• Wednesday, 30 Mar, 2022,
  • by Gerard Guthrie

Yozo Bale’s Ballarat party

Dual country cups champion Yozo Bale celebrated his fourth birthday on Monday, but trainer Correy Grenfell says the resurgent speedster is primed for his third crack at the Group 2 SJC Concreting Ballarat Cup (450m) on Friday night.

The 89-start veteran won the Ballarat and Bendigo Cups (defeating star kennelmate Tiggerlong Tonk) in 2020 and then won last year’s Ballarat Cup Consolation after running third in his heat, beaten only a length.

Yozo Bale also won last year’s Wagga Cup and was runner-up in both the Warrnambool and Geelong Cups, while also finishing second in the G1 Temlee.

Young gun Anakie trainer Correy Grenfell has waged a frustrating – but ultimately rewarding – battle against injury throughout much of Yozo Bale’s lengthy career.

“If Yozo Bale could’ve raced without the injuries he’s had, he would’ve been knocking off Group 1s for fun!”

The March ’18 son of Fernando Bale and Purcell Bale is still going strong, as evidenced by a last start 29.47sec success at Sandown Park, his 29th victory.

“If Yozo Bale could’ve raced without the injuries he’s had, he would’ve been knocking off Group 1s for fun!” said Grenfell.

“We’ve finally got on top of his problems. He’s always had hock issues and then about three months ago we found out he had bone chips in amongst his toes.

“At his age, we didn’t think surgery was the best option, so we gave him a month off and just manage it day to day. There’s a lot of massaging; Sam (wife) starts working on him the day after a race and his form since has been great.

WATCH: Evergreen sprinter YOZO BALE (3) claimed his 29th career victory at Sandown Park last Thursday night, leading all-the-way in a smart 29.47sec at start 89.

“Ability-wise, he’s not where he was when he was winning country cups, but he’s not far off. He’s probably around two lengths off his best, but he’s still running 29.40sec at Sandown!

“He’s a front-runner too, so he puts himself in the race and they’ve got to catch him.”

Yozo Bale (Box 3), which has four wins from eight starts over Ballarat’s 450m course, with three minor placings, will take aim at a second Ballarat Cup crown in Friday night’s fifth heat, where he’s on the third line of TAB betting at $4.

Anthony Azzopardi’s last start G2 Shepparton Cup winner Substantial (Box 2) is $2.90 favourite, with Black Avenger (Box 1), trained by Joe Borg, at $3.20.

Click HERE for latest TAB market on Ballarat Cup heats

“One, two and three looks like the trifecta, but Yozo Bale is definitely capable of winning,” Grenfell said.

“Brendan (Wheeler) is going to use him at stud when he retires and we’re looking at the Ballarat Cup, Geelong Cup and then maybe finish after the Wagga Cup, which he won last year.

“Friday night will be his 90th start and it would be good to get to the century, but if he was able to win another country cup, it’d be tempting to retire him and go out with a bang.”

Yozo Bale is $26 in TAB’s ‘All In’ Ballarat Cup market.

Grenfell has two other runners in Friday’s Cup heats, with ex-Queenslander Werina Express (Box 4) a $26 outsider in Heat 1 and Unathi Bale (Box 4) a $12 chance in Heat 2.

“Werina Express is a very fast dog, although he’s a bit hit and miss,” Grenfell said.

“When he came down to us from Queensland, he had a virus and his kidneys shut down. The vet said he might not race again but he’s won four city races now.”

Yozo Bale pictured winning the 2020 Group 2 Ballarat Cup final.

Gerard GuthrieGerard Guthrie

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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