Gippsland trainer Ken Virtue is no stranger to the TAB Melbourne Cup, but Friday night’s heats present a brand new experience for his greyhound Banjo Bewdy, who has never competed at group level before.
A winner of six races from 13 starts, Banjo Bewdy earned a spot in the heats with an encouraging runner-up performance in a TAB Melbourne Cup Prelude last month.
Bred and owned in NSW by Ron Steel and Andrew Varasdi respectively, the Magic Sprite and Mary Lou Cargo greyhound will line up in Race 12 at Sandown Park on Friday night jumping from Box 1, in what is the eighth and final Cup heat.
“Her form is good and although she has never drawn Box 1 before, I think she will be suited by it,” said the Tooradin based Virtue, who has targetted the Melbourne Cup with Banjo Bewdy since September.
Virtue, whose former superstar greyhound Banjo Boy (also owned by Varasdi) competed in a Melbourne Cup heats in 2014, said that he is surprised to have a greyhound compete in the world’s richest greyhound series again so soon.
“This is a bonus. I didn’t expect to be here again so quickly, but this was not a big decision. She has earned her opportunity,” he said.
“She needs to go straight to the front and have a bit of luck. She is a reliable beginner. She is very good throughout the (first) turn and she is quite prepared to hold her ground,” Virtue said.
“She has a lot of early pace and there are some abilities that she has that people haven’t seen yet.”
With a first prize in the Melbourne Cup final worth $420,000, Virtue will be hoping Banjo Bewdy can live up to her full potential for the remainder of the series.
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This article was written by Bonnie Chignell.
Bonnie Chignell is a Gippsland girl with a lifetime experience in greyhound racing having been born into the industry. She is a Race Starter and Qualified Judge at the Traralgon Greyhound Club, and is also a hobby greyhound trainer. (Disclaimer: The views in this article are that of the author and not necessarily that of GRV).
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