By George Farrugia
Thursday’s meeting at Sandown Park marks 50 days until the running of the TAB Melbourne Cup – worth $500,000 to-the-winner for the first time in the race’s illustrious history.
To recognise the occasion, a crack field has assembled for the 50 Day Countdown Special Event, worth $10,000 for the greyhound first past the post.
The race is one of many highlights on a fantastic program this Thursday afternoon, and we’ve got three races in particular you’ll need to set your alarm for.
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Race 2, Book Your Xmas Party (515m) – 3.39pm
Has there been a more noteworthy start to a race career than that of Wow She’s Fast (3), who’ll look to remain unbeaten when she lines up again for owner Greg Sprod and trainer Jackie Greenough.
The daughter of My Bro Fabio and Fair Of Face became the fastest maiden winner ever at Sandown over 515m on September 26, stopping the clock at 29.09 after a startling second split of 18.47. She backed that up with an equally impressive performance last week, running a clear Best of Night 29.39 on a surface which witnessed a barrage of rain for the meeting’s entirety and hours prior.
She’s fresh out of maiden class, but you’d expect the black flash to again dazzle greyhound fans and win. Some of her opposition also look to have bright futures, including Quebec Bale – a last start winner at Bendigo in a zippy 23.94. Quebec is by champion sire Barcia Bale and Australia’s all-time leading prizemoney earner Fanta Bale, highlighting a picture-perfect family tree. He is one of two runners in this race for trainer Correy Grenfell, who also prepares Loxton Bale – an impressive winner of two races at The Meadows to start her career.
Race 6, TAB Melbourne Cup – November 26 (515m) – 5.02pm
It’s great to see Koblenz (2) back at Sandown after his memorable battle with Aston Rupee at headquarters four starts back, which also marked his last defeat. Since their meeting, Aston Rupee has gone on to break the Sandown 515m track record and he’ll start favourite in Friday’s Group 1 Adelaide Cup. Koblenz – trained by Melbourne Cup-winning conditioner David Geall – will be out to let doubters know that forgetting him will be at their own peril.
Koblenz’s three consecutive provincial wins recently have been outstanding and again showcased his remarkable speed and acceleration. Here he takes on this year’s RSN Sandown Cup winner Zipping Rambo (7), who ran a super 24.99 at Ballarat (450m) last week to show that he’s back in very fine order since returning from a two-month layoff.
Throw in Group 1 placegetters Lakeview Cruiser (8) and Carry On Angel (4), and we’ve got ourselves a mouthwatering clash.
Race 8, 50 Day Countdown Special Event (515m) – 5.44pm
The fairytale return of McCooly’s Lad (6) enters a new chapter on Thursday, as he continues his way towards a remarkable TAB Melbourne Cup campaign.
After 267 days on the sidelines thanks to injury, the Anthony Azzopardi-trained chaser returned to win at Horsham on August 17 and he hasn’t looked back. His homecoming at Sandown on September 23 saw him record an incredible 29.11 victory, which was a new PB for a greyhound who many thought would never grace a racetrack again.
He’s every chance to continue his impeccable form here. A vacant box to his left and two slower beginners to his right only enhances his probability of victory. Amazingly, six of the seven runners are sons of current Australian Sire of the Year Fernando Bale, in yet another example of his dominance.
The ’50 Day Countdown’ winner will be exempt into TAB Melbourne Cup heats on Friday November 19. Next Thursday’s meeting will see the opening Prelude Series – greyhounds must compete in a Prelude or have won an exemption race to be eligable for Cup heats. Click here for more information