The latest chapter in one of the most storied races on the Australian feature calendar will be written at Sandown Park tonight when eight of the country’s top stayers will contest the final of the RSN Sandown Cup.
The final is shaping as one of the most even in the race’s history. There were a number of upsets in last week’s heats with the favourite in each not only being beaten, but failing to qualify for tonight’s final. A mix of established veterans and rising prospects ensures not only an intriguing final, but a true challenge for punters to find the winner.
So who wins the country’s premier race for stayers? Here’s a case for – and against – each runner.
1. ROCKSTAR BEAV (Andrea Dailly)
Record over the trip: 8 starts 3-1-0
Qualified: Won heat in 41.693
The case for: There’s a lot of reason Rockstar Beav can win. He’s the fastest heat winner, he’s drawn well, he’s got an excellent record both at the track and over the distance, he’s in great form having been placed 14 of his last 16 starts. The punters have got on board too.
The case against: No greyhound has won a Sandown Cup from box 1 since 2000. That, of course, has no bearing on Rockstar Beav’s chances. It’s really hard to find a reason why Rockstar can’t give Andrea Dailly her first Sandown Cup.
2. BLAZING CARTIER (Robert Britton)
Record over the trip: 11 starts 5-4-1
Qualified: Won heat in 41.927
The case for: Has an outstanding record over the distance having been placed in 23 of 30 starts over the staying trip, but it’s at Sandown Park where she performs her best. Showed in her heat that she can step fast enough to take a forward position in this company and if she does her best section is her last meaning she’ll be hard to beat. Her trainer knows a thing or two about getting a stayer ready for a group 1 too.
The case against: She can be inconsistent at box rise and can lack early speed. If she can’t hold her spot she could be shuffled too far back
3. ZIPPING CLIFFORD (Jeff Geall)
Record over the trip: 5 starts 2-1-1
Qualified: Second to Bronski Beat in 42.066
The case for: He’s honest and is in good form having been placed in each of his last 5 starts. This is a race that can throw up a roughie at times – remember Bells Are Ringin at 50/1 in 2016?
The case against: Class. He’s never gone faster than 42.23 over the distance which won’t be fast enough to win this race
4. HE SHALL POWER (David Crawford)
Record over the trip: 1 start 0-1-0
Qualified: Second to Rockstar Beav in 42.790
The case for: The youngest and most inexperienced runner in the field and therefore the runner with the most upside. Was brave on his 715m debut last week leading for most of the trip and ran the second fastest time of the night
The case against: Inexperience. He’s only had one start in top grade company – last week’s heats – and with just one start over the distance under his belt may not have the fitness edge of his more experienced rivals.
5. ELLA ENCHANTED (Jamie Ennis)
Record over the trip: 7 starts 2-3-1
Qualified: Second to True Detective in 42.208
The case for: She’s a six time group finalist and should have won this race last year
The case against: She been runner up four times at group level and is now over 4 years old
6. JUST TERMS (Anthony Azzopardi)
Record over the trip: 5 starts 0-3-1
Qualified: Second to Blazing Cartier in 42.352
The case for: A high class stayer placed in all four group 1 finals she’s contested including a win in the Zoom Top. Is second up after a spell so expect improvement from her heat run
The case against: Winless at Sandown Park and tends to drop out early so will always need some luck
7. TRUE DETECTIVE (Jeff Britton)
Record over the trip: 8 starts 4-0-0
Qualified: Won heat in 41.881
The case for: Has good early speed to cross the field, has won half of his starts over the distance, drawn well
The case against: May not have enough early speed to cross the field, has missed a place in half his starts over the distance, drawn poorly. A polarising runner!
8. BRONSKI BEAT (Brendan Pursell)
Record over the trip: 10 starts 4-0-1
Qualified: Won heat in 42.066
The case for: Should get plenty of space early and has broken 42 seconds
The case against: Needs to lead to win but may not have the speed to cross
The winner of this edition of the RSN Sandown Cup will be a worthy addition to an honour roll that boasts some of the greatest stayers ever to grace the track.
For mine, Rockstar Beav is a deserved favourite but can’t afford to make any mistakes. I expect Blazing Cartier to take a forward position and if she can will be very hard to beat and looks better value. Ella Enchanted and Just Terms will be finishing strong.
Here’s a little more about each RSN Sandown Cup finalist in a one word summary of their chances.
There’s a $100,000 projected TAB quaddie pool on tonight meeting, kicking off on race 5. TAB has run this promotion throughout Sandown’s May meetings with the pool going much, much bigger each week making the quaddie better value than ever.
Quaddie: 3678 / 1258 / 567 / 345
In treat for greyhound fans everywhere, the Gr8 Eight event (race 4) features three of the country’s hottest sprinters – Simon Told Helen, Jax Bale and Tiggerlong Tonk – which filled the placings in last week’s group 1 Harrison-Dawson.
Unfortunately we’re still not able to have patrons on course for the fun of one of the sport’s biggest nights, so we’re bringing the fun to you!
Tune into our Facebook, YouTube or website from 7pm for the premier of ‘Box 9 LIVE’, a fun panel show featuring RSN’s Gareth Hall and guests including Dale Thomas, Heath Shaw, Trevor Marmalade, John Sadler and more!
Register at www.box9.com.au for your chance to win cash and prizes for you and your sporting club!
First race is set to jump at 5.57pm.
Click here for your free Watchdog formguide, latest odds from tab.com.au, and live vision of all of Victoria greyhound racing.
RSN Sandown Cup runners – in one word
Ella Enchanted seeking redemption in the Cup
Crawford enters RSN Sandown Cup with Power
Britton confident of continuing distance domination
Behind The Boxes podcast: RSN Sandown Cup edition
Group 1 season to finish on Just Terms