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Herald Sun Form Guide : May 14th 2009
+ 46 Herald Sun, Thursday, May 14, 2009 SANDOWN CUP Sirocco boxed in, but optimistic Nick Quinn TRAINER Wayne Vassallo is delighted with Sirocco Hero, but concedes his life has been made difficult by an awkward box draw for tonight’s Sandown Cup final. With the main fancies drawn around him — Vintage Octane (5), Headley Bale (7) and Mantra Lad (8)—Sirocco Hero doesn’t havemuchroom for error from box six. ‘‘It’s just such a strong race. Mantra Lad is drawn on the outside, which will suit him perfectly, and the five Vintage Octane likes to use up a lot of the track so I amconcerned by the draw’’, Vassallo said. Vassallo will have plenty of adrenalin pumping through his body come race time, but knows that’s why he is involved in the sport. ‘‘They’ll definitely be a few nerves come race time, you wouldn’t be human if there wasn’t and that’s why you get involved in the industry’’, Vassallo said. ‘‘Obviously, it would be a huge thrill to win a race of this magnitude. There are some great dogs in the race but I know how big the task is and how much depth there is.’’ Sirocco Hero was a big firmer in the betting before heat two of the Sandown Cup last Thursday with punters backing him from $13 into $4.10. And they were never in danger of losing their money as the multiple Group-race finalist reined in early leader Natalie Rass before racing away to a six-length length win in 42.37sec. It was Sirocco Hero’s first ‘‘half-mile’’ run since his close-up fourth in the Group 1 Galaxy in March and it gave owners Martin and Fiona Hallinan their second cup finalist. ‘‘It’s great for the owners and we’re just going into the race (tonight) hoping rather than expect- ing and we’ll see what happens from there’’, Vassallo said. breaking barrier THESandownCupis not the only major attraction at Sandowntonight where El Galo can race into the history books with victory in the515mDave Hodgson Memorial. El Galo willjumpfrom box six in race No. 6 and a win will take his earnings to morethan$500,000. El Galo has collected $492,585 in prizemoney, second overall behind Rapid Journey’s $530,995. El Galo’s trainer Jason Thompsonhas put any thoughts of retiring his championon hold. ‘‘After tonight he’ll have two weeks off and be back toSandownfor anewrace they’ve got called the Dawson,’’Thompsonsaid. Thompsonsaid as long as El Galo was running well, there is no reason to stop racing him. El Galo is the Australian Greyhound of the Year, but Thompsonsaid he is not the best greyhound he has trained. ‘‘Brett Lee is the benchmark, El Galo is on the next level,’’ he said. ‘‘I’m just delighted and so + lucky to have had a minor involvement with Brett Lee (he trained the champion late in his career) and the major involvement with El Galo that I do,’’ he said. El Galo close to Vintage cup ye Nick Quinn DEANE Lester is arguably Australia’s most followed horse- racing tipster, so it may come as a surprise that the ‘‘Dean Of Form’’ — as he is known in the industry — is one of three lucky owners in Sandown Cup fancy Vintage Octane. But it isn’t beginner’s luck for Lester, whose involvement in grey- hound racing dates back to when he was a starry-eyed schoolboy hanging around the Cranbourne greyhound track. ‘‘When I was young I wanted to buy a horse but I couldn’t afford it, so I bought into a greyhound, which is not nearly as taxing on the finances,’’ Lester said. ‘‘I spent many afternoons after school at the dog track when I probably should have been study- ing.’’ For years Lester’s good friend and former Western Bulldogs player Mark Hunter, who raced one of the all-time greats of greyhound racing, Pure Octane, had tried to get Lester Gallops guru develops taste for the chasers to buy into a greyhound with him. ‘‘I bought into two from a litter that Pure Octane sired, one was no good and never made it to the track and the other one was Vintage Octane,’’ Lester said. Lester said he loved going to the greyhounds because when it came to the dogs’ form he took the ‘‘ignor- ance is bliss’’ approach. ‘‘It’s great going to a night at the dogs as I am not expected to know anything,’’ he said. ‘‘When I go to the races it is quite stressful as people are always want- ing tips, and due to the profession I’m in I’m expected to be on top of everything, so it’s a lovely change going to the dogs.’’ Vintage Octane reached tonight’s Sandown Cup final after stalking and running down race-favourite Lady Moscato in last Thursday’s heat at Sandown. Lester was thrilled with Vintage Octane’s performance after conced- ing that he feared he would be a run short going into the race. ‘‘We knew that no matter what happened last Thursday the run would bring him into peak fitness, so when he loomed up to Lady Moscato on the turn I thought that his lack of race fitness might show over the concluding stages, but to my surprise and delight he was too strong over the concluding stages.’’ The fact Pure Octane is contesting tonight’s Sandown Cup is a credit to trainer Darren McDonald, who earmarked the feature race after an impressive Sale Cup triumph in December. ‘‘After the Sale Cup win we asked Darren where the dog might head,’’ Lester said. ‘‘He took him to Perth for a few runs, which has really helped him Less stress: Deane Lester mature into a big, strong chaser and the aim was always the Sandown Cup, so it is testimony to his trainin ability that we have him runnin around tonight. ‘‘It’s a great thrill to have a runne in such a big race.’’ Lester said come race time ther was quite a different feeling between the gallops and the greyhounds. ‘‘I feel quite helpless in the tim leading up to the race,’’ he said.
May 13th 2009
May 15th 2009