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Cup hero’s Classic quest

One week after his Melbourne Cup heroics, Yachi Bale will return to the spotlight at The Meadows on Saturday night as the star attraction in the heats of the Group 1 Sportsbet Silver Chief (525m).

Yachi Bale handed trainer Mark Delbridge and wife Lisa their greatest moment in greyhound racing when storming to victory in the G1 Melbourne Cup Final at Sandown Park last Saturday.

But while Yachi Bale is “as good as gold” after his stunning come-from-behind Cup triumph, it was a harsh welcome back to reality for ‘Team Delbridge’ at The Meadows on Wednesday afternoon.

“We had eight dogs in today for one third!” Mark Delbridge said ruefully.

“His best time at The Meadows is 30 ‘dead’, but I’d expect him to go a lot quicker now.”

Delbridge is optimistic it will be a different story on Saturday, when Yachi Bale leads an impressive sextet into eight must win Silver Chief qualifiers, Victorian greyhound racing’s version of the thoroughbred code’s Derby.

A September ’20 son of The Meadows 525m record holder Allen Deed, Yachi Bale, winner of nine of his 22 starts, is Sportsbet’s $2.90 favourite from box 7 in the fourth heat – race 7 at 8.37pm.

While Yachi Bale has won four from six at Sandown, his record over The Meadows’ sprint course isn’t quite as impressive, winning three of eight, while Delbridge would’ve preferred to draw closer to the rails.

“I would’ve rathered him in three, four or five,” said Delbridge, who ran second in the 2013 Silver Chief Final with Allen Makoto.

“But in saying that, he did it from box 7 in his Melbourne Cup heat.

“His best time at The Meadows is 30 ‘dead’, but that was early in his career and with the Melbourne Cup series under his belt, I’d expect him to go a lot quicker now.”

‘Team Delbridge’s’ other Silver Chief contenders are Elite Alex (heat 1, box 8 – $3.40), Valor Bale (heat 3, box 3 – $7.50), Elite Jet (heat 5, box 6 – $21), Landyn Bale (heat 6, box 6 – $2.50F), and Zoha Bale (heat 7, box 3 – $3.80).

“The only two that are drawn alright are Yachi Bale’s brothers, Valor Bale and Zoha Bale,” Delbridge offered.

WATCH: “Flying Yachi Bale!” YACHI BALE (B4) unleashed a paralysing finishing burst to claim Melbourne Cup glory, storming over the top of FERNANDO MICK (B5) and PLAINTIFF (B1).

“I still reckon Zoha Bale is stronger than Yachi Bale.

“He pulled up a little bit sore in his back muscle after he beat Yachi Bale over 600m at The Meadows (November 5), so he’s a little bit underdone.

“Valor Bale got tangled up at Sandown over 595m on Melbourne Cup night, so you can just write that run off.

“Elite Alex uses a bit of the track, so he might be okay off ‘the pink’.

“He’s a good dog and he does have speed – he’ll run in the 5.00s early – but he’s a little bit underdone too. He had a cough after the Great Chase Final, and I had to rush him for the Silver Chief. I would’ve liked another week.”

Click HERE  for Sportsbet’s latest Silver Chief heat prices

Delbridge hasn’t deviated from his long-range goal for Yachi Bale to tackle the heats of the G1 Sale Cup (650m) on December 18, where he’ll be joined by littermates Zoha Bale and Valor Bale, as well as defending Cup champion Jarick Bale.

“The main aim was always Sale, and nothing has changed,” he said.

“If Yachi Bale doesn’t win on Saturday night, I’ll be able to give him a look at Sale before the heats. I haven’t had a chance to take him there yet, which isn’t ideal.

“Nobody spoke to us about The Phoenix. It would’ve been Brendan’s (Wheeler) decision and I’m 90 per cent sure the answer would’ve been no anyway.”

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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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