A super determined import provided hope to a nation’s greyhound populous by winning Victoria’s premier race for young male greyhound sprinters, the $145,000 Group 1 AJS Corporation Silver Chief Classic (525m) at The Meadows on Saturday night.
Kiwi Merv O’Brien, who bred and owns Above All (Magic Sprite – Kara Janx) in conjunction with his partner Alison Lee, was in Melbourne to collect the $100,000 winner’s cheque, and said the victory was important for New Zealand greyhound racing.
“This win isn’t for Alison or for myself…it’s for the people of New Zealand.”
“This gives them belief that they too can breed top class greyhounds and bring them to Australia to compete in the rich races,” said O’Brien, who also bred the 2013 Group 2 Harrison Dawson winner Clone Your Own.
With its inferior prize money, New Zealand greyhound racing is considered a poor cousin to the highly competitive standard of greyhound racing in Victoria, if not Australia.
However, with Above All making it two Group 1 wins in the space of 16 days after recently taking out the Hobart Thousand, he might just be the number one greyhound sprinter in his adopted country.
After colliding with the previously unbeaten Dyna Double One ($2.30Fav) in the charge to the first turn, Above All ($4.40) quickly moved into second position, four lengths behind reigning Melbourne Cup winner Dyna Villa ($2.80), who had skipped four lengths clear.
Above All used all his grit to dig deep throughout the contest, eventually finding the lead in the home straight and winning in 29.780sec.
Dyna Villa finished second with Dyna Double One rounding our the Trifecta.
After starting his career with two starts for one win for Lee in New Zealand, Above All, now with leading Victorian trainer Robert Britton, has now won on 10 occasions from 16 career starts.
Britton, who is one of Australia’s most successful trainers over the past 20 years, said Above All had special qualities.
“I don’t know if he’s the quickest greyhound I’ve ever trained but he’s certainly among the most tenacious,” Britton said of Above All.
“He reminds me of a dog I trained in the late eighties called Barbariot, who was so good that whenever he raced I felt that only bad luck could beat him.”
“That’s how I feel with Above All, except it was hard to be confident tonight because there were some really good dogs in the race.”
“But he’s now won two Group 1s from Box 5, which is pretty special.”
Britton said he would resist the temptation to race Above All in next week’s Group 1 Paws of Thunder series in Sydney, instead deciding to ease up on his workload for a couple of weeks before heading west for the Group 1 Perth Cup.
Watch: Above All (5) wins the Silver Chief Classic in 29.780sec.
Picture top: Above All with owner Merv O’Brien and trainer Robert Britton.