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Riches abound both on and off the track

 Nov 20 2013

It's a well-worn saying that if you want to have a small investment in the racing industry, start with a big one!

Think champagne, canapés and caviar, as millions of dollars are fervently spent at the glitz and glamour of Thoroughbred Yearling sales around the nation. And it all comes with the short-term expectations of securing a potential Golden Slipper winner, and long-term, in the hope that the purchaser may strike pay-dirt with a colt who can earn significantly more in the breeding barn than they can on the racetrack.

Ah, the dreams of many…unfortunately, the reality of so few.

But while those in the Thoroughbred industry continue to 'invest' millions, participants in the often-maligned (and often misunderstood) world of greyhound racing, quietly go about their business in an industry that continues to increase its wagering share, to the point where it now represents nearly 20% of the entire wagering market.

On Thursday night at Sandown Park in Victoria, it will take around 29 seconds (give or take a tenth of a second) for the TAB Melbourne Cup to be run and won, with connections of the winner earning a staggering $12,000 per second through the deeds of their pampered pooch.

The Melbourne Cup is the richest greyhound race in the world and offers up a massive $350,000 to the winner…mind you, the $100,000 for second and $50,000 for third is a healthy pay cheque as well, but like the Thoroughbred industry, it is the potential riches that await off the track

The Thoroughbred industry continue to debate and challenge the use of Frozen semen and artificial insemination, while the greyhound industry has embraced it, to become a world-leader.

Melbourne Cup pre-race favourite Black Magic Opal is the best performed son of boom sire Magic Sprite, who currently stands at a stud service fee of just $2,200.

Multiply $2,200 by 216, which is the amount of 'ladies' that Magic Sprite can inseminate during a calendar year and you have the not too shabby total of around $475,000. Given that he has at least another 4 years at stud, without any further increases in his price, Magic Sprite would subsequently earn his stud-master John Carruthers, nearly $2 million in stud fees.

On the back of the success his sire is experiencing, if Black Magic Opal was to win the Group 1 Melbourne Cup, his future as a stud dog would be cemented, and depending on the success of his own off-spring, could conservatively earn in the vicinity of $3 - $5million before he is able to rest comfortably in a luxurious kennel.

Black Magic Opal will start from Box 2 and is the raging $1.65 fixed-odds favourite with, and while I think he is the fastest greyhound in Australia up to a distance of 460 metres, I'm not totally convinced he is a certainty on Thursday night.

The facts and figures for him however, are compelling. In 3 out of his last 4 runs, he has established new track records at Geelong and Warrnambool (over distances up to 460metres) and last week in his heat win, he broke the first sectional record, and ran the fastest time of the night of 29:41 for the 515m trip.

Sky Racing will produce an extensive showcase presentation of the 2013 TAB Melbourne Cup from 6.40pm AEDT on Sky Racing2 and for Thursday night only, is offering Free Open Access to Sky Racing2 to all Foxtel customers.

My only concern is that he literally walked in the last 50 metres of last week's race, and on the two occasions he has raced at Sandown Park, he has never recorded a time faster than 29:40; it's interesting to note that 3 of his rivals tomorrow night have run at least 3 lengths faster than that time.

Trainer Jason Thompson, who already has two Melbourne Cups on his mantelpiece, is a magician at getting his greyhounds to peak at precisely the right time, and he has stated that last week's run was BMO's first '500' for a number of months and he expects significant improvement in him on Thursday night.

Early pace and the box draw is always vital in greyhound races, with more than 60% of races won by dogs which lead at the first turn. Again, on facts and figures alone, Black Magic Opal should lead by a clear 1 ½ lengths at the first turn, and if he has does that, I'm not sure anything can run him down.

Leading mentor Rob Britton prepares Iona Seven ($11 with and while he is hopeful of victory, he says the box draw has all but cruelled his chances.

"I just can't see how she can get across from Box 8," Britton lamented. "I think the key to the race is Kiss Me Ketut (Box 4) as he has early pace but will run a straight line to the first turn. If he does that and the favourite gets a clear passage in the early stages, Black Magic Opal will be nearly impossible to beat."    

Paul Anderton says he is 'living the dream' with Shifty Sticka ($3.65), who after an impressive heat win and subsequently drawing the inside box, has catapulted into calculations. Many pundits believe the best chance of an upset lies with this promising dog, which is yet to be unplaced in his 19 start career.

Peter Rocket ($14) is a proven G1 performer and has already earnt $289,000 in prize-money; victory in tomorrow night's race would see him climb to 2nd on the all-time earnings list which is held by the now retired champion stayer Miata, who banked more than $715,000.
The conundrum for this tipster is whether I try and be a hero and tip something to beat the favourite, or play safe and herald the short-price commodity?

Although my usual betting style is to go for value, I just can't envisage Black Magic Opal not leading at the first turn, and if he does, I can't see him being beaten.

I'll be playing the Trifecta and First 4's, and standing out BMO from Iona Seven, Kiss Me Ketut and Shifty Sticka.

Good luck and good punting.

By Mark Duclos

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