• Monday, 10 Jul, 2023,
  • by Peter Quilty

‘Zeus’ a McKenna god!

Highly underrated Sunnyside Zeus sent a ‘thunderbolt’ to his rivals in the $87,000 Group 2 McKenna Memorial final (595m) at Sandown Park on Thursday night.

He reached his own ‘Mount Olympus’ conquering the middle-distance Titans in the $55,000 to-the-winner event.

Trained at Briagolong by Matt Clark, Sunnyside Zeus was ‘backed for an absolute stack’ after $15 was offered in early markets.

A ‘massive go on the fixed odds’ and ‘crunched in on the tote as well’, Sunnyside Zeus ($4.90) led all the way to defeat Ailee Bale ($7.10) by 0.8L, with Jarick Bale ($21.90) a further 1.4L away third in 34.16sec.

Both placegetters are trained by Mark Delbridge, who also had Valor Bale (5th) in the final.

Delbridge was chasing his third McKenna Memorial win in four years, having scored with Christo Bale  in 2020 and 2021. Jarick Bale finished sixth in last year’s event.

WATCH: “Backed for an absolute stack”… SUNNYSIDE ZEUS (B1) rules in the McKenna Memorial.

A finalist in last month’s Pink Diamond Champion Distance, Sunnyside Zeus (Jan ’21 My Redeemer x Minter Bee) notched his 12th win (with seven seconds and four thirds) from 35 starts and lifted his earnings to $121,400. He’s now three from four over 595m at SP.

Sunnyside Zeus was bred by Robert Reinke of Johnsonville and is owned by Paul Connell of Seville East, who also owns Fernando Mick – winner of the 2023 G1 Australian Cup and 2022 G1 Hobart Thousand, and almost $900,000 in prizemoney.

“Sunnyside Zeus was obviously the subject of a betting plunge, but none of it was mine,” Clark quipped. “However, my confidence levels increased when he drew the ‘red’.

“And I thought he was the run of the race in his heat; he got posted wide turning for home.

“When the markets opened for the final, he was $15; I couldn’t believe it! He never runs a bad race. He’s not a superstar, but he’s really honest.”

“When the markets opened for the final, he was $15; I couldn’t believe it!”

Clark advised that Sunnyside Zeus would now “go to The Fireball” – a G3 series, commencing with heats on Saturday night, over 730m at The Meadows.

“I think it’s time for him to have another crack at staying. He’s just a one-batter.”

One race prior to Sunnyside Zeus’ victory, Clark finished second with his litter sister – Sunnyside Jo – in a Mixed 4/5 (595m).

A week earlier, she was runner-up in the Floodfawn Classic at Traralgon.

“They both came to me at around 18 months of age, and I did their pre-training as well,” Clark said.

Peter QuiltyPeter Quilty

Peter Quilty

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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