by Jeff Collerson
Fernando Bale will be back to his all-conquering best in Saturday night's final of the Ladbrokes National Sprint Championship according to Tom Dailly.
Dailly, whose wife Andrea trains Australia's fastest greyhound, said yesterday: "We did not really want to run Fernando Bale in the Victorian final at Sandown on August 6 when he finished third on Margins.
"But he had to go around to qualify for a start in this Saturday's big race.
"Fernando Bale has had a long, hard campaign and badly needed a freshen up so under normal circumstances we would not have started him at Sandown.
"Since then Fernando Bale has been freshened right up and we are confident he will be back to his top form this week.
"I'm not concerned about him drawing box five, actually I rather like the five alley at Wentworth Park.''
Dailly was buoyed when I pointed out that the greyhounds drawn each side of Fernando Bale were not renowned for their early brilliance.
But while Fernando Bale's connections are happy with their dog's box five draw, those associated with Victoria's state final winner Margins are very disappointed to see their greyhound in box eight.
Jamie Ennis, whose wife Brooke trains Margins, said yesterday: "We can't see how Margins is going to get around his rivals from out there.
"He is an eight to 10 lengths better greyhound than when we brought him to Sydney in the autumn for the Golden Easter Egg and we would have given him a terrific chance had he drawn inside.
"But he will need a lot of luck to win from box eight.
"Apart from Fernando Bale, I think Bessy Boo is going to be hard to toss.
"He looks well positioned in box two and while someone said he got a lucky run at the first turn before winning the NSW final at Wenty, you can only say dogs are lucky so many times.
"Good dogs make their own luck and Bessy Boo is one of them.''
Trainer Tony Brett was "rapt'' in Keybow's blistering 29.63sec solo trial at Wentworth Park last Saturday night and the Queensland representative looks well drawn in box three.
Keybow posted slick splits of 5.42sec, 13.64sec and 17.78sec on the way to his 29.63 performance and Brett said later: "That was a great effort because I set him a big task.
"I was tossing up whether to bring him to Sydney to trial because the dog has obviously had plenty of Wentworth Park experience.
"But he had not been around Wenty for a long time so I thought it wise to refresh his memory.
"We left Brisbane at six o'clock Saturday morning so drove directly to Wentworth Park, got him out of the car, and sent him around.''
Traditional Queensland versus NSW rivalry will be put aside for Keybow's owner Kelvin Lean, who is bringing a big cheer squad to Wentworth Park on Saturday night.
"I am chartering a bus and bringing 20 mates with me to cheer on Keybow,'' Lean said.
"Through all the live-baiting dramas Keybow lost five months of racing and instead of contesting group races had to perform three stewards' trials so it has been a frustrating and expensive year.''
Lean bred Keybow by mating his bitch Key Exit with Take The Kitty, and whelped the 2014 Perth Cup winner in the back yard of his East Maitland home.
Bessy Boo's trainer Christine Proctor was thrilled to see her Peter Mosman Classic winner draw close to the rails in box two.
"He drew wide when he finished fifth to Chica Destacada in the 2014 National Sprint Championship in Perth,'' Proctor said.
"But apart from the bad draw he was racing at Cannington, a track he was not accustomed to, so this year is different.
"Bessy Boo is a one in a million greyhound and I've said all along that I will never get another anywhere near as good as him.
"He is such a fantastic chaser, he gives you 100 per cent every time he steps onto the track.''
Bessy Boo was bought as a puppy as an engagement present for her owner Ashley Wilson, who knew so little about greyhounds she gave the male dog a female name.
"When Ashley brought Bessy Boo to our place with the registration papers I pointed out that he was a dog, not a bitch, but when I explained the rigmarole involved in changing it she decided to leave the name stand,'' Christine Proctor's husband Alan said.
Alex's Entity, trained by 24-year-old Ben Rawlings, will represent SA on Saturday night and trialled a nippy 29.99sec at WP last Saturday.
"He is the fastest dog I have trained but is a shocking beginner so will need luck in running,'' Rawlings said.
Alex's Entity's sectional times in his WP trial were 5.57sec, 13.93 and 18.09sec while Tasmania's Breaker's Tip trialled in 30.22sec after posting splits of 5.54sec, 14.07sec and 18.27sec.
Breaker's Tip is prepared by legendary Tasmanian trainer Garry Fahey but looks to have the job ahead after drawing box six.
Alex's Entity rails well so is also poorly positioned in box seven while WA representative Nero Bolt has box four.
"He does not have great early pace but is clever at picking his way through the field,'' Nero Bolt's trainer Nick Minutillo said.
Peter Spiteri, owner of the Anthony Azzopardi-trained NSW representative Jack Kade, is excited "just to be in the final.''
Said Spiteri: "I probably would have preferred box eight for Jack Kade but I'm certainly not complaining about getting box one.
"Jack Kade has terrific early pace so is a chance in any race he contests , but I honestly don't care how he goes on Saturday, just to have my first starter in a group one event like this is a dream come true.''
My selections are Fernando Bale 1, Bessy Boo 2, Keybow 3, Jack Kade 4.
Box draw is 1 Jack Kade (NSW) 2 Bessy Boo (NSW) 3 Keybow (Q'ld) 4 Nero Bolt (WA) 5 Fernando Bale (Vic.) 6 Breaker's Tip (Tas.) 7 Alex's Entity (SA) 8 Margins (Vic.) with reserves Tap Out Rose and La Grand Logie from NSW.
See, Jeff Collerson's Ladbrokes Nationals Distance preview here