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Rambo raids Sandown Cup riches

The sensationally-backed distance newcomer Zipping Rambo completed a meteoric rise to staying stardom when winning the Group 1 RSN Sandown Cup (715m) on Thursday night.

Trained by Mark Delbridge, Zipping Rambo, which was having only the third ‘700’ of his career in the world’s richest staying race, was initially installed as a $12 chance following the box draw but was heavily supported into $4 at box-rise.

A son of Mister Twister and Zipping Maggie, a multiple Group-winning stayer and a finalist in the 2015 Sandown Cup, Zipping Rambo had finished second in his two previous 715m assignments, including a 1.5 length heat defeat at the hands of NSW star Stanley Road.

Drawn in box four, Zipping Rambo was the second elect, with Western Australian Zack Monelli the $2.50 favourite from box one and Stanley Road at $5 from box six.

As was the case in their heat encounter, Zack Monelli was headed off by another promising Victorian staying rookie in Tyler Durden ($7.50), while Zipping Rambo also began well and settled in third.

Zipping Rambo passed Zack Monelli in the back and railed to the front in the home straight, turning the tables on the fast-finishing Stanley Road from seven nights earlier as he scored by 1.6 lengths in 41.72sec, with Tyler Durden holding third place.

“I feel a bit wobbly on my feet but I’m happy for me, my wife and the owner Gary Black,” a delighted Mark Delbridge told Sandown GRC’s Jason Adams.

“His two runs over the ‘700’ have been good. He didn’t get checked between the 595m and 500m boxes, which I was happy about, he wasn’t far off the leader and he did the rest.

“He’s FFA over 595m and 600m so I didn’t really have any choice about stepping him up. He was either going to run 700m or he wasn’t.”

Zipping Rambo answered any distance doubts in spectacular fashion and has now won 15 of his 30 starts, with the $175,000 winner’s purse sending his prize money tally spiralling to a tick under $245,000.

“I’ve known Mark and Lisa for years and it’s great to share it with them.”

Zipping Rambo was bred by renowned NSW breeders Martin and Fiona Hallinan, who raced the 2009 Sandown Cup winner Mantra Lad, which was trained by Graeme Jose.

After starting his career in NSW, Zipping Rambo was purchased by Gary Black, a long-time supporter of the Delbridges, and made an almost immediate impression when running 29.75sec at The Meadows at his fourth start in Victoria.

He then embarked on a sensational run of middle distance form that included a breathtaking 33.66sec victory over 595m at Sandown on April 8, just .03sec outside Dyna Double One’s course record.

“He’s had 11 wins in 20-odd starts for us,” said Lisa Delbridge.

“Gary has been a big supporter of ours. We’ve known him for a very long time and he’s not afraid to put his money back into the industry and buy good-priced dogs.”

“Fantastic. The best thrill I’ve ever had,” said Black.

“I’ve known Mark and Lisa for years and it’s great to share it with them.”

It’s likely Zipping Rambo will drop back to 595m when he returns to Sandown for next Wednesday’s keenly anticipated Speed Star series.

There were also five support features staged on Thursday night’s program, highlighted by the GR8 Eight Series (515m) and Listed Cup Night Stayers (715m) – both carrying a $15,000 first prize.

The “Queen of the Sand” – as race caller James Van de Maat exclaimed – won the first instalment of the GR8 Eight Series for 2021.

He was, of course, referring to the Andrea Dailly-trained Qwara Bale (Box 4), who registered her fifth straight win. She’s won 14 races from 23 starts and already has the G1 Sapphire Crown and G2 Warrnambool Cup on the mantelpiece.

Qwara Bale ($1.80F) strolled to an effortless 29.17sec victory and is undefeated in five starts over 515m at Sandown Park.

Photos by Clint Anderson

“She’s a freak this dog and she did it easy tonight… It’s an exciting future,” handler Joshua Formosa said.

The GR8 Eight Series special events are an initiative GRV introduced last year. They were specifically created to provide opportunities for Victoria’s top-class greyhounds to race for above-average prizemoney in a climate where there were travelling restrictions and changes to Australia’s group racing calendar due to COVID-19.

Highly underrated stayer Hank The Hustler (Box 3) was a ‘swindler’ in the Cup Night Stayers, after putting the writing on the wall with an unlucky third to NSW staying sensation Stanley Road in a G1 Sandown Cup heat last week.

Trained by Jeff Britton, Hank The Hustler ($2.40F) controlled the race before staving off a gallant Five Star ($6.90) by almost three-quarters of a length in 41.59sec.

Hank The Hustler notched his fifth win from his past eight starts and his fourth from seven over this track/distance.

“He was super tonight; he’s a real quick dog…. Jeff will be very happy,” said a Britton kennel representative.

Meanwhile, the aptly named Eat My Dust (Box 1), who was well supported late in betting, stamped himself as a star of the future in the $12,000 to-the-winner GRV Vic Bred Maiden final (515m).

Trained by John Barbara, Eat My Dust ($2.10F) – who is only 18 months old – left his rivals in his wake, ‘kicking up loam’ in 29.57sec.

He was only third in a heat and fourth in a semi-final, but according to Barbara had been “trialling the house down”.

The $6540 to-the-winner Cranbourne To Sandown final (515m) was ‘plain sailing’ for potential megastar Aston Fastnet (Box 2).

Prepared by Jason Thompson, Aston Fastnet ($1.20F) deployed his ‘spinnaker’ and was at ‘full mast’ clocking a near six-length win in a flying 29.18sec – only one length off his 29.11sec PB. It was his sixth win from only 14 starts.

“We’ll try and get him up to Queensland for the Flying Amy heats,” an elated Thompson said.

Aston Fastnet is a litter brother of G3 Launching Pad runner-up Aston Rupee, who tops the G3 Speed Star standings after posting a mind-boggling 28.93sec on Sunday – the fastest ever trial at Sandown Park.

The $6540 to-the-winner Judy Hayley Memorial final (515m) – open to lady trainers only – was taken out by the Dianne O’Neill-trained Slick Intention (Box 2), who staged a battle royal with Aston Glow (Box 1).

Aston Glow ($1.90F) led early with Slick Intention ($5.40) in hot pursuit, but it was the latter who prevailed by a quarter of a length in 29.89sec. He notched his sixth win from 33 starts.

“It’s a great honour to win this race,” an emotional O’Neill said.

The race is named in honour of the 2001 Melbourne Cup winning trainer who lost her brave battle with cancer in 2012.

The content on this page was accurate at the time of publishing. If you notice any inaccurate content on this page or anywhere on the website, please report it here

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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