• Monday, 06 Mar, 2023,
  • by Gerard Guthrie

Collinda ‘Unleashed’ in The Emerald

Unleash Collinda – the undisputed ‘King of Healesville – will be the star attraction in Tuesday’s heats of the inaugural and innovative Sportsbet The Emerald (300m).

The unique conditions of The Emerald will see eight heats conducted, each comprising four greyhounds, with the fastest eight dogs from the heats, regardless of finishing position in their respective heats, to advance to Sunday’s $30,000 to-the-winner final.

So, heat winners aren’t guaranteed a berth in the final, and in theory, all four runners in a heat could advance to the decider.

There’s absolutely no doubt about the sprinter to beat – dual Healesville record holder Unleash Collinda, which is Sportsbet’s prohibitive $1.10 favourite to win the final heat, Race 10 at 1.54pm.

“This concept certainly does benefit him, because at times he can miss the start a bit.”

Trained by champion mentor Jason Thompson, Unleash Collinda has incredibly won 11 of his 12 starts at Healesville, his last eight in succession, and is unbeaten in three starts over 300m, with two of those wins track records.

His lone defeat at the picturesque venue was when fifth, beaten just 1.5 lengths in the G2 Healesville Cup Final last September.

The son of Beast Unleashed and Audacious Bell, bred and raced by Steph Tyler, first claimed Healesville’s 300m record when clocking 16.196sec last November, and then smashed his own benchmark when posting a blistering 16.057sec – after missing the start – on December 11.

WATCH: UNLEASH COLLINDA (B2) smashed his own Healesville 300m track record by two lengths when scorching up the straight in an almost incomprehensible 16.057sec on December 11.

He then ‘unified the belts’ when adding the 350m time standard to his stellar straight track resume with an 18.641sec performance on February 19.

Ominously, even frighteningly, for Unleash Collinda’s Emerald rivals, Jason Thompson says both the four-sprinter heat fields and 300m distance favour his Healesville supremo.

“He’s just a terrific dog at Healesville,” Thompson said.

“This concept certainly does benefit him, because at times he can miss the start a bit.

“I think the 300m probably suits him too, because perhaps he does come out a bit better from those boxes, for some reason.

“With this race in mind, he’s had his last four starts at Healesville, to tune him up for it.

“He’s very well-suited to straight racing. From day one he’s had enormous ability and been a very fast dog, but his box manners let him down on the circle; at times he’d come out a length behind the whole field.

“He’s a big dog – 36 kilos – and he’s a big-striding dog, so I think the straight allows him to free flow all the way, without having a bend to negotiate.

“I don’t think he can go any quicker than he already has at Healesville. If he does, that would be great, but it would have to be wind-assisted.

“I think The Emerald format is something different and anything new is good. I also think having four-dog fields in the heats might generate betting, rather than having two-dog match races.”

Thompson has a second odds-on favourite in heat five, the lightly-raced Royal Mint (box 1 – $1.60), a daughter of Bernardo whose four career victories have all come at Healesville.

“She goes good up there too and is a really good ‘second stringer’ to have,” Thompson said.

“She has a good record over 300m, she’s run 16.50sec, and can hopefully improve on that. She’s drawn to perfection, and I’d expect her to go pretty well too.”

Click HERE for Sportsbet’s latest Emerald heat markets

Other notable Emerald contenders include:

Cybertruck (heat 1, box 5 – $1.50). Won 14 from 27, including six of his past eight, highlighted by a record-breaking run over 500m at Traralgon.

Silver Brute (heat 4, box 5 – $2.40). Prolific winner of 32 of his 53 starts, including four from five over The Emerald course.

Maybe Yesterday (heat 6, box 1 – $1.85). Lightly-raced winner of eight from 14 and runner-up to Unleash Collinda at Healesville in three of his past four starts, with an airborne 16.10sec personal best over 300m.

Tinker Norm (heat 6, box 7 – $2.20). Winner of 11 from 22 and runner-up behind the brilliant Rejuvenate in track record time in the Shepparton Classic on Saturday night.

Not For Profit (heat 7, box 5- $1.70). Has the imposing record of 11 from 14 and was a slick 350m last start 19.13sec winner ‘up the straight’.

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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