By Gerard Guthrie
Superstar Aston Rupee confirmed his status as the world’s fastest greyhound when packing too much ‘firepower’ for his rivals in the Group 3 Shootout (515m) at Sandown Park on Thursday night.
Trained by Glenn Rounds for prominent owner/breeder Ray Borda, Aston Rupee is now on target to become only the second greyhound after legendary sprinter/sire Bombastic Shiraz in 2003 to win the ‘Triple Crown’, consisting of the Topgun, Shootout and Melbourne Cup.
“It’s alive,” Rounds told Sandown’s Jason Adams post race.
“He’s won two of them, so it’s alive. Next week (Friday’s Melbourne Cup heats) is another dog race and we go and do it again.”
Five nights after defeating the best sprinters in the land in the G1 Topgun at The Meadows, his first G1 success, Aston Rupee added the Shootout to previous feature victories in G3 Speed Star series at both Sandown and The Meadows.
Aston Rupee holds Sandown’s 515m record after clocking 28.79sec on September 9, while he then became the first sprinter to break 29 seconds twice at the track with a 28.89sec run on October 28.
With his blistering recent form and stellar Sandown statistics, Aston Rupee stifled betting on the four-greyhound $25,000 winner-takes-all Shootout, starting at $1.40 from Box 3.
Defending Shootout champion Tiggerlong Tonk (Box 7), runner-up to Aston Rupee in the Topgun, was the $2.90 second elect, with Lakeview Walter (Box 1) at $10.80 and McCooly’s Lad (Box 5) $19.40.
Tiggerlong Tonk led Aston Rupee in the Topgun and many pundits expected the veteran to again make the running, but the Shootout was over as a contest when the long odds-on favourite continued his recent habit of flying the traps.
It was a matter of ‘watch the clock’ when the son of KC And All and Aston Miley jumped sweetly and found the front with a 5.02sec first split.
Tiggerlong Tonk gave his all in pursuit but couldn’t make any inroads, as Aston Rupee increased the margin handsomely in the home straight, careering away by 5.66 lengths in 29.10sec.
While well outside his course record, it was a scintillating performance on a track that had been affected by heavy rain last weekend and subsequent repair work.
“He’s got his timing and his box manners are beautiful,” said Rounds, who with late partner Judy Hayley won the Shootout in 2001 with Junior Whisky.
“It’s very pleasing to see him driving the way he is.
“Very nice (the time). We’ve had the trouble you had here with the washaway of the track. We all know the rain that came through Melbourne last week.”
It was Aston Rupee’s 18th win from 31 starts, his seventh from his last eight, and seventh from 12 at Sandown, and it’s no surprise he’s $5 favourite in TAB’s ‘All In’ Melbourne Cup market.
“No. Where?” Rounds quipped when asked if there was an area Aston Rupee could improve after his faultless Shootout display.
“He’s an amazing animal!”