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Delbridge counting on Christo’s strength

Mark Delbridge says Christo Bale’s chances in Saturday’s Group 1 KCR Pet Transport Maturity Classic (525m) hinge on the powerhouse chaser being close enough to finish over the top of superstar Simon Told Helen.

After a barnstorming 29.73s heat victory, Christo Bale is on the third line of TAB betting at $5, behind $2.10 favourite Simon Told Helen and fastest qualifier Hard Style Rico at $2.70.

“Christo Bale has by far the strongest run-home time in the race and if he’s within two or three lengths of them I can’t see why he can’t run them down,” said Delbridge.

“If he’s close enough it’s just a matter of whether he’s good enough.”

The in-form Christo Bale, a son of 2012 Maturity winner Barcia Bale, will be chasing back-to-back feature victories, after taking out the middle distance Group 2 McKenna Memorial (595m) at Sandown Park earlier this month.

The drop back to 525m for the Maturity heats proved to be absolutely no concern as the $1.40 hot pot careered away from leader You Tell Me in the home straight to claim his 13th win from 27 starts and sixth from 13 at The Meadows.

WATCH: Christo Bale win his heat from box two.

“I wasn’t really planning on running him over the 600m; it just worked out that way,” Delbridge explained.

“The Maturity is a good race for him because it’s age-restricted and he’s one of the oldest ones.

“When he made the Silver Chief Final earlier in the year he’d only had eight or nine starts but he knows what he’s doing now.”

As Delbridge eluded, Christo Bale will be striving to turn the tables on Silver Chief hero Simon Told Helen in the Maturity, as will Hard Style Rico and Tiggerlong Tonk, and Delbridge is optimistic a suitable draw in two is a massive boost to his prospects.

“He drew box five in the Silver Chief and if he’d drawn five, six, seven or eight on Saturday I probably would’ve said I had no hope,” Delbridge said.

“But I’m happy with box two. He’s drawn where he wants to be.

“He can’t run the 17.40s or 17.50s up the back that Simon Told Helen and Hard Style Rico ran in their heats but he broke 12 seconds running home. I’m hoping he’s sitting right on their hammer.”

There’s an excellent chance Christo Bale could add a second Group 1 trophy to their mantelpiece, on Saturday, although it’s unlikely Delbridge’s greyhound racing silverware will ever rival his prized Tonka truck collection.

“I’ve been collecting Tonka trucks since 2005,” Delbridge said.

“I’ve probably got about 3,500. I’m only guessing but they fill two rooms. When I started collecting them I didn’t realise there were so many!” he added with a laugh.

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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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