three until August making her achievements to date all the more remarkable.
“She’s been a wonderful dog right from the start. The first time we trialled her here, straight from the pre-trainer, she ran 29.50 odd. Then two weeks later she won her maiden in 29.36. Those sorts of dogs don’t come along very often.
“She’s just a perfect dog I guess. We’d like to think she’s still got a career ahead of her, but whatever she does from here is a bonus because she’s done more than we ever expected.”
The Sandown Cup is a race that has long eluded the Lara-based mentor despite having a number of top chances in past years. To finally break through with a dog like Fanta Bale was particularly satisfying especially with so many friends and family involved.
“To have friends involved as well is a buzz. It’s been fun all the way through.”
The Sandown Cup was the headline event of the club’s first group 1 triple bill. Earlier in the night, Anthony Karabitsakos broke through for his first group 1 victory when Black Mumbo upstaged the odds-on favourite Bewlidering to win the $145,000 Harrison-Dawson.
Two races later, Maja Mahi Mahi gave 26 year old Ashlee Terry the biggest thrill in her training career when taking out the $145,000 Sapphire Crown.
Fanta Bale races away with her fourth group 1 title in the RSN Sandown Cup