Koblenz Chasing Slice Of History In TAB Phoenix

Melbourne Cup hero Koblenz will become the greatest stakes winner in the history of greyhound racing if successful in Saturday night’s The Phoenix.

Adam Dobbin

16 December 2021

Waiting at the finish line of Saturday night’s inaugural The TAB Phoenix is a slice of history regardless of which greyhound salutes in the $1.145m showpiece.

But for the David Geall-trained Koblenz the race takes on even greater significance with victory to earn the son of Fernando Bale the mantle as the sport’s greatest ever stakes earner.

Currently boasting prizemoney of $711,235, half-a-million of which banked following his last start Melbourne Cup heroics, Koblenz can soar past Fanta Bale’s record mark of $1.36m if successful in Saturday night’s $750,000-to-the-winner feature.

“It’s something I haven’t really got my head around yet,” trainer David Geall said.

Troy Little and David Geall at Sunday’s box draw

“The prize money in greyhound racing is absolutely amazing which provides these opportunities we are all extremely grateful for. But you need to have a special animal and Koblenz is certainly that.

“He’s taking us on a fantastic ride and we are looking forward to Saturday night. The Phoenix has proven to be a great concept.”

Winner at 26 of his 39 race starts, Koblenz, a son of champions Fernando Bale and Up Hill Jill, will exit box eight when representing the Sports Entertainment Network at The Meadows this Saturday night.

Geall is lamenting the extreme draw but refuses to give up hope of his superstar sprinter rewriting history.

“It’s not a good draw for him, there’s no getting away from that,” Geall said.

“At some stage of the race I expect him to be in front but how hard he has to work to get there is the big question.

“When it was our choice of boxes six, seven and eight were left. We went with eight because True Collinda wasn’t out yet and she likes to get to the fence.

“Hopefully she can give him a nice run into the race and he gets his chance.”

Race sponsor TAB currently has Koblenz as a $3.40 second favourite behind Aston Rupee ($2.30) from his box five draw.

Rounding out the chances under double figure odds is Jungle Deuce at $7.50 from box two and Wow She’s Fast at $9 from box four.

Remarkably, Koblenz hasn’t finished out of the placings in his past 29 appearances, in fact you need to go all the way back to April to find a blot on his copybook.

“Just a fierce competitor at the track,” Geall offered.

Koblenz winning the Melbourne Cup

“But at home he’s a total couch potato. As relaxed a dog as you’d find.

“When Kevin McNamara broke him in he said to me I might have another Melbourne Cup winner and he was right.

“Koblenz broke-in only a length off My Redeemer’s time which was the record. But his first section was unheard of for a break-in.

“When that happens you wonder if they’ll run a strong 500m but he’s furnished into almost the perfect greyhound with that blend of speed and strength, which you need in the big races.”

With his six starts at The Meadows returning three wins and three seconds, Geall is supremely confident Koblenz is primed to run one mighty race on Saturday night.

“He had a really nice hit-out at home on Tuesday morning which we’ll ramp up a bit Wednesday and then that’ll be it going into Saturday night,” he added.

“The Geelong Club were nice enough to give us an exhibition trial on Friday night over the 460m and he went 25.52 which I was stoked with as he doesn’t always trial that well on his own.

“It told me he’s right where he needs to be.”

Being involved in the first The TAB Phoenix and being within 30 seconds of having bred, reared and trained the sport’s greatest ever stakes earner isn’t something lost on Geall, who along with wife Rose presides over a pristine operation at Lara.

“After enjoying the ride of a lifetime with My Redeemer and Up Hill Jill you start to think that your time in the sun has come and gone,” Geall said.

“And then a dog like Koblenz comes along which we are so grateful for.

“But win, lose or draw on Saturday night we are just privileged to be there. SEN and Troy Little have been fantastic supporters and it would be great to reward them as well.”

Before Saturday night’s The TAB Phoenix, Geall will be represented by his three-time Country Cup winner Ferdinand Boy in the Group 1 Hobart Thousand Final.

Like Koblenz, Ferdinand Boy will carry the pink rug which is a far more advantageous draw at Hobart.

“Sue Gittus has done a great job with him and she reported in to say she couldn’t be happier with him this week,” Geall said.

“It’s a huge week for the kennel, if we could even win one of the two races we’d be over the moon.”