Evan Karalis and trainer Paul Hili with Fast Minardi. 📷 Jason McKeown

  • Thursday, 23 May, 2024,
  • by Jason Adams

Hili pursues Sandown Cup dream victory

By Brennan Ryan (@BWRyan1994) courtesy of

Loira (TAS) trainer Paul Hili is setting out for Victoria with his sights set on a victory that has eluded his family for many years.

His star performer and kennel standout, Fast Minardi, is poised to compete against the country’s premier stayers in the final of the Group 1 Sandown Cup (715m) at Sandown Park on Friday night.

The journey that Paul and owner Ross Freeman have embarked on with the light brindle son of Fernando Bale is unforgettable. As he takes his place in box 3 for the winner-takes-all feature race, with a grand prize of $175,000, it’s a moment of anticipation they’ll always remember.

“Last week’s lead-up wasn’t ideal; he had some issues to resolve after his previous 500-metre run. However, we were really thrilled with the way he ran the distance first-up,” Paul Hili commented on Fast Minardi.

Fast Minardi, stepping out for the first time over the 715-metre trip last week, proved superior, holding off seasoned stayer Drill Sergeant to secure a heat win in 42.02 seconds.

He has achieved 38 wins out of 62 races, accumulating $302,935 in earnings.

The esteemed Group 1 staying event has been a race that Paul’s family has endeavoured to win for many decades.

Paul’s father, the late Joe Hili, a renowned trainer, readied the National Distance Championship victor High Intensity for two editions of the event, only to come up against the legendary racer Bold Trease, who notably secured four successive Sandown Cup victories.

“Winning the race would be a tremendous honour; it’s the most renowned staying race on the calendar,” Paul declared.

“It’s a massive challenge for Fast Minardi, but we are confident in his ability to give his all in the race.”

Corporate bookmakers have positioned Fast Minardi as the third favourite at $7.50, trailing behind Valpolicella at $1.75 from box 1 and Canya Amy at $4.40 from box 4.

“There is definitely a lot of speed within this field for a staying race; Osanna Bale and Drill Sergeant are the fastest at the outset. We know he can keep up with them from the start if he times it perfectly,” stated Paul.

“In an ideal world, we hope that Fast Minardi gets a clear run from the start and navigates the first corner in a position that gives him every chance.”

Tasmania boasts a record of three Sandown Cup victories, achieved by Wynlee Wonder in 1980, Chinatown Lad in 2008, and Bronski Beat in 2020.

The Group 1 Sandown Cup Final is Race 8 on Friday night jumping at 9:28pm. Catch the in depth coverage with Jason Adams, Nathan Grech and Kat Ernst via the Watchdog app or Sky Racing Active from 7pm.

WATCH: Fast Minardi (2) and Drill Sergeant (1) progress to the final

Jason AdamsJason Adams

Jason Adams

Jason Adams has been involved in greyhound racing for 10 years. He spent almost all of that time at Sandown Park before recently transitioning to GRV. He’s also a part of the Sky Racing team and regular contributor on RSN. Part-owner of promising racehorse Keshi Boom.

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