​Dogs racing for riches

TWO locally-trained dogs will contest one of the world’s richest greyhound race on Friday night.

Notorious Mac, trained by Des Douch at Maffra, will start from box number four, while Degani, for William McMahon at Darriman, will start from seven. Both are rated $34 chances at the tote.

The dogs qualified for the $630,000 515 metre race at Sandown Park after winning their heats last Friday night.

Notorious Mac won the opening heat in 29.53 seconds. Jumping from box one, Notorious Mac led from the start to record his 12th career victory in open class.

Degani caused the upset of the night when he saluted at $34.30. Degani began cleanly from box three to follow Fully Loaded through the first turn, and from there always looked the winning chance, scoring in 29.31s and giving McMahon his first Melbourne Cup finalist.

Seona Thompson, who trained last year’s winner Aston Dee Bee, is rated as a strong chance to go back-to-back with her two runners in the field, Poke The Bear and the undefeated Black Opium, rated highly.

Poke The Bear has drawn the familiar box six, having won three of his group races from there and will be wearing the green rug for the 10th time when he lines up in his 52nd career start on Friday night.

My Redeemer was the big winner out of Sunday’s box draw after drawing the coveted box one. He is the $3.40 favourite at the tote.

Trainer David Geall was the first to be called forward at the box draw and did well to contain his delight at securing the inside box.

“I didn’t want to be drawn out first, but as soon as I saw we had box one it was a huge relief,” Geall said.

“It’s such a massive race and it’s so important to draw a good box. It’s given him every chance — there’s no guarantees, we all know that — but it gives him a big chance.”

It’s the second consecutive year, Geall has had a Melbourne Cup contender after Up Hill Jill made the final in 2017. Despite “Jill” finishing outside of the placings, the thrill of having a runner in the final of the world’s greatest greyhound race provided wonderful memories for Geall and his wife Rose, and they are looking forward to experiencing it all again this year.

“We were privileged to do it last year with Jill.

It’s so exciting to know you have a runner in it, but then the week leading up to it — it’s what makes it so fun and so exciting,” Geall said.

“It’s so well done by everyone involved, it makes it the race the biggest in the world.”

Reigning national sprint champion West On Augie comes across the Nullabor with plenty of hype in his quest to become the first chaser since hall of famer Rapid Journey to claim the Nationals-Melbourne Cup double.

She’s Gifted was also a big winner out of the box draw after coming up with box two. Trained by Debbie Coleman for the 15-member Tsols Tips Syndicate, many of whom are enjoying greyhound ownership for the first time, She’s Gifted is rated a good chance to become the first Shootout finalist since Bombastic Shiraz to go on and win the Melbourne Cup.