Ladbrokes Million Dollar Chase (516 metres) low numbers take heat out of the event

CHANCE: Charmaine Roberts and Ange Kilpatrick with Ladbrokes Million Dollar Chase runners Lexie Keeping and Cliff Keeping. Photo: BELINDA SOOLE
CHANCE: Charmaine Roberts and Ange Kilpatrick with Ladbrokes Million Dollar Chase runners Lexie Keeping and Cliff Keeping. Photo: BELINDA SOOLE

“A million-to-one”.

That’s how Dubbo trainer Charmaine Roberts sees her chances in Thursday’s heat of the Ladbrokes Million Dollar Chase (516 metres) at Dawson Park.

But anything can happen in dog racing.

Lexie and Cliff Keeping have drawn boxes one and three respectively, and Roberts says they’ll need that advantage to get over some tough competition.

“They’re really well-drawn but they’re definitely out-classed,” she said, naming Little Digger (Raymond Smith), Midnight Scarlet (David Pringle) and Swiss Maestro (Steven Jones) as the dogs to beat.

Little Digger (box five) alone boasts nine wins at Wentworth Park – the home of the eventual Million Dollar Chase on October 20 – as well wins in all three of his Dubbo starts.

“He’s a very, very good, free-for-all Wentworth Park dog,” Dubbo Greyhound Club president Shayne Stiff said.

What was meant to be a series of heats on Thursday is now being referred to as a prelude, with only eight dogs nominated for the Million Dollar Chase qualifier.

It makes Thursday’s single race something of a dead rubber, with all eight dogs – barring any unforeseen circumstances – set to go around the track again in next Friday’s regional final.

“It’s pretty disappointing for Dubbo, but when you could only contest one regional heat the numbers were always going to be down because there’s not enough dogs that can run 500 (metres) in the area,” Roberts said.

“I’m sure they’ll fine-tune it next year and if we could have the dogs that went to Bathurst come to Dubbo and vice versa, and the other country areas, I’m sure we would have more heats.

“It is good that Dubbo can showcase an event like this and let’s hopefully next year can be bigger and better.”

Stiff said the low numbers could have an “upside”, in paving the way for “lesser dogs” to compete in a regional final.

The quicker dogs have drawn the outside boxes in Thursday’s prelude, Roberts pointed out, while the “mediocre dogs” drew the inside boxes.

“Whether it turns around next week, who knows?” she said. “Anything can happen in dog racing.”

“Once you qualify you’re a 64-to-one chance of winning a million dollars,” Stiff said. “Once you’re in the last 64, it’s dog racing. Boxes play a big part. Wentworth Park is a tricky track, it’s pretty biased to leaders but you still need everything go right on the night, whether the race is worth one dollar or a million.”