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Fernando could be one in a million

 May 15 2015

As the younger generation now so frequently say…OMG!

Last night at Sandown Park, Australia’s premier sprinter, Fernando Bale, added yet another Group 1 title to his ever-burgeoning resume when he dominated from box-rise to the finish post in the $100,000 to the winner Harrison-Dawson final.

Starting $1.05 with Fixed Odds, he established a new record as the shortest price fixed odds favourite in greyhound racing history while rank and file punters also took the short-odds on offer as he paid $1.04 on the pari-mutuel tote, odds of 25/1 on.

With impeccable box manners, nothing this chaser does of late seems to surprise even the most hardened of racing pundits but one thing is for certain, if Fernando Bale maintains his current form and racing prowess, he is on track to become the first greyhound in history to smash through the magical $1 million mark in prizemoney earnings.

Just 26 months of age, the son of American sire Kelso’s Fusileer is out of the broodbitch Chloe Allen, another champion producer from the long line of matrons that reside at Paul and Jan Wheelers’ picturesque property at Boorowa in south-west NSW.

As dominant as Fernando Bale is, the Team Wheeler operation is even more so, and they deservedly hold the mantle as the biggest and most successful greyhound breeding operation, anywhere in the world.

Dyna, Bale, Allen…any greyhound that carries that prefix or suffix in their racing name is a result of years and years of dedication, skill, expertise and a little bit of luck thrown in for good measure, that the Wheeler family have grafted since the late Allen Wheeler commenced their greyhound breeding and racing dynasty back in the late 1960’s.

Fernando Bale’s tally of prize-money earnings now stands at $517,390 as a result of three victories at Group 1 level and 17 wins from 22 starts overall, but its what he could win in the next seven months which is even more mind-boggling.

Next week, he is scheduled to take his place in the Group 3 Bill Collins Memorial where $25,000 is on offer to the winner but it’s the massive riches that are scheduled on the Australian greyhound racing calendar between June and December that could catapult him into a stratosphere of his own.

The G1 Winter Carnival Cup at Albion Park in early July is worth $100,000 to the winner; in late-July the age restricted G1 Maturity Classic at The Meadows also has $100,000 on offer;

Following those two events, the G1 National Sprint Championship final at Wentworth Park (a track where Fernando Bale has already won two Group 1 events at) will be decided in late August and is worth $75,000; that could then be followed by the $75,000 to the winner G1 Dapto Megastar in mid-September before a possible sojourn to the city of churches for the G1 Adelaide Cup in October with another $75,000 up for grab.

And then, the big money comes to the fore.

The Sky Racing Topgun at The Meadows in late October, a one-off invitation only race, is worth $150,000 to the winner before the big daddy of them all rolls along at Sandown Park in late November, the world’s richest greyhound race, the TAB Melbourne Cup worth a massive $420,000 to the eventual winner.

Wow…I’m out of breath just thinking about it but for those who consider that to be an arduous campaign, remember that greyhounds are unbelievably stoic animals who just love to race and compete and Fernando Bale is being guided in his preparation by Team Dailly (Andrea, Tom and George Dailly), Australia’s premier greyhound training operation.   

So let’s allow ourselves the licence (some may say craziness) to dream for just one minute that Fernando Bale was able to win all of the above nominated Group 1 races…I know it may sound far fetched but then again, I never thought I would see a greyhound start a $1.05 favourite in a Group 1 race either!

Victory in those seven races would result in more than $995,000 in prizemoney earnings and take his tally to in excess of…$1,500,000.

But if that were too much of a stretch, wins in the Topgun and Melbourne Cup alone would see Fernando Bale become the first ever, million-dollar chaser.

The greyhound racing industry has faced many challenges in the past few months and will face more in the immediate future – one can only be thankful that Fernando Bale has arrived to ensure that not everything is doom and gloom and that the light at the end of the tunnel is Fernando scorching the track and not another train crash coming. 

Mark Duclos - Sky Racing

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