Sandown’s biggest race over the 595m brings together an intriguing field headlined by arguably the best greyhound in the land, Fanta Bale. A win would boost her prize money beyond $844,000 but she’ll have to be at the top of her game to emerge victorious and claim her sixth group race title.
1. They know how to get them ready
Brooke and Jamie Ennis will aiming for a third McKenna Memorial with fastest qualifier Bella Shima (3) tonight, after Strong Intention won for Jamie in 2011 and Lady Toy won for Brooke in 2015. In fact, Team Ennis own an outstanding record in feature events over the Sandown 595m trip. Since the start was installed in March 2010, the club has run 29 races at Listed level or above over the trip which the Ennis have claimed on six occasions – an amazing feat for a kennel with just 15 racing greyhounds at a time
Coincidently, Bella Shima’s dam Shimaguni ran fourth to Strong Intention in the 2011 McKenna, and Shimaguni also produced Shima Song which will jump from the red in tonight’s final.
2. Second time lucky?
In 2016, Dundee Osprey ran second his McKenna Memorial heat from box 5 before running second from box 7 in the final. Last week, he again ran second in his heat of the McKenna and will again line up in box 7 in the final. Since his Sandown Park debut in November 2015, Dundee Osprey has won 11 and been placed in 11 of his 29 starts over all distances at Sandown Park. Tonight will be the reigning Sandown Greyhound Of The Year’s 9th group final at the venue (and also won the Speed Star last September), and 5th over the distance, where he won the listed Cup Night Middle Distance on Melbourne Cup night last year
3. Bring in the witches hats
The Mulgrave and Elsternwick football clubs will need to have the teams read early tonight ahead of the McKenna Memorial, where a syndicate of mates from both clubs will be cheering on their greyhound She’s Got Grace when she jumps from box 8. The second greyhound the syndicate has been involved in will start as the rank outsider in the $40,000 to the winner final
4. The Burner is back!
Worm Burner returns to Sandown Park for the first time since a stomach muscle injury forced him out of May’s Bill Collins Speed Star. The fastest dog at the track in 2017 has had two starts since his injury enforced layoff, running third in a heat of the group 1 Gold Cup at Albion Park before an unlucky fourth at The Meadows last Saturday. His five wins from eight starts at the friendly confines of Sandown Park is impressive, his 29.26 average winning time more so
5. Aiming for a first in the first
Blake Pursell is aiming for his first city win in race 1 tonight with Leo Jet. He was the fastest winner from Sunday’s heats, winning on debut in 29.96. According to FastTrack, Leo Jet is the third individual winner for dual group 1 winner Above All as a sire, with all three runners winning on debut. Neither of his two previous winners have won since
Around the Australia
On Fire is aiming for his 12th consecutive victory in race 9 at Angle Park tonight. The country’s best youngsters will line up in the heats of the group 1 Maturity at The Meadows on Saturday.
Around the world
Ring The Bell made it 6 from 6 in New Zealand on Tuesday afternoon, smashing the Forbury Park track record by more than 10 lengths on his way to a massive 24 length win. If you haven’t seen it yet, you have to check it out
The good thing: Reefton Treasure (race 5 number 3)
Each way all day: Triple Agent (race 3 number 4)
You can also follow the action from on course on Snapchat (username: Sandowndogs)