There were a number surprises from the heats of the RSN Sandown Cup.
The favourite for each heat not only got beaten, but none progressed to Thursday’s final as a number of other fancied runners also fell by the wayside.
Perhaps the best word to describe the 2020 edition of the country’s premier race for stayers is ‘intriguing’. A number of proven group level performers mixed with emerging stars. Trainers accustomed to big group race finals and trainers experiencing their biggest moment yet. A box draw that’s thrown the race wide open.
Intriguing is a good fit for the race, but what about each runner? Here’s a summary of each RSN Sandown Cup finalist, in one word.
Box 1 – Rockstar Beav
Trainer: Andrea Dailly
Record over the trip: 8 starts 3-1-0
Qualified: Won heat in 41.693
In one word: Ready
It’s hard find a fault in the form of the fastest qualifier. He’s missed a place just twice in 15 starts since January 25 (ran fourth both times), winning nine times. His record over the trip is even better than it looks – he was unplaced in his first three runs over the trip meaning he’s got a 3-1-0 in his last five starts over the distance. Box 1 helps and he should be fast enough to hold his position through the first turn and give Andrea Dailly every chance of winning her first RSN Sandown Cup.
Box 2 – Blazing Cartier
Trainer: Robert Britton
Record over the trip: 11 starts 5-4-1
Qualified: Won heat in 41.927
In one word: Bankable
In 30 career starts over 700m or more, Blazing Cartier has been placed 23 times. Surprised many by jumping to the front in her heat but she has done it before and in fact, clocked a faster first split in a heat of the Bold Trease last November. Robert Britton knows a thing or two about getting a stayer right for a group 1 at Sandown – of the last seven group 1 staying events at Sandown Park he’s trained the winner of six of them (with Fanta Bale, Barcali and Tornado Tears) and Blazing Cartier might be the strongest and most natural stayer of all of them.
Box 3 – Zipping Clifford
Trainer: Jeff Geall
Record over the trip: 5 starts 2-1-1
Qualified: Ran second to Bronski Beat in 42.746
In one word: Fairytale
Jeff Geall has only been a greyhound trainer for a little over 12 months and has just two greyhounds in work. He was over the moon with Zipping Clifford’s win the week before the heats and was left speechless after he hung on for second in last week’s heats to qualify for his group 1 final. Regardless of how Zipping Clifford goes on Thursday night, you’ll struggle to find a happier and more proud trainer that Jeff.
Box 4 – He Shall Power
Trainer: Shona Crawford
Record over the trip: 1 start 0-1-0
Qualified: Ran second to Rockstar Beav in 41.790
In one word: Upside
The baby of the field at 25 months of age and just 17 career starts, He Shall Power ran the second fastest time of all qualifiers. Bred, owned and trained by husband and wife team Shona and David Crawford, a win on Thursday night would be their first group 1 win after a lifetime in the sport and would be an extremely popular one at that.
Box 5 – Ella Enchanted
Trainer: James Ennis
Record over the trip: 7 starts 2-3-1
Qualified: Ran second to True Detective in 42.208
In one word: Overdue
There’s no questioning Ella Enchanted’s ability, her record says as much. But injury and bad luck has meant we haven’t seen the best of her. She’s yet to win at group level but has been runner up on four occasions including the 2019 Sandown Cup in which she found trouble at both the first and second turns and was arguably the run of the race when beaten just ¾ of length by Rajasthan. She was well supported heading into the heats and the kennel is keen on her chances following the box draw.
Box 6 – Just Terms
Trainer: Anthony Azzopardi
Record over the trip: 5 starts 0-3-1
Qualified: Ran second to Blazing Cartier in 42.352
In one word: Proven
Just Terms is a proven top grade stayer. She’s been placed in each of her four group 1 finals – including a win in February’s Zoom Top – and found the line well in her heat, her first start five weeks, so expect her to strip fitter on Thursday night. Trainer Anthony Azzopardi has had a runner in each of the last five group 1 finals run at Sandown Park.
Box 7 – True Detective
Trainer: Jeff Britton
Record over the trip: 8 starts 4-0-0
Qualified: Won his heat in 41.881
In one word: Versatile
In winning his heat, True Detective became the 13th greyhound record a win in under 42 seconds for the 715m, 34 seconds for the 595m, and 30 seconds for the 515m. A group 1 winner over 600m and a group 1 runner up over 725m, a win the country’s premier staying event would be Jeff Britton’s first and would join his brother Robert, sister Linda and father Alan as winners of the race.
Box 8 – Bronski Beat
Trainer: Brendan Pursell
Record over the trip: 10 starts 4-0-1
Qualified: Won heat in 42.066
In one word: Unexpected
Or should that be expect it? Bronski Beat paid $16.20 when winning his heat last Thursday night. It was Brendan Pursell’s seventh winner at Sandown Park in May and actually lowered the average price of those winners to $17.25. He’s built a solid record over the trip mostly racing against the same calibre of greyhound he’ll meet on Thursday night, could get a nice cart across from True Detective and provide another good paying winner for followers of the kennel.
The 2020 RSN Sandown Cup will be run at 7.42pm on Thursday 22 May.