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The Best Since Brett Lee – But Is Fernando Better?

Superstar Fernando Bale is set to take another step along the path to greatness in Saturday night’s Group 1 Peter Mosman Classic (520m) at Wentworth Park.

Andrea Dailly’s freakishly talented speedster will be chasing his fourth Group 1 victory for the year in the Peter Mosman, having also won the Golden Easter Egg and National Derby in Sydney and the Harrison-Dawson at Sandown Park.

In winning 20 of his 25 starts – the last 12 in succession – Fernando Bale has earned comparisons with the finest sprinters Australian greyhound racing has seen, being widely labelled as the best since the immortal Brett Lee in the early 2000s.

And with due respect to the likes of Bombastic Shiraz and El Grand Senor and champion females Bogie Leigh, Cindeen Shelby and Paua To Burn it’s very hard to argue with that assessment.

But is Fernando Bale better than Brett Lee?

Comparing champions of different eras in any sport is always an unenviable task – and that’s certainly the case with greyhound racing with different track conditions, training methods and ever-escalating prizemoney levels – but for fear of being accused of getting ‘splinters’ I’ll say not yet.

However the gap is closing with each week.

Fernando Bale is as close as you’d see to a perfect racing machine – faultless box manners, blinding early speed, record-breaking sectionals and scintillating overall times.

But while the modern day superstar’s feats are fresh in the greyhound racing public’s consciousness, Brett Lee had all the same attributes – with interest.

“While Fernando Bale’s feats are fresh in the greyhound racing public’s consciousness, Brett Lee had all the same attributes – with interest.”

One of my first duties for The Greyhound Recorder was covering the 2001 Golden Easter Egg and I still recall being told in no uncertain terms by several ‘good judges’ that Brett Lee wouldn’t be able to cross from box eight.

Like everyone else in the massive crowd I was left in awe as Brett Lee exploded out of the boxes and had the race won at the winning post the first time. In almost identical fashion to the way Fernando Bale won this year’s Golden Easter Egg from the pink.

Brett Lee’s stunning Golden Easter Egg triumph was part of a sensational 12-race winning streak that included four Group 1 victories – in order the Adelaide Cup, Australian Cup, Maturity Classic and Golden Easter Egg.

After winning the Golden Easter Egg, Brett Lee had won 24 of his 28 starts (he retired having won 30 from 38), very similar to Fernando Bale’s current record of 20 from 25.

While precious little separates Brett Lee and Fernando Bale in terms of Group 1 and overall wins at a similar stage of their careers, Brett Lee broke seven track records, while Fernando Bale doesn’t yet have a track record on his resume.

After breaking the Horsham record at his third start, Brett Lee went on to establish records at Ballarat, Geelong, The Meadows, Shepparton, Warragul and most famously Angle Park where his mind-blowing ‘world record’ 28.88 will almost certainly never be broken.

Victory in the Peter Mosman on Saturday night – and as the TAB’s Fixed Odds price of $1.25 suggests the Classic appears to be at Fernando Bale’s mercy – will see him equal Brett Lee’s tally of four Group 1 victories.

And provided Fernando Bale stays sound – and owner/breeder Paul Wheeler continues to resist the ever-growing temptation of what will most assuredly be a lucrative stud career with him being a son of US sire Kelsos Fusileer – the sky appears to be the limit over the next six months.
Wentworth Park Formguide: Click Here

Peter Mosman Semi Final Replays

SEMI 1: Fernando Bale (6) defeats Kenju Bale (5) in 29.47sec
SEMI 2: Dyna Double One (6) defeats Camacho (5) in 29.54sec
SEMI 3: Elfen Bale (2) defeats Dear Darcey (1) in 29.86sec
SEMI 4: Tullabung Honey (1) defeats No Donuts (3) in 29.91sec

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About Gerard Guthrie - One of Australia's leading greyhound racing journalists since 2000 with the Greyhound Recorder and now with Greyhound Racing Victoria. Part-owner 2013 Group 1 Paws Of Thunder winner Sheikha. (The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of GRV)
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