Talbingo Bale headlines last Group 1 of the season

Talbingo Bale will jump from Box 8 in Thursday’s Group 1 Rose & Thistle South Island Champs. Photo credit: Dave Robbie.

Talbingo Bale will line up as the short-priced favourite in this Thursday’s Group 1 Rose & Thistle South Island Champs. The son of David Bale and Dyna Zesty is one of five Craig Roberts runners in the $30,000 feature, and barring exceptionally bad luck, he should simply be winning on Thursday.

He jumped straight to the front off Box 8 in last week’s heat, and led throughout to score by five and a half lengths in 29.96. This week, he will don the pink rug again for the final.

“In my opinion, he’s somewhat cementing himself as the King of Addington,” said Dan Roberts, son of Craig. “To break 30 seconds on a cold night like it was on Thursday just shows how good he is.”

Melville Bale won the other South Island Champs heat last week in 30.24, and the Group 1 New Zealand St Leger winner will jump from Box 6 on Thursday.

“He does sort of angle right straight out of the boxes, but if he cops a bit of knock from anything outside of him, it sort of straightens him up a wee bit,” said Roberts.

Completing the Roberts quintet are Bahati Bale (Box 1), Oberon Bale (Box 5) and Money Spinner (Box 7). Bahati Bale led the chase behind Talbingo Bale last week, while Money Spinner and Oberon Bale finished third and fourth respectively behind Melville Bale.

“Bahati Bale had just been going fairly in her last couple, so it was good to see her bounce back to some form, especially in a Group 1 heat. I was quite happy with her run – obviously, she just doesn’t quite have the measure of Talbingo Bale, but she was good nonetheless.

“Money Spinner has earned his spot in the final. He’s just turned four a month ago, so it’s a good effort for a four-year-old to be competing at that level and making Group 1 finals. It’s probably hard to see him troubling them in the final – he’d need a lot to go his way – but he’s earned his spot.

“I was actually quite happy with the run of Oberon Bale. I thought he would be really underdone, but he found the line well enough and I just thought that he would be a massive improver from that run.”

Opawa Wayne was the quickest Group 2 Suck It Up Ltd Canterbury Futurity heat winner last week. Photo credit: Dave Robbie.

Meanwhile, Jean and Dave Fahey-trained greyhounds dominate the Group 2 Suck It Up Ltd Canterbury Futurity field, with the husband-wife training combination qualifying five runners for the final, along with the first reserve.

Opawa Wayne is shooting for a hat-trick of victories, and was impressive in leading his heat from start to finish to score by over seven lengths, clocking 30.07 in doing so. He looks ideally drawn in Box 2 this week.

“I’d definitely lean towards Wayne this week. I wouldn’t underestimate him,” said co-trainer Dave Fahey.

Opawa Superstar had his first start back after a two-month hiatus last week, and he narrowly held on to score in his heat over the fast-finishing Goldstar Carlito. While the time was only 30.33, Fahey suggests we can expect to see improvement from the champion this week.

“He’s itching to go again,” said Fahey. “He’s been jumping out of his skin. He was definitely underdone for the heats, but I was really impressed with his recovery – he’s recovered really quick.

“He seems as bright as a button, the run hasn’t bothered him. But I do expect that run to really improve him for this week.

“He can definitely win the final, but Wayne is on fire at the moment and Wayne’s 100 percent fit and raring to go, so he’s got to be awfully hard to beat.”

While Opawa Wayne and Opawa Superstar appear to be the Faheys’ leading contenders in the $30,000 event, their other runners in the race are still worth consideration. Opawa Chrissy also won a heat last week after beginning cleanly and leading throughout in 30.30.

“She’d been disappointing lately. She used to be a really good box dog but now she’s so keen to go, she’s clawing at the lids and she’s been missing it a fair bit. But it was great to see her jump to the front.

“She’s not quite the dog I thought she’d be, but hopefully she might be on her way back.”

Finally, Opawa Gina (who finished just under three lengths astern of Opawa Chrissy) will jump from Box 6 and Milky Tea (third behind Opawa Superstar) has drawn Box 8.

“Opawa Gina is really honest and she’s hardly out of the money. She surprised me in the Oaks – she jumped to the front there, but Charlotte Lu was just too quick for her. She is capable of coming out running sometimes.”

The Faheys will also be represented by Dembe in the Group 1 South Island Champs, following a strong effort for second behind Melville Bale in his heat.

“He’s as honest as they come and he really deserves to get in the money in a race like that. He’s just a really good grafter and a lovely dog to have around. And he’s in career best form, as well.”

By Liz Whelan

Posted on 12 July 2022

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