When it comes to greyhound racing, we're accustomed to seeing favourites deliver a lot of the time. Double-figure winners are rare in the sport, but sometimes, huge upsets still occur.
And on Wednesday at Manawatu Raceway, Ariana Sunset paid one of the biggest tote win dividends in New Zealand greyhound racing history, when she scored at odds of $87.20 and $8.40.
The favourite, Allegro Envy, led for the majority of the 410m journey, but when she faded late, the swoopers came, including Ariana Sunset, who had settled mid-field early off Box 8. With a late burst of speed, she got up to score by nearly four lengths on the line.
Her victory brought up her third career win at start number 86, much to the delight of her trainer Robert Murray, who is based in Toko, about 10kms east of Stratford.
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"It's so exciting!" says Murray. "I'm very rapt with her.
"In her last four or so runs, she'd had checks. She didn't jump from Box 7 last week and she was checked and became unbalanced. She didn't get touched today and that's the difference – she's probably run five to six lengths quicker.
"She started off her racing career with Punga (Brian Goldsack), but I actually bred her, and when he finished training, I got her back up here.
"The litter is four and a half years old now, but it looks like Ariana Sunset could keep racing for a bit longer now!"
Murray has six greyhounds at his property, including one who has retired from racing. He never bets on his dogs, but the thrill of Wednesday's win was enhanced by the fact that all races on the day were worth double their usual prizemoney.
"It's been a really good day. She's up to Class 2 now, which is hard to believe, really. It took her about 50 starts to get her first win, and now she's had three!"
TAB NZ's record of New Zealand greyhound racing tote win dividends dates back to August 1998. The previous highest win dividend was Cover To Cover, who won at Invercargill back in October 2013 at a price of $78.10, while more recently, Bigtime Chloe paid $76.90 when she won a heat of the 2019 Group 1 Silver Collar at Manukau Stadium.