JUST under three months ago, prolific breeder and owner Paul Wheeler shipped four young greyhounds across the Tasman.
All four are members of the August 2015 whelped Fernando Bale and Langi Bale litter.
Three of them went into the mentoring care of Canterbury-based trainer Craig Roberts. The other landed with Roberts’ son Matt on the North Island.
The trio with Roberts senior has wasted no time in establishing their credentials as very talented chasers, quickly advancing through the grades.
This Thursday evening at the Addington Raceway one of them, Avenger Bale, will start warm favourite for New Zealand’s richest greyhound race, the $100,000 Christchurch Casino New Zealand Cup.
The super-talented greyhound was sublime in the way he scampered clear for his effortless semi-final 520m win.
His Addington race record illustrates why he is the warmly supported $2 TAB final field favourite.
Eight 520m wins from as many races at the venue, with the quickest coming in a slick 29.82 confirms his extraordinary talent. Throw in his box 2 draw and at least on paper he appears to hold a vice like grip on the event.
“He has a done a fantastic job as he’s come a long way in a short time from being an immature maiden dog to a cup class greyhound in two months,” said Roberts.
“I’m really happy with his draw. He’s got them beat on the run home times – nothing in the field will finish stronger than him. He can gun them down.
“He doesn’t have to take a flyer from the traps, as long as he gets around the first turn untouched then I’ll be happy with that. He’s come though his semi as good as gold.”
Litter brother Allen Ablett struck early traffic problems in his semi, which denied him a place in the final field.
“He caused his own problem by missing away slightly in his semi and he got a bit of a touch up. He came home really good, I certainly wouldn’t underrate him if he gets a cup start,” said Roberts.
The Roberts and Wheeler combination are no strangers to tasting New Zealand Cup success. Two years back it was Dyna Vikkers who prevailed for them, which was followed two weeks later by his litter brother Dyna Double One winning the $600,000 TAB Melbourne Cup.
That’s what you call total Trans-Tasman domination of both nation’s richest greyhound races!
Okay we have established that basically the $100,000 Christchurch Casino New Zealand Cup is Avenger Bale’s title to lose.
So what about the other contenders?
Perennial NZ Cup winning trainers Dave and Jean Fahey have the firepower to possibly secure yet another Cup via their four finalists. The powerful kennel has mentored the winner of seven of the last eleven NZ Cup winners.
Cactus Jack has drawn (trap one) to at least lead into the all-important first turn.
“His draw definitely suits him. He has early pace which he must use to lead them into the first turn. From there he will maintain a solid pace,” suggested Dave Fahey.
Kennelmates He’s All Power and Shantui are professional big race chasers. The former is the current Auckland Cup title holder who won his semi in 30.45s, while the Amazing Chaser winner Shantui chased home Avenger Bale seven lengths astern.
“He’s All Power will need a bit of luck from that draw (trap five). He’s honest and he’ll will give it everything. I want to see him handy to the pace going into the first turn.
“Yes I was happy with Shantui’s race last week. He is as honest as they come – always thereabouts. He’s likely to hold a straight line into the first turn. He has a fair bit of mid race pace, which he must use,” added Fahey.
The fourth Fahey contender Opawa Timo, who won his semi in 30.28s, is likely to be racing for luck. Drawing out in trap eight certainly isn’t where this railing greyhound wants to be. “I definitely would have preferred him with an inside trap.”
Galaxy Of Stars For Group 1 Sprint
THE straight out speed merchants contest their Group 1 final in the $30,000 The Fitz Sports Bar Galaxy Sprint this Thursday.
The 295m dash for cash looks to be a race in two parts with three sprinters dominating the market. Last year’s Galaxy winner Swimming Goat is returning to defend his title, while his trainer Calum Weir has also qualified consistent sprinter Custom Paint.
Swimming Goat will jump from the ace trap after he won his semi in 17.47s. He owns a very respectable record when sighted wearing the red racing vest.
Custom Paint slipped through his heat assignment in 17.16s and drawing out in trap seven provides this bloke with strong swooping claims.
Unquestionably the sprinter of this series too date has been the low flying John McInerney prepared Wheelchair Norm. His slick 16.94s and heat and 17.10s semi wins certainly confirms that.
Wheelchair Norm is required to step away from the lousy five trap. The first couple of strides will be key for him. If he doesn’t receive an early touch up, then this sprint is his for the taking.
Others to consider as possible First4 thin end boosters includes last year’s runner up Fliberty Jiberty for Bruce Dann. Alison Lee has Talk Talk in current career best form, while the northern Hayley Mullane prepared Highland Laddie has done everything right in his pair of Addington 295m sprints.