By Mick Floyd
Hooked On Scotch showed why he is regarded by some as ‘the fastest greyhound on the planet’, with a breathtaking victory in his 595-metre debut at Sandown on Thursday night.
In one of the most eagerly-anticipated middle distance debuts in over a decade of racing over the trip, the 515-metre track record holder began flawlessly to take the early lead and open a three-length gap to Weblec Ace.
That margin was cut to less than a length down the back straight however ‘Buster’ kicked clear in the run to the line, winning by two-and-a-quarter lengths in 33.806.
“(I’m) really happy to see him begin like that,” said trainer, the Pearcedale-based Jason Thompson.
“That was one of the reasons we put him in over the distance. He’s been running against some of the (best) sprinters in the country and finding a bit of trouble at the start so hopefully he can take a bit of confidence from that.”
His winning time was the ninth-fastest ever over the distance, and the second-fastest run a by a greyhound on debut over the trip – beaten only by Dyna Double One’s 33.63 track record gallop.
Hooked On Scotch – or ‘Buster’ as he’s known at Thompson’s home at Awesome Lodge – was simply brilliant in his first 595-metre start.
Not only was it the second fastest debut run by a greyhound over the trip, it was the ninth fastest time ever over 595 metres; the fastest 595-metre gallop so far in 2020 (eclipsing Rockstar Prince’s 33.818); the fastest Thompson-trained winner over 595 metres (eclipsing Extreme Magic’s 33.835); and the third-best combined 515-metre and 595-metre time (62.745) behind Dyna Double One (62.680) and Dyna Patty (62.731).
But, as impressive as the win on Thursday was, his campaign over the middle distance is likely to be short lived with the Victorian National Sprint Series (over 515 metres) in early August his next target.
Group 1 Sapphire Crown winner Black Opium was unable to make it a winning double for Thompson, after finishing second to the impressive Mepunga Daniel in the following race.
Black Opium began well but was beaten to the first turn by Mepunga Daniel and, despite her best efforts, was unable to reel in the leader as Mepunga Daniel scored in an impressive 29.31.
Mepunga Daniel was trainer Jeff Britton’s second winner on the night, following Weblec Jet’s impressive victory in Race 2. The son of Fernando Bale remains undefeated after three career starts.