Victory in the A$600,000 TAB Melbourne Cup at Sandown Park tomorrow night (R8, 11:24pm NZT) will end an emotion-charged week for Canterbury greyhound owners and breeders Alison Lee and her partner Merv O'Brian.
Lee's greyhound Above All is rated a solid prospect in the world's richest greyhound race after he convincingly won his 515m heat last week by a 6.25-length margin in a tidy 29.37s.
It was real cut-throat heat racing, with only the eight heats winners advancing through to contest the most desired race to win in Australasia.
Lee never got to watch Above All's super heat win live as she was bedside with her father Doug, who died just moments before the race.
The funeral was yesterday and this morning the partners are flying to Melbourne.
Above All is an inexperienced chaser compared with his cup rivals. He had two races at Addington, winning the first and falling in the second, before being transferred to leading Victorian mentor Robbie Britton.
"When he arrived here I immediately recognised that he was a very special greyhound.
"He confirmed those thoughts in his early races for me, so I then set him for the Melbourne Cup," said Britton.
Remarkably, he superbly achieved that target in just his 10th career start (six wins).
Above All is the second-equal cup favourite, despite his heat time being just the fifth fastest.
Britton explains why. "His heat was the first race last week. Sandown has a policy of dumping plenty of water on the track prior to racing and they then leave it for the rest of the meeting which sees the track speeding up considerably, which has a significant impact on race times.
"I rate Above All's heat effort two to three lengths better than his recorded time, when looking at the other heat times."
That margin would bring Above All right up to the quickest heat, a gallop of 29.21s delivered by Dyna Villa.
Britton is happy with his charge's three trap (white) draw saying, "He doesn't have the early pace that others have in this field. What he has shown me is that he is fearless in taking gaps, so hopefully he can get a soft early run into the first turn and take any gap that may be presented to him."
Great boost for NZ
• Canterbury dog Above All has qualified for the world's richest greyhound race at Sandown tomorrow night.
• After winning his first two races at Addington, Above All was transferred to Victorian Robbie Britton.
• He was an impressive heat winner last week, finishing more than six lengths clear.