WHAT a sensational weekend of greyhounds racing for Paul Wheeler on both sides of the Tasman with the icon breeder and owner tasting deserved success in three Group 1 races.
Obviously his pair of victories at The Meadows is covered elsewhere in the issue. His third weekend of Group 1 success was achieved in stunning style at the Manukau Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
Dirk Bale rocketed away from the six trap when the field for the $88,000 Auckland Cup was released from the 527m traps.
A searing 4.59 first sectional saw the Craig Roberts trained son of Fernando Bale and Langi Bale charging into the first turn having already put a couple of lengths on his rivals.
Punching forward to track him into the back straight was Shallay Pallay from the Dave and Jean Fahey kennels, while breaking clear on the chasing pack into third was Dirk Bale’s litter and kennelmate Allen Ablett.
Dirk Bake isn’t known for his strength at the business end of his races therefore the thoughts of most when heading into the home turn was did he have a sufficient margin over the strong pair of greyhounds trying to hunt him down?
He sure did as Dirk Bale never looked like sitting down whatsoever, scampering clear to claim the Auckland Cup in a very respectable 30.06.
He held a comfortable 2.5 length margin over a bold Shallay Pallay, while there was another 1.75 lengths back to the third placed Allen Ablett.
“When the lids lifted and Dirk went clear I immediately looked to see who was closest to him,” Roberts added.
“Yes I was worried when I saw Shallay Pallay chasing behind him. Dirk was travelling real good when turning for home and I became quietly confident he had the cup won.
“I’m rapt for Paul and training another Group 1 winner for him is fantastic – it is an absolute privilege to train greyhounds for the Wheeler family.
“He has the faith to continue to send these top class greyhounds over here,” said Roberts who also had another litter brother Avenger Bale contesting the Auckland Cup (seventh).
It was also the fourth occasion that the Roberts/Wheeler combination has won the Auckland Cup.
Allen Ablett has previously won two Group 1 races and combined the smart trio of chasers has already accumulated $224,274 on this side of the Tasman.
“All three brothers will now be set for the New Zealand Derby (March 29),” confirmed Roberts.
The former Australian Group race performer Trip To Eden stylishly won his first Kiwi race when he took out the Auckland Cup consolation event for his new trainer Denis Schofield.
It was his second race over here and he showed natural improvement when dashing to his tidy 30.10 Manukau 527m Sunday win.
Schofield has confirmed that Trip To Eden is earmarked for a staying campaign with the $88,000 Duke Of Edinburgh Silver Collar over 779m (June 10) being his ultimate target.