Eight brilliant heats of the Group 1 TAB Melbourne Cup (515m) were held at Sandown Park on Thursday, resulting in an outstanding field for the $500,000 final next week.
The stories emanating from the heats and the composition of the final are a tell all tale of greyhound racing with young and old, big and small all represented in the world’s richest greyhound event.
The heat winners on the night were:
Heat 1: Iona Seven (Rob Britton) 29.51s
Heat 2: Peter Rocket (Keith Hellmuth) 29.42s
Heat 3: Proven Maddy (Wayne Vassallo) 29.42s
Heat 4: Black Magic Opal (Jason Thompson) 29.41s
Heat 5: Hawk Alone (Andrea Dailly) 29.49s
Heat 6: Kiss Me Ketut (David Burnett) 29.57s
Heat 7: Shifty Sticka (Paul Anderton) 29.53s
Heat 8: Dyna Beth (Andrea Dailly) 29.70s
Many of the favourites were upstaged throughout the evening but one favourite that didn’t disappoint was the series favourite Black Magic Opal who strengthened his position as the one to beat.
Black Magic Opal ran a record first split of 4.90 on his way to a best of the night 29.41s win and will go into next week’s final the likely favourite.
After the race, trainer Jason Thompson said that his charge needed the run over the 500m and should be better for it in next week’s final.
“He needed the run, he hasn’t raced over 500 since for four months,” Thompson said.
“I’m extremely happy with the way he ran; particularly his first two sections and I think he will be better next week.”
Black Magic Opal furthered his claims as TAB Melbourne Cup favourite in his heat.
Another very popular winner on the night was Peter Rocket for Keith Hellmuth. The Horsham Cup and Group 1 Megastar winner was able to position himself perfectly on the rail and drive through to make yet another big final.
After the race, a proud Keith Hellmuth said he was extremely excited about being in the final.
“We’re so happy that he’s made it to the final, he’s such an honest dog,” Hellmuth said “he continues to surprise us every time he steps out onto the track.”
Interestingly, the youngest greyhound in the Melbourne Cup heats, Shifty Sticka for Paul Anderton and the oldest greyhound in the field, Proven Maddy for Wayne Vassallo both progressed to the final.
Also on the night, four heats of the Group 1 Bold Trease were held.
The finalists (not in box draw order) are:
Sweet It Is (Leonard Jones)
Destini Fireball (Norm Rinaldi)
Lucy Wires (Robert Britton)
Hala Belle (Joe Borg)
Amity Flame (Tony Flores)
Freddy’s Smile (Michael Carter)
Cheetah Zorro (Robert Britton)
Hurricane Isaac (Tony Flores)
The box draws for the Group 1 TAB Melbourne Cup and Group 1 Solo Bold Trease will be held at 12:00pm on Friday with the full telecast of the box draw to be shown on SKY Racing 1 and simulcast on RSN – Racing & Sport.