Trainer Darren Russell is hoping to take the TAB Topgun Stayers title back to Queensland for the second year running with his greyhound Bago Bye Bye.
Ray Burman’s Champagne Sally claimed the title last year.
Spending 4½ months on the sidelines may seem a less than-ideal lead-in, but it does not worry Russell, who insists his greyhound’s preparation for the $108,000 TAB Topgun Stayers (725m) — a race elevated to Group 1 status this year — is close to ideal.
Bago Bye Bye had a chip in his hock removed following a third placing to Tornado Tears in the Group 3 Super Stayers at Albion Park in June, which was his most recent start.
“He was on the walker 10 days after surgery, so he didn’t miss a lot of work,” Russell said.
Bago Bye Bye has drawn box four in the Topgun Stayers, which has seen his odds drift from $2.80 pre-box draw equal favourite to $3.50, with money going towards champion Tornado Tears.
“He is in the race,” Russell said.
“Bago Bye Bye is trialling fast and he is fit, but the only question mark will be his last 50 metres.”
In preparation for his return to the track, Bago Bye Bye went within a length of the 600m Albion Park track record.
“Bago Bye Bye won’t need a look at The Meadows because he has already been around the track a couple of times during the Australian Cup Carnival — plus he doesn’t like the cold weather, so we are best staying in Queensland for as long as possible,” Russell said.
It’s been three starts since four-time Group 1 winner Tornado Tears has been in the winner’s circle. He was defeated in a 680m feature at Geelong on October 25, and ran fourth in the Group 3 Sydney Cup heats and fifth in the Group 3 Top Cat Video Cup at The Meadows.
Tornado Tears may not have the recent form on the board, but as TAB punters obviously believe, you can never discredit a champion. They have backed Tornado Tears into $2.50 favouritism after he drew ideally in box two.