Guns ready to fire in Shootout

By George Farrugia

The TAB Melbourne Cup Carnival takes a big leap forward tonight with the running of the four-dog Shootout!

Four of the country’s fastest greyhounds do battle for a $25,000 winner-take-all prize. The field is highlighted by Aston Rupee who is widely regarded as the fastest greyhound on the planet – he holds the top two fastest times ever set at Sandown Park and is backing up from a TAB Topgun win at The Meadows last Saturday night. The defending Shootout champion Tiggerlong Tonk has been supported with TAB.

The night also features the final Prelude Series of the world’s greatest greyhound race, the TAB Melbourne Cup. Wow She’s Fast, Aston Fastnet, Koblenz and Fernando Bluey are just some of the big names engaged.

Here’s a look at each finalist in the four-dog spectactular!

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Jason Adams and George Farrugia hone in on the Shootout

1. Lakeview Walter (Monique Whelan)

27 starts: 10 wins, 11 placings
Fastest first split at Sandown: 5.04
PB over 515 metres: 29.15

Walter is fresh off a very gutsy Group 3 Silver Bullet win at The Meadows, and even though this is at the same Group level, this race means he has to go up yet another notch. Starts are all important in a Shootout, especially when you could potentially be chasing a greyhound with the two fastest times ever at the track and another with three quarters of a million in prizemoney. From his 12 starts over the 515m at Sandown, he has managed to get to the first split in under 5.10sec on just two occasions, which is cause for concern. He’s a genuine Group-class chaser who looks up against it in this year’s version.

3. Aston Rupee (Glenn Rounds)

30 starts: 17 wins, 11 placings
Fastest first split at Sandown: 5.00
PB over 515 metres: 28.79 (track record)

Ticked off another box with victory in Saturday’s Group 1 Topgun in what is quickly growing into a career for the ages. The scary part for his rivals going forward is that he is becoming a more consistent beginner (first splits of 5.01, 5.00 and 5.02 in his last three Melbourne metro starts). Couple that with his elite run-home bursts (finished in 10.30 in his last visit to Sandown) and you get the whiff of what a perfect greyhound prototype may look like. If he steps cleanly he could lead and be impossible to run down, but Saturday proved there is more than one string to his bow, running down Tiggerlong Tonk in a sight rarely seen.

5. McCooly’s Lad (Anthony Azzopardi)

13 starts: 8 wins, 2 placings
Fastest first split at Sandown: 5.04
PB over 515 metres: 29.09

Seeing him back racing – considering the extent of his injuries this time last year – is a fairytale result and a credit to his connections. Victory in a Group 3 Shootout would be the stuff of legends. A minor setback last month means he doesn’t go in with the best preparation against the hottest greyhound in the world, but his x-factor is unquestionable. Accelerates quickly and if he jumps well he could be right up there early, but this is undoubtedly his toughest test. He’s sped through the grades with ease, but his three rivals have been accustomed to this type of pressure for months, and in Tiggerlong Tonk’s case – years.

7. Tiggerlong Tonk (Correy Grenfell)

93 starts: 42 wins, 34 placings
Fastest first split at Sandown: 5.00
PB over 515 metres: 29.03

Football coaches around the country wish they could bottle some of Tonk’s DNA and sprinkle it over the team for instant results. If I were afforded just three words to describe him, I’d go with brilliant, courageous and robust. The fact that he’s still racing at such a high level after debuting well over two years ago is testament to his underlying quality as a greyhound. His brave second-placed effort behind main rival Aston Rupee in last Saturday’s Group 1 Topgun was inspiring, running just .02 outside his PB at The Meadows. He defeated Shima Shine in last year’s version of this race in a sizzling 29.03 and he’s aiming to become the only greyhound to win the Shootout twice. Is clearly the main danger to Aston Rupee, but getting across and finding the front will be a tough ask.

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