While Australia's best sprinters line up for the world's richest greyhound race, the Group 1, TAB Melbourne Cup tomorrow night, the nation's staying stars get their opportunity to shine in the Group 1, Bold Trease Carnival Cup.
Run over the testing 715 metre trip at Sandown Park, the event is named in honour of champion half miler Bold Trease, the winner of an amazing, four consecutive Sandown Cups in the late 1980s. The fawn flash was inducted into the Greyhound Racing Hall of Fame in 2002 in recognition of his remarkable racetrack career, which saw him win a staggering 51 of his 104 starts.
Last year the prestigious event was taken out by another champion, when the mighty Miata stormed home to claim top honours in 41.79. Australia's highest prizemoney earner won't be back to defend her crown this year after recently becoming a mum to eleven healthy pups, leaving the event a wide open affair.
Sky Racing will present a showcase presentation of Melbourne Cup night with all the live action from Sandown Park on Sky Racing2. As a bonus, Sky Racing is offering all Foxtel customers free Open Access to Sky Racing2. Coverage starts at 6:40pm AEDT.
Anthony Flores will have two runners engaged in the $100,000 to the winner feature and looks to have a great chance despite his charges drawing awkwardly in boxes four and five. Flores trains talented litter brothers Hurricane Isaac ($16.00 with TAB.com.au Fixed Odds) and Amity Flame ($4.00), the latter qualifying fastest last week when clocking 42.17.
After buying both greyhounds for $900 each as pups - for a hobby during his retirement - it will only take one of the black speedsters to win, to turn this tale into a legitimate, rags to riches story.
Early favourite for the prestigious race is American import Lucy Wires ($2.70) which has drawn favourably in box two. Trained by astute mentor Robert Britton, the Geoff Collins-owned bitch has a perfect record from the checks and a slick personal best of 41.88 at the track and distance. The Group 3 Sydney Cup winner claimed her heat last week in 42.26.
Britton also has former Tasmanian Cheetah Zorro ($9.00) engaged from box three. The daughter of Bombastic Shiraz is bred to stay, being out Fallen Zorro, herself a winner of the Bold Trease back in 2008.
Four time Group 1 winner Destini Fireball ($4.50) hasn't been the champion we all know he is in recent starts, but gets his chance to bounce back to form from the cherry.
Destini Fireball was pipped on the post in his heat by Sweet It Is ($10.00). After the controversial late scratching of her half-brother Banjo Boy from the Melbourne Cup heats last Thursday night, Sweet It Is, the daughter of Mogambo and Off Springer, will be looking to make the family proud when she jumps from box eight.
Despite the absence of his wonderful stayer Proven Impala, Joe Borg still gets his chance in the race with the underrated Hala Belle ($7.00) starting from the six. In a roughly run race, the black bitch pinched second in her heat behind Lucy Wires to secure her spot in the final. The consistent greyhound is lining up in her second Group 1 final in just over two weeks having qualified for the Hume Cup decider, taken out by Alpe D'Huez.
Last, but not least, is the Michael Carter-trained Freddy's Smile ($21.00) which will jump wearing the black rug. The son of Bombastic Shiraz ran a handy second in his heat last week at his debut over the track and distance.
G1 - The Bet365 Celebration Steeple Chase (class 1)
G3 - The Bet365 Gold Cup Steeple Chase (handicap) (class 1)
G1 - Aes Champion 4yo Hdle
Grade B - Setanta Sport H'cap Hdle
Grade B - Palmerstown House Pat Taaffe H'cap Chase