By Jason Adams
Christo Bale is one of the most exciting greyhounds in the sport and on Thursday night claimed the first big scalp of his career with a stunning win in the Group 2 McKenna Memorial final.
He began well and settled at the pointy-end of the field, outside of Last Hurrah.
As caller James Van de Maat said, he “turned up the heat” down the back straight and extended the margin to five lengths as they hit the line. His time was a race record 33.86.
“We’re very proud,” said co-trainer Lisa Delbridge.
“He’s improved with leaps and bounds in the past eight weeks since he came back from illness.
“We were worried about True Detective on his inside, but fortunately for us he didn’t begin that well so he (Christo) was able to settle close and, in the end, prove too strong.”
Throughout his 26 starts, Christo’s always shown ability and strength but it’s been his past seven where he’s put it all together. Delbridge said they realised his potential early and had high hopes for what he could achieve.
“We always pre-train them at The Meadows and from very early on he was setting fast times,” she said.
“We knew he was talented though hoped he would go on further to run ‘500’ (metres) and as well produce it in a field.”
Team Delbridge has history in the McKenna, having taken out the race a decade ago.
“In 2010 we won it with Flash of Light and that was the first time it was held over 595 metres,” Delbridge explained.
“It’s great to be able to win it again and in honour of such an influential person of the sport.”
Christo Bale is eligible for the upcoming heats of the age-restricted Maturity series at The Meadows. Following discussion between Mark and Lisa Delbridge on Thursday night, it was confirmed Christo will be heading that way.