Friday’s Group 3 Ram Security Cranbourne Classic promises to be an electrifying race with eight elite greyhounds chasing for a share in $35,500, including $25,000 to the winner.
Among the eight contenders in the 520-metre final is Gippsland pin-up greyhound Catch The Thief, who was the fastest heat winner last Friday.
Trained in the small town of Briagolong by Matthew Clark, Catch The Thief has won 16 races from 26 starts, including 10 of his past 13. He is aiming for a third group victory having already captured the G2 WA Derby in Perth and the G3 Warragul St Leger.
The Cranbourne region has long been a greyhound racing stronghold, as evidenced with three local trainers combining to produce four finalists this year – Jason Thompson with Fire Legend (Box 1) and Taken (Box 8); Mario Briganti with Manila Knight (Box 2); and Robert Palmer with Run Like Jess (Box 3). Incidentally, Run Like Jess’ dam, Paua To Avoid, was a Cranbourne Classic finalist in 2016 finishing unplaced.
Jeff Britton won the race last year with Weblec Ace, and this year he has two finalists including Weblec Jet, a younger half brother of the reigning champ.
Another interesting point is that five of the eight finalists are sired by former megastar of the racetrack, Fernando Bale, who stands at local stud farm Meticulous Lodge, which is run by Paul and Michelle Westerveld.
Greyhound racing continues to operate throughout Victoria with no crowds and strict social-distancing protocols in place. Friday’s Cranbourne greyhound race meeting will be run as a twilight fixture in line with the current metropolitan curfew.
Exclusive coverage of the Cranbourne Classic will also be available via the ‘Watchdog Racing’ Twitter and Facebook platforms, with the racing to also be broadcast on Sky Racing and on the airwaves through Radio Sport 927 AM and SEN Track 1593 AM.
Friday’s greyhound racing action at Cranbourne will kick off just after 3pm, with the Ram Security Cranbourne Classic Final to take place soon after 5.30pm.
The Cranbourne Greyhound of the Year and Cranbourne Trainer of the Year will also be announced on Friday, while the club will conduct the inaugural Karen Leek Memorial in honour of the legendary local breeder-trainer who died in shock circumstances earlier this year.
The Cranbourne Classic, which was first run in 1975, is an age-restricted event open to greyhounds aged 29 months or younger.
RAM SECURITY CRANBOURNE CLASSIC FINAL
Friday 21 August, 520m
1 FIRE LEGEND (Jason Thompson, Pearcedale)
2 MANILA KNIGHT (Mario Briganti, Tuerong)
3 RUN LIKE JESS (Robert Palmer, Caldermeade)
4 ARIZONE EYES (Robert Britton, Lara)
5 MEPUNGA KATIE (Jeff Britton, Anakie)
6 WEBLEC JET (Jeff Britton, Anakie)
7 CATCH THE THIEF (Matthew Clark, Briagolong)
8 TAKEN (Jason Thompson, Pearcedale)
9 FABRIOLA ZAD (Andrea Dailly, Anakie)
10 FARMOR WATCHERS (Robert Britton, Lara)
2020 Cranbourne Classic heat winners:
- Catch The Thief (29.87sec Best)
- Manila Knight (29.89sec)
Supporting features on the Cranbourne Classic card:
- Grade 5 699m – 1st Prize $5,000
- Karen Leek Memorial – Special Event (Grade 5, 6 or 7) 520m – 1st Prize $1,650