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Hustler plots Fireball ‘Fix’

Jeff Britton looms as a key player in Saturday night’s bumper meeting at The Meadows, chasing a third victory in the G1 KCR Pet Transport Maturity Classic (525m) with Mr. Fix It and boasting the favourite for the G3 Destini Lodge Fireball (725m) in Hank The Hustler.

Ideally drawn in box one, Hank The Hustler is TAB’s $3.30 Fireball favourite, despite being beaten by staying novice Whatever I Say in last weekend’s heats.

A superbly bred son of Fernando Bale and Oakvale Destiny, which Britton guided to G1 glory in the 2014 Sapphire Crown, Hank The Hustler has been performing consistently over ‘700’.

However, he’s won just one from eight starts at The Meadows over all three distances, compared to five from nine over Sandown’s 715m course, highlighted by the Listed Cup Night Stayers on Sandown Cup night.

But balancing the ledger, he’s won four from five out of the ‘red’.

“I think he does go better at Sandown but he has trialled well at The Meadows,” said Britton’s partner and fellow trainer Angela Langton.

“We were happy with his heat run. The winner just got too big a break and hopefully from box one this week he’ll be able to be closer to the front.

“He’s a good little stayer and I think it’s a very winnable race.”

In contrast to Hank The Hustler, Britton’s Maturity contender Mr. Fix It has an excellent record at The Meadows, having won nine from 16 over 525m, with four seconds and an impressive 29.75sec PB in the Australian Cup Consolation.

Mr. Fix It, $8 in TAB’s market, will exit box five for the first time in his career, but he’s shown an affinity for middle draws in winning 15 of his 37 career starts.

The son of 2015 Maturity hero Fernando Bale and Alpha Demeter has won seven from nine from box four, including last week’s heat victory where he staved off litter brother and kennelmate Do It, the $2.10 favourite, in 30.09sec.

“It was unfortunate Mr. Fix It and Do It drew each other because they were two of our best chances and only one could qualify,” Langton said.

WATCH: G3 Fireball favourite Hank The Hustler (3) wins the Listed Cup Night Stayers (715m) on Sandown Cup night.

“Do It is definitely the faster dog – he’s probably four or five lengths quicker – but he’s not a great beginner and he finds trouble in his races so I’d rather have Mr. Fix It in the race.

“Mr. Fix It loves The Meadows. He does go very well there.

“He was a bit unlucky not to make the Australian Cup final and then he went faster in the Consolation than they went in the Cup. I think he deserves to win a good race.

“He does seem to like middle boxes so I don’t think he’s badly boxed. The only problem could be David Geall’s dog in box 4 (Fernando Mick) because it likes to get off a bit but hopefully Mr. Fix It is in front of him.

“We’re hoping he can jump and lead. He’s quite capable of winning. I think Mr. Fix It and Hank The Hustler are both winning chances.”

Britton’s previous Maturity victories came with Mepunga Hayley in 2014 and Mepunga Blazer in 2017.

It will be a real family celebration if Mr. Fix It wins the Maturity as he’s raced by the Maintenance Man syndicate, comprising Langton’s father Morgan Smith and close friend Stan Bauer – ‘Mr. Fix It’ himself!

“If something goes wrong, I’m on the phone to Stan straight away – he can fix anything!” said Langton said.

“He’s done so much work for us and when our son Nicholas was younger, he used to call Stan ‘the man who fixes things’, so the dog is very well-named.”

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Gerard Guthrie
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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