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Shootout: What the trainers say

Let’s all walk 10 paces and draw a huge breath… This is going to be bigger than the Gunfight at the OK Corral.

So, who will show True Grit in the $25,000 winner-takes-all Group 3 Shootout (515m) – Race 4, 8.07pm – at Sandown Park on Thursday night?

Prepared at Devon Meadows by Glenn Rounds, Aston Rupee (Box 3) is the sport’s sharpshooter. But will he be fastest to the draw in a four-dog face-off that would have Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday itching at their holsters?

Rated Australia’s No. 1 speedster, Aston Rupee rid himself of G1 bridesmaid status with a stunning Topgun victory – defeating Tiggerlong Tonk – last weekend.

He’s won six of his past seven starts and established a new Sandown Park 515m track record with a phenomenal 28.79sec display on September 9. In fact, he holds the two fastest times ever recorded at the Lightwood Road venue after posting 28.89sec on October 28. (Rounds and late partner Judy Hayley won the 2001 Shootout with Junior Whisky.)

Aston Rupee is TAB’s $1.40 favourite, but he’ll need to come out with all guns blazing to defeat reigning Shootout champ Tiggerlong Tonk (Box 7).

His young Anakie trainer Correy Grenfell, 27, is aiming for a third Shootout in the past four years, having won with Orson Allen in 2018.

Tiggerlonk Tonk – as a $6.50 outsider – clocked a race record 29.03sec accounting for retired stars Shima Shine, Christo Bale and Hard Style Rico in last year’s showdown. Amazingly, he’s quoted at $5.50 to defend his title.

And let’s not forget the other two gunslingers in this classic confrontation – Lakeview Walter (Box 1) and McCooly’s Lad (Box 5) – who are $8 and $6.50 respectively to grab the revered bounty.

Trained at Metung by Monique Whelan, Lakeview Walter – a last start winner of the G3 Silver Bullet – boasts a 29.15sec PB at Sandown Park.

Meanwhile, Rowsley’s Anthony Azzopardi has a real drawcard in McCooly’s Lad. His career has been interrupted by injury, but he’s registered a flying 29.09sec PB at Sandown Park. (Azzopardi won the 2016 Shootout with Zambora Brockie.)

Since its inception in 1998, the Shootout has been an intriguing contest and the 24th edition is no exception.

Here’s a ‘tale of the tape’ on the quartet, along with their trainer’s thoughts on the race.

Box 1 – LAKEVIEW WALTER (Apr ’19 Fernando Bale x Lakeview Maisey)
Overall starts: 27 (10-6-5)

Sandown Park 515m starts: 12 (5-4-2)
Box 1 starts: 4 (3-0-0)

Best time: 29.15sec
Stakes: $207,939

Career highlights: Won – G1 Silver Chief, G3 Silver Bullet, G3 The Ambrosoli; Finalist – G1 Harrison-Dawson, G1 Temlee

“He’s not the fastest out of the traps, so the ‘red’ definitely suits… Having the inside draw makes a big difference… We’ve taken him along quietly due to a wrist issue… I know he’s got the ‘motor’ late in the race… He’s a smart race dog, and I think it’s anyone’s race.” – Monique Whelan     

Box 3 – ASTON RUPEE (Apr ’19 KC And All x Aston Miley)
Overall starts: 30 (17-7-4)

Sandown Park 515m starts: 11 (6-3-1)
Box 3 starts: 4 (4-0-0)

Best time: 28.79sec TR
Stakes: $345,750

Career highlights: Won – G1 Topgun, G3 Speed Star (The Meadows), G3 Speed Star (Sandown Park); Runner-up – G3 Launching Pad; Finalist – G1 Adelaide Cup
“You can’t win these races if you don’t begin… If you miss the kick, you are history… I think all three of his rivals are dangers… We’re very happy with him; he’s jumping out of his skin and has really come into his prime.” – Glenn Rounds    

Box 5 – MCCOOLY’S LAD (Feb ’19 Fernando Bale x Tatty Fields)
Overall starts: 13 (8-2-0)

Sandown Park 515m starts: 7 (4-0-0)
Box 5 starts: 2 (1-0-0)
Best time: 29.09sec
Stakes: $38,700
Career highlights: Won – GRV Vic Bred Series (1-4 Wins) – Sandown Park (29.09sec), GRV Vic Bred Series Grade 5 – Horsham (26.95sec), GRV Vic Bred Series Maiden – Bendigo (27.90sec); Also – 29.11sec & 29.14sec wins at Sandown Park
“It’s a privilege to be in the race but we’re not expecting any result… We’re up against the fastest dog in the country and we’re going there for a run to get him ready for the Melbourne Cup heats next week… McCooly’s Lad has got to be in front to be any chance of winning… You’re not going to run down Aston Rupee… Aston Rupee is going to get room in the four-dog field, but if he’s only three-quarters in front of McCooly’s Lad my bloke will chop him off and if he got the fly, he could be off and gone.” – Anthony Azzopardi

Box 7 – TIGGERLONG TONK (Feb ’18 Dyna Double One x Tiggerlong Dot)
Overall starts: 93 (42-23-11)

Sandown Park 515m starts: 30 (13-7-3)
Box 7 starts: 8 (3-1-1)

Best time: 29.03sec
Stakes: $766,440
Career highlights: Won – G1 Harrison-Dawson, G1 Perth Cup, G2 Horsham Cup, G3 Shootout, G3 Easter Gift; Runner-up – G1 Topgun, G1 Hobart Thousand, G2 Bendigo Cup, G2 Healesville Cup, G3 Speed Star (The Meadows); Contested – 23 Group finals, including 12 G1s
“I definitely think he can retain his Shootout crown… Sandown is ‘Tonk’s’ home track; he loves the joint… I think he’s capable of leading… And he’ll need to lead as I don’t think he could run down Aston Rupee, who is obviously the one to beat… However, you can’t knock dogs the calibre of Lakeview Walter and McCooly’s Lad.” – Correy Grenfell

Pawnote: The ‘fab four’ has amassed 77 wins from 163 starts (47% strike rate) and accumulated stakes of almost $1.36 million.

WATCH: Aston Rupee (3) ‘shoots the lights out’, setting a new Sandown Park 515m TR (28.79sec) on September 9.

SHOOTOUT – HONOUR ROLL

  • 1998 Reggemite
  • 1999 Great Wish
  • 2000 Go Wild Teddy
  • 2001 Junior Whisky
  • 2002 Silver Saul
  • 2003 Bombastic Shiraz
  • 2004 Whisky Assassin
  • 2005 Bond
  • 2006 Jaimandy Coops
  • 2007 Cool Effort
  • 2008 Mantra Lad
  • 2009 Velocette
  • 2010 Cosmic Chief
  • 2011 Bekim Bale
  • 2012 Proven Nitro
  • 2013 Xylia Allen
  • 2014 Iva Vision
  • 2015 Kayda Shae
  • 2016 Zambora Brockie
  • 2018 (Jan) Aston Dee Bee
  • 2018 (Nov) Orson Allen
  • 2019 Hooked On Scotch
  • 2020 Tiggerlong Tonk

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 Peter Quilty - Has more than three decades of experience as assistant editor of Victorian Greyhound Weekly. He was editor of GRV monthly magazine The Adviser (2001-09) and owner/publisher of Australian Greyhound Monthly. He also served on the selection panel for the inaugural GRV ‘Hall of Fame’ inductees and for several years was an adjudicator on the Victorian GOTY. He’s also published greyhound racing yearbooks and wrote the ‘Bold Trease’ video script.
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