Poke The Bear (box six) has been installed as a $3 favourite to win Saturday’s Group 1 TAB Topgun at The Meadows (525m), worth $150,000 to the winner.
The son of Fernando Bale and Nicki Fields has the fifth fastest time ever recorded over the sprint journey (29.46), with the Seona Thompson-trained chaser having to contend with box six if he is to claim the first Group 1 victory of his career. Poke The Bear is one of two chasers engaged for Thompson, who will also put the polish on recent Adelaide Cup winner Real Simple (box seven).
Dyna Patty will exit the same box she used when winning the Group 1 Maturity at The Meadows in July, which was also the last victory of her star-studded career. The daughter of Fernando Bale and Unix Bale – one of two chasers engaged for Andrea Dailly – looked to be back in form after a very unlucky second in a semi final of the Million Dollar Chase.
Western Australia will have two representatives with Group 1 Perth Cup winner Trouper Monelli (box two) and West On Augie (box three) – who is now in the hands of Robert Britton but owned by WA’s Weston Syndicate. West On Augie’s only start at The Meadows was in a heat of the Group 1 Maturity where he took a tumble, but has since enjoyed success in Victoria after winning August’s Group 1 National Sprint Championship at Sandown Park.
Hecton Bale (box eight) and Hasten Slowly (box five) will renew rivalries after finishing first and second in this year’s Australian Cup final. Hecton Bale will exit the same box he had in The Meadows’ flagship race, where he powered away to score in 29.53.
Up Hill Jill (box four) will be looking to create history by becoming the first greyhound ever to win back-to-back Topguns. The daughter of Premier Fantasy and Where’s Demonica would also push her prizemoney past the $1 million mark – the fifth to do so in Australia.
Poco Dorado (box five) will be looking to back up her impressive Sydney Cup victory by winning the Group 2 Topgun Stayers over the 725-metre journey.
The daughter of Fernando Bale and Chica Destacada is on a five-race winning streak, with her last start in Victoria yielding a third-placed effort behind Tornado Tears and Rippin’ Sam in the Group 1 National Distance Championship.
Billy’s Bake (box one) and Ebby Ripper (box eight) will be lining up in their second Stayers Topgun final, with both hoping to improve on their unplaced efforts in the 2017 version.
Three-time track record holder Champagne Sally (box four) finished third in this year’s Group 1 Zoom Top behind the brilliant Fanta Bale and will be a player if she can showcase her early dash in arguably the most open Stayers Topgun since the race’s inception.
This year’s race ($110,000) will be the last with a Group 2 status, with next year’s event becoming a Group 1 – giving The Meadows 10 Group 1 finals in a calendar year.