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The Sandgroper 2024: Runner-By-Runner Preview

3 minute read

Racing and Sports Greyhound expert Rodney Newell provides his runner-by-runner analysis of The Sandgroper to be run at Cannington on Thursday night.

Big Energy - The big fawn chaser will be hard to beat in The Sandgroper.
Big Energy - The big fawn chaser will be hard to beat in The Sandgroper. Picture: AAP Image

A year on since the inaugural running of The Sandgroper in 2023 won by Western Australian chaser Crumble Monelli and a spectacular field of eight chasers await us.

Cannington plays host to the opening leg of The Western Trilogy on Thursday, with the winner of The Sandgroper taking home a very respectable $300,000.

Here is our runner-by-runner review of The Sandgroper, and all the information you need to know about each greyhound.

 

Box One - BIG ENERGY - $2.05* with TABtouchRunning in the Mintbet slot.

It's the return of Western Australia's prodigal son. Beginning his career in Western Australia, Big Energy has sinced moved to Victoria to be trained by the astute Jacqueline Greenough of Wow She's Fast fame. He returned to racing at Sandown with an explosive 29.15 best of the night on April 4th, after a two month hiatus since his sixth placing in the Group One Temlee.

He has contested and placed in Group One features such as The Adelaide Cup and Melbourne Cup and was a finalist also in The Topgun and Temlee. He has a personal best at Cannington of 29.72, however that run was very early on in his career and he is now a more seasoned chaser. From his 32 career starts he has won fifteen and placed second on seven other occasions - collecting just shy of half a million dollars in prizemoney. 

Big Energy has an amazing record from inside boxes, and after the box draw his price to win The Sandgroper was slashed dramatically. From four starts off the one box he has three victories and a second placing and a further two wins from two starts from box two. He is drawn to perfection and will be very hard to beat. 

 

Box Two - MORTON - $7.50* with TABtouchRunning in the TABtouch slot.

Victorian chaser Morton represents TAB Touch and has drawn well here in box two. His form in late January and February was outstanding as he won the $250,000 Gold Bullion at Albion Park on top of his Queensland Deby win at Albion Park. In mid February he won a heat of the Group One Australian Cup beating Alpha Zulu, however went into the final as a $2.60 favourite and was sadly below his best when running seventh.

The initial weeks off since then indicated Morton had bruising to a hock and his foot was given time off to recoup. Since then he travelled to Cannington to trial and get a feel for the track under the care of Steve Withers, running 29.77 with an early split of 5.52. Since then he returned to Victoria running second in a Free For All at The Meadows. In this race he finished second to Melbourne Cup winner Yachi Bale after leading and running 29.61 seconds for the 525m journey.

If anything, Morton has been inconsistent since his fantastic performances in Queensland. However he cannot be underestimated having drawn a good box. Has one career start from box two for a win, and like many of the runners in the field he must lead to show his best. He was unlucky to be run down last start at The Meadows, however it was his first race start since running seventh in The Australian Cup on February 24th and may well have been in need of the run. 

 

Box Three - SUNSET FRAZIER - $16* with TABtouch. Running in the Aaron Bain Racing/Summit Bloodstock slot.

The David Hobby trained Sunset Frazier is the only Western Australian trained greyhound in the field, with the other seven runners being trained in Victoria. The son of Sunset Spitfire has just 15 career starts to his name for eight wins and five minor placings. One of these wins was against more experienced chasers, however he won a heat of The Perth Cup and beat the likes of Elite Machine and Saige Tenniele in that race. 

In preparation for The Sandgroper Sunset Frazier went round at $1.15 at Mandurah in a 488 metre Free For All on April 5 and was beaten on merit by Molfetta Cruise after leading and having no real excuses. He does have a 29.65 personal best at Cannington however after the run at Mandurah it's hard to think he could run up to that time at present. 

Sunset Frazier is a hard railer who generally heads left at box rise. With this in mind he may cause trouble early on for the likes of Morton and Big Energy if he comes out with them. 

 

Box Four - MEPUNGA SMOKEY - $14* with TABtouch. Running in the  RAM Racing Syndicate slot.

The Jeff Britton trained son of Barcia Bale has been in very consistent form over the last two months. In early March he made the trip to Perth and contested the Perth Cup heats at Cannington and won his heat in a very fast 29.58. This was from the horrible box four draw, nevertheless he defeated talented Western Australia chaser Solidified and Harley Monelli. 

Mepunga Smokey then ran a very unlucky third in the final after missing the kick and chasing hard down the back to run a gallant third to Uncle Tommy and Mepunga Shine. He beat the likes of Sunset Frazier and Trooper Tears in that final - two contenders that he meets here in The Sandgroper. The box draw here has not helped him on top of drawing boxes 5,5,4 and 7 in his last four starts. 

The talented blue dog has quick times on his resume, having run 29.27 at Sandown and 29.67 at The Meadows. He normally takes a few strides to get going and with so much early pace drawn in and around him it won't be an easy task. However being drawn directly outside Sunset Frazier is an advantage as he will jump hard left. 

He has had two starts from box four for two wins. However from box five has has three starts for no wins, so his middle box draw history is a little hit and miss.

 

Box Five - FERNANDO PHIL - $10* with TABtouchRunning in the Sportsbet slot.

Posted a very quick heat win in The Australian Cup in mid February running 29.64 to beat the likes of Launch Code and Explicit who appeared in that heat. Finished sixth in the final after being unable to show his usual early zip. Only ran third in a heat of The Horsham Cup Group Two. Seven days later in the final Fernando Phil caused a major boilover leading from box rise as a reserve after the scratching of War Time Novelty, defeating talented sprinters Explicit and Nature Strip. 

He has sinced contested The Shepparton Cup series over 450 metres on a one turn track and ran fourth in the final behind Explicit. In this race he drew nicely in box two and missed the kick slightly. Has been known throughout his career as a very fast dog, however does occasionally mix his box manners and may be best suited to one turn tracks. 

Much of Fernando Phil's career has been contesting races on large one turn tracks such as Geelong, Horsham and Shepparton which have allowed him to show his explosive speed. He does not have a good box five career record, having only won the one race from four starts. At just over two years of age he just might find this type of race event above him. The box and other speedy customers drawn inside may prevent him from leading.

If Fernando Phil does not lead from the outset it is doubtful that he has what it takes the run down the likes of other greyhounds in the field. 

 

Box Six - HECTOR FAWLEY - $14* with TABtouchRunning in the Ladbrokes slot.

The Lisa Cockerell trained son of Bernardo is one of the hardest chasers in the industry. The blue dog has throughout his career raced the best at all times and has shown his diversity racing over middle and longer distances. He has had 54 starts for twenty wins and another fourteen minor placings and is just shy of the $500,000 mark in prize money. 

He has the Group One Hume Cup over 600 metres on his resume. Hector Fawley showed he could still sprint, winning an Australia Cup heat in February with a speedy 29.54 time, beating the likes of Mepunga Smokey and Trooper Tears, who he faces in The Sandgroper. He ran a good third in a Free For All beaten by Yachi Bale and Morton who finished just ahead of him. 

Hector Fawley has just the one win from box six from five career starts, however does have six wins from boxes five and four so can certainly handle a middle draw. He is without doubt one of the hardest chasers in Victoria and if he lands near the leaders he will prove to be exceptionally strong. He ran an eye popping 29.45 trial at Cannington last Saturday night and his class should carry him a long way.

Of all the outsiders in the race he may command the most respect.

 

Box Seven - TROOPER TEARS -  $7.50* with TABtouchRunning in the Total Containers Solutions/Team Britton slot.

The son of Goodesy heads into The Sandgroper after competing in the recent Perth Cup series. Prior to the heat he was given a trial at Cannington and smashed the clock with a blistering 29.48 for the 520 metres. He then won a heat of the Perth Cup on March 9 beating a very talented field running 29.39 and defeating Sunset Serengeti and Mustang Timmy. He then ran an unlucky sixth, finding interference at the first turn.

Trooper Tears has yet to have a race appearance since that sixth placing in the Perth Cup final, however astute trainer Robert Britton will have the talented black dog ready for this assignment. This is his biggest test to date as he has raced in restricted company until contesting The Perth Group One heats. He won a heat of the Harrison- Dawson Group One however he failed to finish in that final, up against the likes of Amron Boy and Dundee Smokey.

Trooper Tears has won thirteen of his 26 career starts. He is a noted wide runner so the box draw has been very kind to him having drawn box seven. Four of his career wins have come from boxes seven and eight from seven starts and two minor placings. Of all the runners engaged in The Sandgroper, Trooper Tears' winning time of 29.39 at Cannington sees him with the quickest time around the Cannington circuit. 

If he can avoid Explicit at the beginning he may well be in the mix down the back straight and could appear as a big danger. 

 

Box Eight - EXPLICIT - $5* with TABtouchRunning in the Punter's HQ slot.

A winning combination here with slotholders Punter's HQ no stranger to fame. With ownership of champion greyhound She's A Pearl, champion Victorian greyhound trainer Jason Thompson is no stranger to winning Australia's biggest greyhound races. With the exceptional record of 15 wins from 19 starts, Explicit has also placed second on three other occasions. 

Explicit announced himself with his blistering speed when winning the Group One Temlee at The Meadows, beating the likes of Morton and and Big Energy whom he meets here in The Sandgroper. What was most impressive in that final back in February was his ability to overcome a poor box six draw and defeat more experienced chasers including his kennelmate Alpha Zulu in the final. 

Explicit has since been aimed at Country Victorian Cups on one turn tracks such as Shepparton and Horsham. He was successful at Shepparton over the 450 metres at Group Two, defeating the likes of Fernando Phil whom he meets here in The Sandgroper. Explicit then placed an unlucky second when slightly missing the start and running second to Fernando Phil. 

Explicit goes to another level when drawn inside and that appears to be the concern here, having drawn the outside box. However his class may carry him a long way and it must be noted that from seven starts in adjacent boxes six and seven he has actually won six races. He must be kept safe on ability alone and good dogs can overcome poor box draws. 

 

RACE SELECTIONS - 1/6/8/4

 

*Prices correct as of 2pm AEST, April 17.


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