TO say veteran Seaspray owner-trainers Barry and Heather Harper have home-track advantage on their side in Sunday’s inaugural running of Sale Greyhound Racing Club’s lucrative new feature race The Horizon would be an understatement.
The Harpers, who have only six race dogs in their kennel, are hoping to celebrate their greatest moment in the sport with home-bred Omega Dodge.
“God, yes,” was 73-year-old Barry Harper’s response when quizzed if claiming the Horizon’s $25,000 winner’s purse would be a career highlight.
“I ran second in the Melbourne Cup in 1994 with Zippity Magic, which was beaten about four inches by Light Of Fire, but this would be my biggest win for sure.”
While Omega Dodge is tackling one of the superstars of the Victorian sprinting ranks in Ferdinand Boy, winner of the Ballarat and Shepparton cups already in 2021, among others, local knowledge is very much in his favour.
He’s familiar with every grain of loam on his local track, with 26 of his 31 starts and all eight of his victories coming over Sale’s 440 metre course.
Omega Dodge notched up his his third straight victory in last weekend’s Horizon heats when upsetting $1.50 favourite Dream Wizard. His 24.76 second performance was the second quickest qualifying effort behind Ferdinand Boy’s 24.60s.
“He’s a very good little chaser,” Harper said.
“I was pleasantly surprised with his heat run. It was a very strong win.
“He’s Heather’s dog and she wanted to put him in the heats but I was umming and ahing. But he’s going good so I thought why not.”
Another huge boost to Omega Dodge’s chances in Sunday’s final, which is race 8 to jump at 6.59pm, is what Harper says is a perfect draw in box seven.
“That’s not going to do him any harm at all,” he said.
“He does all his best racing from seven and eight and won’t get into any trouble out there.
“It’s a very hard race but I think he should run a place. But once we close those doors behind them we’re in the hands of the gods!”
Fittingly for the first edition of the Horizon, there’s a very strong local representation.
Darriman-based William McMahon boasts two finalists in the classy Dr. Tucker, winner of 12 from 20, highlighted by the Group 3 Great Chase, and litter sister Dr. Madison, while Dawn Johnstone from Boisdale qualified Massimo, which has won 10 from 21.