After a high profile ‘swap’ of kennel stars, Victorian trainer Lyn Smith and prolific West Australian mentor David Hobby are chasing feature race success this week on both sides of the continent with each other’s greyhounds.
In a quid pro quo scenario, Smith has sent Saturday night’s Group 2 WA Derby contender Earn The Answers to Hobby and received G1 Sandown Cup favourite Zack Monelli and star sprinter Sunset Spitfire in return.
“Lyn came over and stayed here for the Oaks a few years ago with Evie’s Entity and I’ve stayed with her a few times when I’ve gone to Victoria,” Hobby explained.
After venturing west, Earn The Answers, runner-up in the G3 Great Chase and a G1 Silver Chief finalist, first contested the Listed Mandurah Derby, winning his heat and running second in the final, before tackling last weekend’s WA Derby heats.
Best known as a frontrunner, Earn The Answers ($1.70) was caught three-wide from box eight on the first corner but in a gutsy display he raced clear in the home straight, scoring by 3.5 lengths in 30.05sec, his ninth win from 25 starts.
In addition to his ‘caretaker’ role with Earn The Answers, Hobby has another two finalists in fastest heat winner Stout Monelli (29.51sec) and placegetter Cooper’s Monelli.
“Earn The Answers’ heat win was a good, tough run,” Hobby said.
“That was the first time he’s come from behind in a race and passed another dog.
“He’ll need to begin out of the ‘six’ in the final. When he jumps he does have early pace. Speed is his asset and he needs to use it.
“He missed the start in the Mandurah Derby final and that probably cost him winning the race.
“Stout Monelli went super. It was his best time at Cannington, the best of the heats and the best of the night so I can’t complain.
WATCH: Victorian speedster Earn The Answers (8) “went bang” in a G2 WA Derby heat at Cannington last week.
“He’s won a lot of races for a young dog (13 from 23) and he’s a good railer so he’s drawn where he needs to be. It’s good to draw the ‘red’ with a dog that wants it.
“Cooper’s Monelli is a strong dog but doesn’t have a lot of early pace and I don’t expect him to figure in the finish.”
Earn The Answers is one of two Victorians in the Derby decider, with David Burnett’s Envy To Burn also advancing after finishing second in his heat.
While Earn The Answers headed to WA, Hobby sent recent G1 Galaxy winner Zack Monelli and Sunset Spitfire in the opposite direction to target the Sandown Cup and G1 Harrison-Dawson respectively and met with mixed fortunes last Thursday night.
Zack Monelli confirmed Sandown Cup favouritism with a dominant all-the-way 41.49sec victory; however Sunset Spitfire was injured when unplaced behind Tiggerlong Tonk in a Harrison-Dawson heat and has returned home.
Boasting 27 wins from 50 starts, Zack Monelli will return to Sandown on Thursday where he’s $1.35 favourite from box one in the second of four Cup heats, while he heads the ‘All In’ market at $2.50.
“Zack Monelli went super, as usual,” Hobby said.
“He went a bit better than I expected because he hadn’t seen the ‘700’ boxes before. That was probably the best he’s begun in a long time.
“Sunset Spitfire completely pulled a toenail out and he’s coming back here tonight (Monday). I was hoping to take him up to Queensland for the Flying Amy, but a toenail normally takes a good three weeks to heal so I’ll just have to see how quickly he comes to hand.”
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