Simon Told Helen will start favourite in what is shaping as one of the great editions of the TAB Melbourne Cup at Sandown Park this Friday night.
Australia’s top ranked greyhound, Simon Told Helen, was at his brilliant best in his heat, showing his trademark acceleration and unparalleled mid-race pace to win in 29.260 and charge into his 15th group race final.
“He deserves a chance to win this race,” said trainer David Burnett.
“It’s the way he does it. He got a bump or two early but worked to the front and then put six or seven lengths on them down the back. It’s a credit to the dog.”
A win in the final would see Simon Told Helen become the eighth greyhound to pass $1,000,000 in prize money, and his chances of a fifth Group 1 title were enhanced after drawing suitably in Box 2.
“He should get a bit of room to get rolling early. Hopefully he can use the box to get to the rail and hold it through the first turn,” Burnett said.
“The pressure is on again, being favourite, but if he does everything right he can show what sort of champion he is and hopefully he can do that.”
As impressive as Simon Told Helen was, it was Tiggerlong Tonk who claimed the time honours with an eye-catching 29.162 victory.
The pair will meet for the seventh time on Friday night – the fifth time at group level – with Simon Told Helen leading the head-to-head 6-0. However, Tiggerlong Tonk enters the final in career-best form having broken the Group 3 Shootout race record at his previous outing, and with a clear run from Box 8 will have the opportunity to turn the tables on his great rival.
Pre-series favourite Shima Shine also made it safely through to the $630,000 decider, as did Western Australian sprinter Tommy Shelby who is in the care of Pearcedale’s Kel Greenough during his Victorian campaign. Fellow Pearcedale-based trainer Luckie Karabitsakos will rug his first Cup finalist with Hard Style Rico, a greyhound he bred, owns and trains.
Zipping Sullivan, Lucy’s Milo and Tough Tears round out the field that boasts a combined 19 group race titles and almost $2.25m in prize money.
In the night’s other Group 1 final, Houdini Boy is the odds-on favourite to win the $150,000 Bold Trease over 715 metres.
After just 20 career starts, Houdini Boy has become one of the country’s most popular greyhounds due to his last-to-first racing pattern, however he flipped the script in his heat, leading all of the way on his debut over the distance.
Meanwhile, Greyhound Clubs Victoria, in conjunction with Greyhound Racing Victoria and the Sandown Greyhound Racing Club, launched a statewide community sports clubs’ sweep for the Melbourne Cup.
The community sports clubs’ sweep provides regional greyhound racing clubs an opportunity to partner with their local community sports clubs to provide an engaging and exciting linkage to the world’s greatest greyhound race.
Clubs whose greyhounds have progressed to the final have the chance of winning a share in the $10,000 prize pool (1st $5,000, 2nd $1500, 3rd $1000, and 4th to 8th $500).
Tommy Shelby will represent the Ellinbank and District Football League.
The Melbourne Cup will be shown live on 7TWO from 8.30pm this Friday, or can be streamed free on the Watchdog app.