Harry Buchanan’s Runner By Runner Preview: The Sandgroper

This Thursday night all eyes are on Cannington for the first leg of the TABtouch Western Trilogy.

The greyhounds begin proceedings with The Sandgroper and we have gathered what can only be described as a stellar field of group 1 sprinters. A tremendously intriguing contest awaits and the anticipation is reaching fever pitch now with the race just over 24 hours away.


BOX 1 – BIG ENERGY (Jacqueline Greenough) 

Fawn Dog | Mintbet

35 starts: 15-7-0

The current favourite for the Sandgroper after his scintillating record breaking trial and then drawing the prized rails box……but is it as prized as what many believe?? Whilst his record off box 1 is superb, his 5.44 in his trial means he gets crossed here or at least challenged strongly early by the 3. He has been known to come from off the arm and while that could be what’s needed here, this isn’t a field he really wants to be giving start to at all. A slingshot step at box rise will go a long way to offsetting his first task of holding these out but at the current quote and fact that box 1 at Cannington is unforgiving when dwelling in the slightest, he is just too short for mine albeit he will go in the numbers. He has some electrifying wins on a number of tracks and experience here in the past will see him awfully hard to stop, but he will have company early, that company wants the fence and wants it bad. This run to the first turn will decide his fate. Can win, will go close if he does everything right, but the early section leaves a little too many questions in a star studded field like this. Never the less a wonderful chance and will give a huge sight no matter what.

BOX 2 – MORTON (Jason Sharp)

Black Dog | TABtouch

24 starts: 14-3-3

Gifted young dog who has had a limited preparation for this with only 1 start in 8 weeks. That run was outstanding though behind a flying Yachi Bale when he led and was run down late. He has seen this circuit with a fair trial at his first look and while his early section and overall time need improving for this, he is more than capable of doing so. Usually a good beginner, there are times where he can step just a fraction slowly and that would be a huge issue here. Conversely, he can also come out running and while that will assist to make life hard for the red, this bloke is another who has the dog in 3 to worry about. He runs the time, he has the ability, he is a winner, but I just feel his preparation has not been what’s needed to win this caliber of race. Would need an all-time early split to lead but if he doesn’t, he could run into it up the back and hit the placings anyway a little luck. He just may need a little too much of that and happy to risk him here.

BOX 3 – SUNSET FRAZIER (David Hobby)

White & Black Dog | Aaron Bain Racing-Summit Bloodstock

15 starts: 8-3-2

The sole WA runner who has a Herculean task ahead of him to stave off the interstate onslaught. He has also lost his way a little in recent times with some steady efforts at Mandurah getting beaten in races much easier than this. There may have been excuses though because he came out last Thursday to trial 29.54 which is his fastest run around here yet. He may not be the best dog, he is certainly not the strongest with his run home his Achillies heel, but what he does have, the others don’t, and that’s the first and second split records around here over this trip. There is early speed, there is dazzling early speed, then there is this bloke. His turn of foot off the mat is unrivalled and is as electrifying as you will see. Can sometimes dwell at box rise but from this draw, he will still drop the pedal and show that turn of foot to challenge for the arm. If he does step, he is simply unleadable. Will struggle to hold some of these late but he will determine where this field lands and he will cause one almighty headache for the two dogs inside him. Could hold on for a place and happy to risk because of his last section stitch, but he will give you a sight on the arm if he spears out. 

BOX 4 – MEPUNGA SMOKEY (Jeff Britton)

Blue Dog | RAM Racing Syndicate

36 starts: 14-5-6

Classy Victorian who was here for the Perth Cup series and asserted his dominance on heat night with a 29.58 all the way victory. His first split was only fair but he mustered very quickly and never looked like stopping. He then delivered arguably the run of the final coming from last and wide to make sustained ground to only go under 1.75L in the end. Has a will to win and his draw is not bad if he can step his best here because the dog inside him will ensure he gets a charmed run to the fist turn. Can lead or come from behind but my concern is the dog outside him here and I just feel he may not have the pace to drive through early and hold a few of these out. That will then see him land in no mans land and his task becomes much harder. Definite frame hitter here if he is running into it up the back as he just keeps on coming. Not sure about where he gets to so happy to leave albeit reluctantly.

BOX 5 – FERNANDO PHIL (Michelle Mallia)

White and Blue Brindle Dog | Sportsbet

27 starts: 9-7-3

There is a smokie in every race and here he is. Has come from relevant obscurity over the past 6 months to a more than capable elite performer. Had a hit and run mission on the trial track last week here and went well considering he didn’t step the best and had a slight trip up on the mat. He then darted around Cannington like the professional he is to stop the clock at 29.6 and change. Natural improvement, his good early speed and a favourable map says he should not be dismissed here. If he was the first dog to challenge the 3 up the back, his chances increase dramatically. 29.64 Meadows, 29.25 Sandown, sub 27 Horsham tells you all need to know about his ability on the arm. Will be ready to run the race of his life and will get his chance if he does everything right. Great EW show at the quote and if you like him, don’t be scared to back him. He won’t let you down.

BOX 6 – HECTOR FAWLEY (Lisa Cockerell)

Blue dog | Ladbrokes

54 starts: 20-8-6

All of these dogs are blessed with V8 engines and like most V8s, they chew the fuel up quickly. That’s why this bloke uses the premium unleaded and his tank is just a little deeper than most when it comes to the middle and business ends of a race. Dazzled in his trial here last Saturday going 29.44 and that wins this if the red doesn’t lead and this bloke gets clear running. However his chances are one dimensional here and he has no options for anything else. He has to miss the start and go straight over heels to the fence…….and wait. That’s his best chance of obtaining a first turn run where he can get some sort of crack at them up the back. Nothing will smash this line harder and depending on who he has to get past, will determine how close he goes to winning or placing. He’s just to good and too versatile to dismiss here and he goes into the numbers at a great EW price.

BOX 7 – TROOPER TEARS (Robert Britton)

Black dog | Total Container Solutions, Team Britton

26 starts: 13-5-0

His chances hinged on him drawing wide and the first part of his mission has been delivered. There is only one better box he could have drawn and he now becomes a major and real threat to this field. Has a 5.40 early split, tick. Has gone 29.39 overall, huge tick. Has a superior record from outside boxes, tick. Takes a little right at box rise but that may not be so pronounced from the wide draw. Once the lids rise, he will avalanche his way down to the first turn and while there will be plenty going on near the fence, he will hold a high line and stay well away from it. If he’s the first one chasing the 3, the 3 is gone. If he’s the first one to challenge the red, we have a race, and if he’s the first one to to get the arm or get it at any stage of the race, the Sandgroper is going back to Victoria. He will arrive “weapons hot” and deliver a knockout blow with any luck at all and goes on top in this years Sandgroper.

BOX 8 – EXPLICIT (Jason Thompson)

Black dog | Punters HQ

19 starts: 15-3-0

Emerging superstar sprinter who goes into this with more than his fair share of challenges. He was dealt the joker in the box draw with there being no worse draw for him outside Trooper Tears. Box 8 at Cannington is tough at the best of times so he will need every one of his all star qualities to win this. Runs ridiculous times, has an incredible will to win and an imposing record from just 19 starts, but he trialled only fairly on the same night as Hector Fawley and while improvement will be forthcoming, I’m just not sure there is enough for him to win this. Dogs like him find a way to win however so he can’t be entirely ignored here and winning this would confirm his megastar status, but in a race where you need everything to go right, I just don’t know how he gets across here. Massive trouble would be his only chance to sweep around and take up the running but it’s just too big of an ask. While it could be a mistake, I’m going to risk him this time. He just has too much to do.


Up and coming Perth Cup winner, but no. These are better than him and most certainly faster. He will get better and next year might be his go.


Would need a similar run to Hector Fawley with luck from the back. Stayer who would have to get a lot of trouble to win. Not this time if he starts.


Wonderful edition of The Sandgroper for 2024. The 7 got my attention at the box draw and i have been unable to find strong cases to go against him since even though I have tried. Boxed to give a great sight here for the reasons outlined above. Just needs a good step and he’s in this up to his neck. Big Energy must go in. Even if he is crossed, the draw just packs too much power and he has the class to hold a spot close enough and be in the finish. Hector Fawley will be descending from the clouds here and he can win. Just needs that small bit of luck at the first turn and his work begins. Fernando Phil the smokie here and I for one won’t be surprised if he finds himself challenging for the arm at some stage. Will go super if he does. The other 4 can win and it be no surprise but they have enough against them for it not to be their year for mine. Great race, can’t wait.

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