Eight sensational heats of the Group 1 TAB Melbourne Cup (515m) will be held at Sandown Park on Friday night, and one greyhound that must be respected is Blue Striker.
Trainer Peter Akathiotis is quietly confident about the chances his up-and-coming star, who boasts a scintillating 29.20sec PB at Sandown, the fastest among the eight contenders in his heat.
“The good thing about box eight is that he will have room early and can create his own luck. I think he will either be leading or sitting second early behind Emerald Rainbow early, and if that’s the case he should prove hard to beat,” Akathiotis said.
Blue Striker is on the third line of betting behind West On Augie ($3.60Fav) and Dyna Hunter ($3.70), while he is currently priced at $21 to win next Friday’s $630,000 final.
Akathiotis won the Melbourne Cup in 1992, and while he says Blue Striker has marginally more ability than his Cup hero Master Giant, he said the race is a lot harder to win these days.
“Back in those days there were probably about 15-20 greyhounds around Australia that you would call genuine Group 1 dogs, but today there’s about 50 of them,” he said.
Akathiotis said Blue Striker is in prime condition after overcoming a toe injury, and described his greyhound as a “good all round package”.
“He has a very good first section, second section and run-home time. None of his sections are absolutely outstanding, but I see that as an advantage because generally if a greyhound has a brilliant first section, for instance, they tire at the end of their races. Or if they are super strong at the finish they are generally slow early,” he said.
Sandown will also host four heats of the $150,000 Group 1 Bold Trease (715m) on Friday night, with TAB offering $2,500 jackpots on the First 4s in every race.
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WATCH: Blue Striker wins a Free For All at The Meadows on 20 October in 29.97sec.