By MICHAEL FLOYD
RAIN, hail or shine, Fernando Bale will prevail.
That was the verdict at Sandown Park on Thursday evening after greyhound super star Fernando Bale claimed his 23rd win from his last 25 starts in a heat of the Victorian National Sprint Championship.
Fernando Bale was sent to the boxes as the $1.10 favourite – the 14th consecutive start in which he’s started as the odds-on favourite – and the cold, wet and windy conditions did nothing to temper his explosive early speed, pinging from box 3 to lead Kayda Shae first time past the post.
To the surprise of many, Fernando Bale moved off the rail through the first turn, allowing Kayda Shae to rail through and draw level with the seven-time group race winner. However Fernando Bale showed the extraordinary speed that has made him Australia’s premier sprinter, going on to win for the 26th time in his 32 career starts and be guaranteed a berth in the Nation Sprint Championship Grand Final.
“I’m very happy, he did a good job,” said trainer Andrea Dailly.
“I thought he was going to let Kayda Shae through at the first turn but he knuckled down and found the line really well.”
While his winning time of 29.34 was a long way outside of his best time at the track, it was still the fastest time recorded on the night (his 20th win in best of night time). Indeed, the next fastest heat winners – Margins and Ronray Spirit – registered victories in 29.60. Lamia Bale and Weston East won the final two heats of the night, and with Mepunga Armagh and Above All joining Kayda Shae in the final as the fastest runners-up, the stage is set for one of the best races seen at Sandown Park in many years.Seven of the eight finalists have won over $100,000 in prize money, combining to win in excess of an extraordinary $1.9m. Six have won at group level and all have qualified for at least two group finals, combining to contest 35 group finals in total for 17 wins (including eight at Group-1 level).
Sandown Park is giving one lucky patron and a friend the chance to see Fernando Bale chase an unprecedented sixth Group-1 win at the National Sprint Championship Grand Final at Wentworth Park, Sydney, on Saturday 15 August. Simply be on course at this week’s Victorian National Sprint final for your chance to win.