Four of the fastest chasers in the country are set for battle tonight in the $25,000 winner-takes-all Shootout.
It’s a race like no other on the calendar. Now in it’s 21st year, the race continues to provide one of the great talking points in Australian greyhound racing and this year’s edition promises to be one of the most exciting yet.
Here’s 10 things you may not have known about the race dubbed the ‘Speed Championship of Australia.’
1. It hasn’t always been like this
The original Shootout had a $5000 entry fee meaning connections literally had to put their money where there mouth was if they wanted to prove they truly had the fastest dog in the country. The entry fee was removed in 2009 which somewhat changed the nature of the race though one thing remains unchanged – you need a fast dog to win the Shootout
2. The prize money
With the changing conditions, the prize money has also changed over the years. In the first year, $40,000 was up for grabs, but in the years since the race has carried a $20,000, $25,000, $30,000, $40,000, $50,000 and $70,000 first prize, and in 2007, even carried $5000 for second place
3. For the record
The track record has fallen on just one occasion in the Shootout – Bond in 2005. He stopped the clock in 29.38 on the old surface, taking 0.2 seconds off Whisky Assiassin’s previous mark
4. Times and margins
Not only did Bond break Whisky Assassin’s track record, he broke Whisky Assassin’s record for the largest winning margin, Whisky Assassin winning the 2004 Shootout by 6.25 lengths, Bond the 2005 Shootout by 7. Bekim Bale holds the post-entry fee record of 5.75 lengths. All three have held the Sandown 515m track record. The closest finish came on New Year’s Day this year when Aston Dee Bee held off Quick Jagger by a nose.
5. Just how fast do you need to be?
Since racing began on the new track surface in 2010, the average winning time in the Shootout is 29.202. Orson Allen is the only runner this year that has eclipsed this mark (29.183). Xylia Allen (2013) holds the race record of 29.069.
6. Who leads wins
Mantra Lad won the Shootout in 2009 – the first Shootout run without an entry fee – and remains the only winner in that time to come from last and win. In fact, in the nine editions of Shootout run since, five winners led through the first mark, while the remaining four have been second
7. Boy’s club
Interestingly, Xylia Allen (pictured above) is the only female to win the Shootout. She’s Gifted is the only female in tonight’s final
8. Breeders like the race
Unsurprisingly, some of the sport’s most prominent stud dogs have won the race. Go Wild Teddy, Bombastic Shiraz, Whisky Assassin, and more recently, Cosmic Chief, Bekim Bale and Aston Dee Bee all boast the Shootout on their stud credentials
9. Punter’s friend
The punters seem to be getting a better read of the Shootout fields. While half of all Shootouts have been won by the tote favourite, six out of the 10 in the post-entry fee era including the last three have been won by the punter’s elect. This should be reassuring for the punters that are on Aston Kimetto, who was as much as $14 in early markets to win the Shootout but has been confidently backed into favouritism despite having never won a race at the track
10. Melbourne Cup guide?
No. Despite the fastest greyhounds in the land contesting the Shootout, Bombastic Shiraz is the only greyhound to complete the Shootout-Melbourne Cup double. Aston Dee Bee also won both races, but had won the Melbourne Cup prior to his Shootout success
Aston Kimetto has been extremely well supported in tonight’s Shootout. The Geelong Cup winner was as much as $14 in early markets (with a number of bets at big prices including $600 @ $14 and $200 @ $11), while there has also been support for Queenslander Maurice Minor including one bet of $200 @ $16 in the pre-nomination market.
The Shootout is the highlight of a big night of chasing at Sandown Park, which also features the final TAB Melbourne Cup Prelude series – the final chance for greyhounds to qualify for the TAB Melbourne Cup heats on Friday 16 November.
The Shootout, race 6, will be run at 8.55pm.