By Mick Floyd
Robert Britton continues to enhance his reputation as one of the country’s leading conditioners of stayers following Blazing Cartier’s win in the Gr8 Eight over 715 metres at Sandown Park last Thursday night.
The latest edition of the Gr8 series shaped as one of the strongest yet, with the 715-metre event featuring four Group 1 winners, however it was the unheralded Blazing Cartier that stole the show. In her first appearance since running sixth in the RSN Sandown Cup, Blazing Cartier settled near the pace set by early leader Rajasthan and proved the superior stayer in the run to the line, winning her 50th career start in 41.82.
Fellow RSN Sandown Cup finalist He Shall Power was again the eye-catching runner from the race, charging home to finish within two lengths of the winner. Despite having just four wins to his name from 20 career starts, the Shona Crawford-trained youngster is yet to miss a place in four starts over the distance and remains one of the country’s hottest staying prospects.
Meanwhile, Christo Bale is quickly emerging as one of the country’s fastest sprinters. Very quickly, in fact.
After scintillating wins in 29.21 at Sandown and 29.72 at the Meadows, Christo Bale lined up in a hot Free For All. Lining up for his 22nd career start, it was his first above Grade 4 level (excluding the Group 1 Silver Chief, in which he ran last) and met two of the state’s premier sprinters in Tiggerlong Tonk and Jax Bale.
Tiggerlong Tonk ($1.40) looked the dog to beat, having drawn box two however he was unable to hold out Jax Bale to the first turn. As they came together, Christo Bale took the sit on the outside of the leaders before unleashing a powerful finishing burst to score in 29.29.
It was his third consecutive victory and the 10th of his blossoming career.
“His last three starts he’s shown what he’s capable of,” said handler Lisa Delbridge.
“He had about six weeks off when the virus came through and we’ve just taken our time to build him up. He just needs a clear passage early because when he gets going he is really strong.
“I’d love to see what he can do over 600 metres.”
A week after the Kel Greenough-trained Houdini Boy won after recording one of the slowest first splits of the year, the Jackie Greenough-trained Wynburn Lethal won while recording one of the fastest.
First up after a three-month break and on her Sandown debut, Wynburn Lethal shanghaied from box two to record a 4.98 first split and lead by three lengths past the post the first time. Only Catch The Thief – the current favourite for the TAB Melbourne Cup – has won a race going quicker to the first mark in 2020.
Interestingly, it was the same split a greyhound named Pechey – also trained by Jackie Greenough – ran in 2016. Pechey is the mother of Houdini Boy, who ran 5.45 in his recent win.
While their racing styles couldn’t have been more contrasting, the overall difference in the times of Wynburn Lethal and Houdini Boy was just 0.01 seconds.
Glenn Rounds had two of the shortest-priced favourites on the night, which – having both drawn box one – led to one tipster on RSN to declare “they just win”.
Those who took the $1.60 about Amarillo Highway in Race 7 and the $1.50 on Aston Stealth in Race 11 would have had their hearts in their mouths after both greyhounds began only fairly from their inside draws, passing the post the first time in the second half of the field before working their way through to win in the shadows of the post. Their combined margin was just over one length.
It was one of the themes of the night, with seven of the 12 races determined by less than a length.
Finally, it’s been a long time coming, but Flossing finally broke through for her first win at Sandown Park.
She ran second on her debut at Sandown Park in September 2018 and has run second five times, including in the Group 2 Laurels in December that year.
It was her fourth start since resuming from a 10-month break. She had been placed twice before winning the Super Sprint at Healesville and breaking through at HQ for the first time in nine attempts.