Tony Brett is no stranger to big race success, especially on his home surface of Albion Park. The master conditioner prepares Jury who comes into the series with narrow wins in both the state heat and final where he ran a slippery 29.75 for the 520m. That was the 2nd time he had broken 30 seconds for the course, both times coming at his past 2 starts. From his only start in the white vest he was successful and that came at Albion Park at this trip where he was able to find the front after box rise and score a comfortable victory. This is by far the biggest ask of his career to date, but he does have the advantage of being a six-time winner over this course, with the other local Gunnadoo Rev the only other runner in the field to have raced at Albion Park. With 3 runs back from a three-month break, will the verdict be unanimous?
Victorian trainer Seona Thompson heads into Nationals night with a live chance in both the Sprint and Distance finals. Thompson is the only trainer represented in both finals in 2017 and Aston Dee Bee looks to have the right credentials to add his name to the honour roll. The black son of Barcia Bale won his right to represent Victoria after winning the State heat defeating Bewildering when finishing too strong from box 1 after initially being crossed in the early stages. In the State final he then jumped better than the heat and was soon in front where he stayed in again defeating Bewildering in a slick 29.17 for the Sandown 515m course. This will be his first look at Albion Park under race conditions which is always a risk, however he should get plenty of time to wind up to speed from the 8 box. Victory would see him land his maiden Group racing success.
The 2nd of the Seona Thompson trained runners, Bewildering gains the wildcard entry and will be looking to turn the tables on his kennel-mate Aston Dee Bee who beat him home in both the state heats and final. A 10 time winner, the black dog has been hampered by his speed out of the boxes, however that has not stopped him from claiming the Group 2 Warrnambool Classic where he defeated seasoned chasers like Up Hill Jill and Lightning Frank. He backed that up at his next start with victory in the Group 3 Bill Collins Speedstar at Sandown where he relegated Aston Dee Bee to 3rd position. A two-time winner from four attempts in the black vest, the wider gate should be of little concern as he will be powering home hard in the closing stages.
An outsider in the field, the Christine Proctor trained chaser has stormed into the Nationals following sweeping the NSW state heat and final. The rookie of the field, the son of Bekim Bale will line up following just 14 race starts, having missed a place just once. In the NSW final, the rookie was jumping from box 1 and after being crossed in the early stages continued to dive through against the rail and by the turn into the back straight was into 2nd place. Rounding the final turn he loomed up to take the front and hold off a fast finishing Mister Twister. He is no stranger to the middle of the line, having raced in the yellow vest in 5 of his 14 starts, recording 2 wins and being the runner-up on another 2 occasions. Ironically his only unplaced run also came when jumping from box 5.
Held in conjunction with the National Distance Championship and referred to as The Nationals, the feature final is held on a rotation basis around Australia’s premier tracks, with each state hosting its own heats and final. Each state’s winners progress to the National Final with the two remaining spots decided by a wild-card invitation. The Sprint heats and finals are to be held as close to 500m journey as that track allows. In 2017 the Finals are being held at Brisbane's Albion Park, with the Final to be run over 520m. Winners from the heats run at Launceston, Albion Park, Sandown, Cannington, Wentworth Park and Angle Park. The remaining two spots in the field are decided by a wild card invitiation. The 2016 winner was the Cameron Butcher trained cult hero Worm Burner when the final was held at his home track of Angle Park. Other past winners include Xylia Allen, Fabregas, Dashing Corsair and Knocka Norris. Total prizemoney on offer for the final will be $110,000 with the winner set to receive $75,000.
|Date:||Friday 25th August 2017|
|Race Time:||20:49 AEST|
|2016 Winner:||Worm Burner|
|2017 National Sprint Championship Odds|