Bell set to Ring Strongly at Hatrick

During an interview for Friday’s $15,825 Wanganui Stayers Final a trainer suggested tongue-in-cheek, “Why doesn’t greyhound racing have handicaps like they do in the horse codes? We might have a winning chance then.”

Pictured: The dual Group 1 winning stayer Ring The Bell will jump as a red hot favourite to win Friday’s Wanganui Stayers Final.

The throw away line was in reference to the absolute domination that the freakish stayer Ring The Bell holds over his rivals for the Group 2 event over the 755m distance. The Ray Adcock mentored stayer demolished his heat opponents by an ever increasing 21.5 lengths last Friday. He clocked a tidy 44.18s in doing so.

The trend for Ring The Bell in his previous two Group race victories has been to significantly improve his heat time in the Final, which is a scary scenario for the other contestants to face. His seven races since he crossed the Tasman have yielded him seven wins. His six staying races have been won by a staggering combined 87.75 lengths, an amazing 14.63 lengths per race!

“He’s relaxed and is all ready to go again. He has been like that pretty much straight after all of his races - he bounces back immediately. He puts in (accelerates) at the right time in his races and when he does the others can’t get near him. Yes, I feel there’s natural improvement in him after having his first look up there,” commented Adcock.

It was a completely contrasting race for the other 755m heat which resulted in the promising up and coming stayer Nitehawk Rose prevailing. The Bill Hodgson trained stayer occupied the midfield pack until approaching the final bend from where she took over the pace. From there, she maintained a strong gallop which saw her securing her heat win by a length, clocking 44.93s.

Her conditioner has applied the finishing touches to numerous classy greyhounds for decades, including stayers. Therefore, you have to sit up and take notice of what Bill says. “In my mind I believe she’s capable of beating the favourite. I have always thought she’d turn into a strong stayer. I expected her to feature last week and I was proud of her when she did. I’m not worried about the time she ran as she did strike some trouble. She’s drawn good as she likes the rail which puts her right into this. She’s pulled up a hundred percent,” confirmed Hodgson.

Tranquil Blossom is the holder of a Group 1 755m staying title on this track. She secured her place in this final via her 3.75 length third behind Nitehawk Rose. She was forced to do a fair amount of work during the running and she didn’t get the clearest of racing passages around the final bend. She was also on the quick back up from her strong Manawatu 660m win earlier in the week.

“She’s more comfortable when racing on the inside of other dogs. She never received the opportunity of doing so in her heat. She raced on the outside of Cawbourne Trixy and she struggled to get past her – you have to remember Trixy is a C4 dog while Blossom is only C1 graded over the middle distance. Trixy also ran her out and took her line turning for home. She’s fantastic heading into Friday,” said the trainer’s partner Paul Freeman.

Tranquil Blossom’s proven staying record, which includes finishing as the runner up to Ring The Bell in the NZ Stayers’ Cup cannot be ignored, especially when checking out the tidy staying record she is compiling over the 755m distance.

Cambridge trainer Peter Fergusson, now training on his own account, has made a successful start to the new racing season. He has qualified Alzheimer’s for this final after she gallantly led the chasing field after the tear away Ring The Bell. It was her first attempt at an extreme race distance and she only peaked on her gallop during the run home, which saw her winding up 23.5 lengths behind the Aussie stayer.

The key her stakes claim here is her receiving a clear early racing passage. She effectively used that tactic when she led throughout for her bold prior Manukau 603m win. “I thought that was a really nice heat run by her. She is in really good space at the moment. Before she couldn’t take a bump – she took one in her heat and she maintained her momentum. Hey if she’s out in front, she’s out of trouble, but I guess to be realistic we’re all chasing a memory here. I’m happy to be in there and I’m more than happy with going into the race – all we need is that little bit of luck,” suggested Fergusson.

Phantom Way caught the eye in the resolute manner she pressed on for her length heat second to Nitehawk Rose. She lined up in a couple of staying Group race finals last year and earning a portion of the stake in this final would be justified reward for her trainer Carol Morris.

We spoke to Pippa Lammas, the daughter of the trainer. “That was a much better run by her the other night. I thought she came home strongly and was pleased to see her doing so. We’ll be pretty happy if she’s sitting around fourth or fifth. If she does, she can finish in a top three placing. We will be over the moon if she makes it onto the podium. She is thriving at the moment and she has come through her heat very well.”

Pacific Sunrise was courageous when she led home the vain chase behind the freewheeling Ring The Bell for her conditioner Marcie Flipp after being involved in the chase after the pacemaker for the greater part of trip. However drawing out wide isn’t where her trainer wanted her to be as she explains, “I needed her to draw inside – I feel she’ll get herself into some trouble from out there.

“In saying that we are really rapt she has made the final. She’s certainly no Ring The Bell, but she was very brave and we’re over the moon with her second and I’m hoping she gets around safely. She is on top of the world at the moment and she’s ready to go on Friday.

Tranquil Blossom Cawbourne Trixy Alzheimers
Wanganui Stayers finalists includes (from left): Tranquil Blossom, Cawbourne Trixy; Alzheimer’s

Matt Roberts has qualified two finalists, plus he also has the first reserve here. Cawbourne Kai was a Duke Of Edinburgh Sliver Collar runner last season, finishing a sound fifth in the great 799m event. In his heat he settled in fourth where he remained for a fair way until making a late dab to cut Alzheimer’s out of third over the concluding stages.

“He’s making a habit of making Group race staying finals, which is good to see. He’ll like drawing out in eight from where I expect him to keep on plugging on throughout the whole journey. If he does that, then yes, he has a chance of running into the minor money,” said Roberts.

Cawbourne Trixy was very brave when qualifying for this final, which will be just her third outing over the longer journeys. It was understandable seeing her fading a tad over the later stages when she ultimately finished five lengths astern of Nitehawk Rose. There’s no denying her ability to cut out some seriously quick mid-race sectionals which could at least give Ring The Bell something to think about for at least a portion of Friday’s trip.

“It was a last minute decision to put her into this race. She looked like the winner when turning for home, then she cramped a bit over the later stages. I feel she will be better for the experience and improved after her first look at the trip. I would prefer it if she took an early sit. Both of my stayers have come through their heats really well. Hey, I’ll be happy to walk away with a minor placing,” stated Roberts.

Cawbourne Buckle led her heat rivals through the first lap, and surprisingly, she didn’t run her race out as strongly as expected, especially since she has placed in a previous 755m race around here. She wound up fifth in the heat won by Nitehawk Rose.

Unless there are two scratchings, this final will be the first time in numerous seasons that a Group race staying final hasn’t featured an Arch Lawrence-bred, reared, co-owned and trained contender. That factor is extremely unusual.

Augello is occupying the second position on the reserves bench. His older half sister Shandell won this race last year – unfortunately, she won’t be returning to defend her title after missing a final field position in her heat. Augello is known for his strong finishing efforts and is capable of sniffing out a minor portion of the stake in the unlikely event he gains a race start in this final.

Phantom Way Cawbourne Kai Augello
Wanganui Stayers finalists includes (from left): Phantom Way; Cawbourne Kai and reserve Augello

Pawnote: In reference to the “Why doesn’t Greyhound racing have handicaps like they do in the horse codes?” crack made in the lead paragraph, Greyhound racing does hold handicap racing on the Meadows track in Melbourne. And yes, it is for the staying chasers. Frequently the first race on their Saturday card in a handicap 725m event, where staggered starting traps are used. Obviously, those races are not at Group race level.

By Peter Fenemor

Posted on 10/08/2017 3:50:26 PM

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