There are some track records in Australia that have stood the test of time for a number of years and on face value, appear destined never to be broken.
Brett Lee’s 515m record at Angle Park of 28.88 is considered ‘untouchable’ and has never even been remotely challenged since the champion sprinter set the mark when winning the 2001 Group 1 Adelaide Cup.
Two weeks ago, Fernando Bale ran just 2/100th’s outside Bekim Bale’s record at Sandown Park over 515m, a record that was set on a balmy Spring evening in September 2011, a time of year much more conducive to breaking track records than the cooler weather of mid-May.
Last Thursday night in a heat of the G1 Sandown Cup over 715m, current super stayer Space Star clocked 41.26, the second fastest time ever recorded over the distance and 9/100ths (or around 1 ½ lengths) outside former champion Miata’s mark, which she co-incidentally established in a heat of the same race in 2012.
So, are racetracks getting that much quicker or are Fernando Bale and Space Star just genuine superstars? For me, I think it’s the latter.
From the moment Space Star set foot on a racetrack he created headlines. At his debut performance in a maiden race at Richmond, he set a new track record over 600m and then nine starts later he smashed the record over the same distance at Gosford.
In February this year, in a heat of the Group 1 SuperStayers at The Meadows, Space Star did what not even his trainer Rob Britton thought any greyhound could do, and broke Nellie Noddles’ (also trained by Britton) record over the 725m when he ran 41.93, taking a neat tenth of a second off the mark which had stood since April 2010.
While you don’t get paid anymore for breaking a track record it does ensure you’re pretty hard to beat when you’re running them and Space Star has climbed to the pinnacle of distance racing in Australia in the past six months since entering the kennels of Britton.
The G1 Sandown Cup is set to jump at 9:35pm (AEST). Check out the full TAB.com.au market here.
His feature race victories to date include the G1 Association Cup; the G1 Galaxy; the G1 Zoom Top; the G2 Summer Distance Plate; and the G3 Wentworth Park Gold Cup as well as minor placing’s in three other Group 1 events.
With 25 wins and 9 placings from 37 starts, the son of Bekim Bale has accumulated $453,900 in earnings and victory in the Sandown Cup would swell his coffers to nearly $630,000 and sixth on the all-time prizemoney list.
To my mind, Space Star ($1.28 with TAB.com.au) is perfectly drawn in box 8, and although Rob Britton said it’s a favourable draw, he was hoping for the inside box.
“The short run to the first turn at Sandown Park is always a concern if you miss the start from out wide so I’m hoping he steps cleanly like he did last week,” said Britton. “The way he is racing at the moment I think that he thinks he is Muhammad Ali so I’m just hoping he continues in that form this week.”
Standing in his way is former top stayer Sweet It Is who is defending her Sandown Cup crown she won last year in dominant style.
Winless at her previous five starts since resuming from a seasonal spell, Sweet It Is ($4) produced one of her former characteristic performances last week when she came from near last to win running away in the time of 41.82, more than eight lengths slower on the clock than what Space Star recorded.
With current earnings of $643,015, if the daughter of Mogambo were able to win the $175,000 event on Thursday night, she would surpass Xylia Allen’s all-time prizemoney record of $743,730.
Throw into the mix Lady Toy ($11) who has been a bridesmaid to Space Star on a number of occasions and it is a recipe for a Sandown Cup for the ages.
My tips in the Group 1 Sandown Cup are Space Star from Lady Toy, Sweet It Is and Zipping Maggie.
I’ll be trackside at Sandown Park from 7pm bringing viewers all the action on Sky Racing1 (Channel 519) and as an entrée to the world’s richest staying event, Fernando Bale will start a pronounced favourite (currently $1.20 with TAB.com.au) when he exits box 1 in the Group 3 Bill Collins Memorial, the same box he was victorious from in last week’s G1 Harrison-Dawson final.
Good luck and good punting
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