Championship Play-Off Final: Michael Owen’s View
The 2019 Cearnsport Springbok will be a five runner affair after the strongly fancied King Nelson was disqualified for interference (fighting) in the semi-final of the competition last Sunday. His absence means we have a five-runner final and it looks to be at the mercy of the Ernie Gaskin trained Mane Mane who is unbeaten in the competition clocking 29.17sec and 29.34sec despite being impeded in the closing stages of the semi-final.
Tipping-up an 11/10 shot does not take a lot of talent but I genuinely believe there are good grounds to oppose the favourite who has enjoyed trouble-free passages in both his heat and semi-final. Obviously he can assume an early lead and benefit from missing an opening bend melee once again. But if King Nelson had of seen through his challenge Mane Mane would have been caught last time and I believe he is vulnerable to one of the fast finishers in Sunday’s line-up.
Most would be looking to 7/4 shot Burgess Brandy to oppose Mane Mane with. He too is unbeaten in the competition clocking 29.15sec and 29.27sec but he surely needs to lead early to be seen at his best and I can envisage a duel for part of the race with the market principle.
As they say in U.S. horseracing an early-pace duel can often ‘soften up’ the leaders and leave them open to a ‘closer’. Any of the three other runners in the competition are capable of winning from off the pace, they all see out Central Park’s 480 metres well.
Piemans Bullet, who runs from trap 2, is an exceptionally tight railing greyhound that was slightly hampered at the first hurdle and squeezed-up at the third bend of his semi-final when challenging eventual winner Burgess Brandy. I believe he would beat that rival in a two-runner race so I have to like him at Betvictor’s 5/1 taking on board his chances depend on negotiating a clear passage.
Droopys Trawler is yet to receive a clear run in the competition. He was severely crowded and a dozen lengths adrift of Mane Mane in his semi-final. Finishing strongly he was beaten by half that margin and given a clear run and straight aim at the pace-setters it is not inconceivable he could collect them close home.
Even the 20/1 about Jumeirah Boss has merit. Luckless in the opening round this confirmed stayer – an open race winner on the flat over six-bends – has bundles to find on times but he could have won in the opening round if the gaps had opened and he still takes a few liberties with his hurdles. Improvement is entirely possible.
Piemans Bullet 5/1
Droopys Trawler 6/1
Jumeirah Boss 20/1