VICTORIA will go into this year’s National Distance Championship with a two-pronged attack after Burn One Down’s sensational State Final victory at The Meadows on Saturday night.
The Seona Thompson-trained, Dave Pringle-owned chaser booked his spot for Albion Park’s Grand Final with a brilliant come-from-behind victory in 42.69 – his 31st victory from 49 starts.
The gun chaser will be joined by five-time Group 1 winner Fanta Bale, who gains a start in August 25’s final as the highest-ranked AGRA greyhound.
The daughter of David Bale and Ucme Typhoon led in the early stages in Saturday’s State final before tiring into fourth position.
Trainer Rob Britton has over two weeks to get Australia’s premier female chaser in top shape when she renews rivalries with Burn One Down. Britton was as pleased as he could be after his star’s chasers fourth on Saturday.
“I’m actually happy with the way she has pulled up and I’ve got a few weeks to get her spot on for the final,” said Britton.
“We went into Saturday’s race with a few minor concerns and I think it was always going to be a tough ask for her to win the race considering her preparation. A bout of kennel cough had gone through the kennels and taking on Burn One Down at his favourite track on a wild and windy night meant that it was always going to be hard to lead all the way.
“Saturday’s run will do her the world of good and now we head to a track where she has already won at Group 1 level so I’ll expect sharp improvement from her come Grand Final night.”
A win for Victoria on August 25 would give the state its fourth consecutive National Distance Champion after previous wins from Sweet It Is, Lady Toy and Ring The Bell.
The Vics will also have two representatives going into the National Sprint Final after results over the last week confirmed that this year’s wildcard will come from the Garden State.
After Striker Light, Ando’s Mac and Pepper Fire failed to qualify for their state’s respective finals, the wildcard has fallen to Warrnambool Classic winner Bewildering, providing he steps out from box five in the Victorian State Final at Sandown Park on Thursday night.
If the son of Black Magic Opal and Outlandish happens to win the State Final, and second reserve Mepunga Blazer doesn’t gain a start, Black Mumbo would become the wildcard as the next highest AGRA ranker chaser.
With Black Mumbo and Mepunga Blazer both sitting on 70 AGRA ranking points, if Mepunga Blazer does gain a start and Bewildering wins, there will be a ballot between Black Mumbo and Mepunga Blazer as to who gains the wildcard.
Black Mumbo has drawn perfectly in one after a fourth-placed effort in the first State Sprint heat behind the ever-reliable Bruce Tycoon.
Seona Thompson has three live chances in the final with Aston Dee Bee (2), Extreme Magic (3) and Bewildering (5) representing the Pearcedale kennel on Thursday.