One of the world’s most prestigious greyhound races will return to Sandown in 2021 as the Melbourne Cup kicks to life for its 66th running.
While the race has been overtaken by the Million Dollar Chase as Australia’s richest greyhound race, the $762,000 in prizemoney on offer - of which $500,000 goes to the winner - still makes it one of the must-see races on the Australian greyhound racing calendar.
The field that has been set for the 2021 running of the race will see seven different trainers across the eight greyhounds, with Andrea Dailly the only one to double up for the 515-metre race, taking Lala Kiwi and Tiberia Bale into the race.
Lala Kiwi is the only one out of that training group likely to be in the fight throughout the race, although Box 5 could leave it looking down the barrel of a tough race from the outside in what will be an all-star field for the rich race, which has the same name as the thoroughbred version that stops Australia just a few weeks ago.
Lala Kiwi does have 23 wins from 58 starts, and has won 4 of 8 at Sandown over the 515-metre distance, but doesn’t come into the race with the fastest time over this track and distance.
That honour instead goes to the Glenn Rounds-trained Aston Rupee, who, with a time of 28.79, comes into the race as the heavy favourite, paying as low as $2.10.
Rupee has however drawn Box 4, leaving the runner in need of a good start to get to the inside rail in the lead ahead of the first turn at Sandown.
Lakeview Walter & Koblenz
Alongside Lala Kiwi and Aston Rupee, Lakeview Walter and Koblenz are the other greyhounds to have run a time of 29.2 or better over the 515 metres at Sandown in their careers to date ahead of the 2021 Melbourne Cup.
Lakeview Walter - who will come from Box 6 - has 11 career wins from 32 starts, but a better strike rate at Sandown, playing in at 10 of the 15 runs over the 515 metres it has had at the track. The time of 29.15 leaves it well short of Aston Rupee though.
Koblenz could be the danger from Box 3. A time of 29.16 leaves it within half a second of Aston Rupee’s best effort, while 26 wins from 42 starts, including 6 from 9 at Sandown over the 515 metres leaves it in an excellent position to be able to make something of this year’s Group 1 charge around Sandown.
The David Geall-trained runner has been in excellent form in the lead-up, and with the inside run and a ferocious turn of pace early in its races, could be one of the front-runners to hit the early lead, before attempting to hold on through the remainder of the 515 metres.
The other runners in the field are Aussie Secret, trained by Jason Thompson out of Box 1, Jepara, trained by Angela Langton out of Box 2 and Kinson Bale out of Box 8, trained by Samantha Grenfell.
Jepara and Aussie Secret have set best times over the 515 at Sandown of 29.31 and 29.37 respectively, with Aussie Secret winning 33 off 6 career meetings in stats that will make it a danger for this race, while Kinson Bale is the third-most experienced runner in the field with 68 starts, but has only won 15 times and has the worst best time in the field.