Greyhound racing’s National Sprint and Distance Championships continue at four venues around Australia tonight.
Tasmania, the host state this year, will conduct five heats of the National Sprint and two of the National Distance in Hobart. In the sprint, it will be the five heat winners and the three fastest seconds who move to the state final next Thursday. From there, first and second qualify for the August 25 grand final. In the distance series, the first four home in the heats tonight move to the state final next Thursday. Like the sprint series, Tasmania gets two runners in the August 25 grand final.
Sandown in Melbourne tonight is the venue for the Victorian final of the National Sprint Championship. The field is so strong that it would do justice as the grand final in Hobart. The fastest heat winner last week was the Queensland owned Don’t Knocka Him. Jason Thompson trains the dog for Reg Kay and Don’t Knocka Him ran 29.30 seconds. As is the norm with feature races in Victoria, high profile trainers Tina Womann, Andrea Dailly, Jeff Britton as well as Jason Thompson provide most of the field. Although it’s unusual that Graeme Bate didn’t get any of runners past the heats.
An excitement machine in tonight’s Sandown event is the David Hirst trained Fabregas. The son of Bombastic Shiraz and Wicked Witch has won ten of his eleven career starts and is unbeaten in seven runs at Sandown. If Fabregas wins tonight, he will become one of the youngest greyhounds to make a National Championship final, being just 21 months of age.
At Angle Park in Adelaide tonight there’s the state finals for South Australia of the sprint and distance championships. In the sprint, four heats were run last week with the consistent Koubek the quickest at 30.04.
There weren’t actually any distance heats last week, a Prelude was run and won by Adbon Bale, a son of the 2007 National Sprint champion Bit Chili, in 42.38. The same eight greyhounds which ran in the Prelude line up again tonight.
At Albion Park, box eight runners are the likely favourites for the two state finals. Tony Brett’s Glen Gallon has box eight in the Sprint final and Finns Express for Darren Titmarsh is drawn to carry the pink rug in the National Distance qualifier for Hobart.
Tony Brett isn’t greatly concerned by the wide draw for top performer Glen Gallon.
‘’There’s not a lot of speed drawn on his immediate inside so he might get a decent run across early,’’ Brett suggests.
Titmarsh isn’t as happy with the wide draw for last week’s 42.41 box two winner Finn’s Express (pictured).
‘’In the President’s Cup the week before, she got pushed extremely wide from the eight alley,’’ Titmarsh said.
‘’She’s spot on for tonight, she feels really well. About the best thing I can say about drawing box eight is that she won’t get hit by something coming across on her outside.’’
A likely scenario tonight is Befitting or Tarlie’s Angel leading and Finn’s Express trying to run them down.
Finn’s Express is trained by Titmarsh for Neil Thompson who, as an owner-trainer, won the National Sprint Championship thirty years ago with Madonna Lee at Brisbane’s former Gabba track.
The Nationals continue this Saturday night at the Meadows in Melbourne and Perth’s Cannington track. The qualifying races wrap up with the New South Wales finals this Monday night at Bulli.
The grand finals in Hobart on Saturday August 25 will be run at a twilight meeting, commencing at 5.13 p.m. and going through until 8.12.
Story by Paul Dolan, photo by Corey Pearce.