The introduction of new feature race ‘The Horizon’ (440m) has paid off handsomely for Sale Greyhound Racing Club with a Group-quality field, headlined by G2 Ballarat and G2 Shepparton Cups hero Ferdinand Boy, to battle out the inaugural final.
Four heats of ‘The Horizon’, which offers a $25,000 winner’s purse, were held on Sunday evening and Ferdinand Boy, trained by David Geall, produced the standout performance at his Sale debut.
Drawn in box three in the third heat, Ferdinand Boy started $1.80 favourite ahead of Jason Thompson’s Aussie Secret, which was unbeaten in four appearances at Sale, at $2.60.
Ferdinand Boy won the critical early speed battle and try as he might Aussie Secret wasn’t able to reel him in as Ferdinand Boy led all-the-way in a best of night 24.60sec, his 21st win from 37 starts and eighth from his last 11.
The well-bred son of Fernando Bale and Nayla Swift, a half-sister to Geall’s two-time G1 winner Up Hill Jill, is set to start favourite in the final after drawing box two.
The first of the four heats saw Dream Wizard, prepared by Sean Lithgow, dominate betting, exiting box one at $1.50, but the G2 Ballarat, G2 Warrnambool and G2 Warragul Cups finalist was headed off early by Zipping Zarbo ($3.90).
WATCH: Dual country cups winner Ferdinand Boy (3) clocks the fastest qualifying time (24.60sec) yesterday in a heat of ‘The Horizon’ at Sale.
In a thrilling drive to the line, Dream Wizard railed to the front in the home straight but was run down in the final strides by track specialist Omega Dodge ($8.10), trained by Barry Harper at nearby Seaspray, in 24.76sec.
It was Omega Dodge’s eighth win at start 31, with all his victories coming over Sale’s 440m course.
Heat two went according to script with the ultra-consistent Papi Go Fast, sent out $2.30 favourite from box three, and leading throughout in 24.83sec for Rob Camilleri, defeating $3.60 second elect Dr. Madison, trained by William McMahon, by 2.9 lengths.
Papi Go Fast has now won 20 of his 36 starts, including two from two at Sale, incredibly missing a place only twice.
After qualifying Dr. Madison for the decider, William McMahon was fancied to add a second finalist in the fourth heat, where G3 Great Chase winner Dr. Tucker, a litter brother to Dr. Madison, headed betting at $1.70 from box seven.
After getting the better of early leader Run Baba Run ($13.50), Dr. Tucker was forced to pull out all stops to edge out the game Massimo ($13.70), also locally trained by Dawn Johnston, in 24.83sec.
Dr. Tucker has now won three in a row since returning from five months on the sidelines due to a hock injury and an impressive 12 from 20 overall but will have to contend with box eight in what shapes as a memorable initial running of ‘The Horizon’.
HEAT WINNERS (Fastest to slowest)
- 24.60sec Ferdinand Boy
- 24.76sec Omega Dodge
- 24.83sec Papi Go Fast
- 24.83sec Dr. Tucker
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