The influence of champion sprinter Fernando Bale – more than three years after becoming the first greyhound to win over $1 million in prizemoney – is seemingly as strong as ever.
Not only is Fernando Bale the sire of Saturday night’s TAB Topgun favourite Poke The Bear, he’s actually responsible for six of the eight finalists – a perfect example of his ability to leave a hard-wearing stamp on progeny since retiring with 35 wins and $1.299 million in prizemoney.
And now the race is on for one of his offspring to be the first to emulate their famous dad by winning this prestigious event, taken out by Fernando in race-record time in 2015.
Despite drawing awkwardly in box six, Poke The Bear is the punters’ pick to win Saturday’s Topgun on the back of a very solid record at The Meadows, which includes an amazing 29.46 personal best time over the 525 metres – the fifth fastest of all-time.
Andrea Dailly, who trained Fernando Bale throughout his stellar career, now has the privilege of preparing two of his offspring in the Topgun final, with Dyna Patty (box one) and Hecton Bale (box eight) drawing on each wing for the $150,000-to-the-winner final. Both greyhounds have already tasted Group 1 success at The Meadows, but both will need to curb a recent run of losses to claim the world’s richest invitation-only event.
Hasten Slowly, who will start from box five in Saturday’s main event, will be hoping to go one better after finishing second in three previous Group 1 finals, including The Meadows’ flagship race (Australian Cup) in March.
Fernando Bale’s supremacy certainly isn’t confined to racing in Victoria, with two of Saturday’s Topgun finalists born, bred and owned in Western Australia.
West On Augie – now in the capable hands of Lara trainer Robert Britton – is no stranger to Group 1 success in Melbourne, taking out the National Sprint Championship at Sandown Park in August. Fellow West Australian Trouper Monelli beat some of Victoria’s best on his home turf, successful in April’s Perth Cup.
Will Fernando Bale’s legacy as a sire continue on Saturday night, or will Real Simple and Up Hill Jill – the only two greyhounds not sired by the champ in the Topgun final – spoil the party?