Photo Caption:Westdale Bandit and his connections were all smiles after taking out the Dawesville Cup in March.
Up and coming sprinter Westdale Bandit makes his city debut at Cannington on Saturday night and Trainer Andrew McLaren is quietly confident his talented charge can prove hard to beat in a heat of the Keith Harding Canning Trophy.
The newly renamed series which pays tribute to the Hall Of Fame trainer Keith Harding is for city grade 5 chasers and McLaren picked out the race as a nice challenge for the son of Kinloch Brae and Bluey’s Fate.
“He has been racing really well at Mandurah and he really has earned a crack at some of the tougher races in town now.” McLaren said.
Westdale Bandit’s recent form certainly backs up McLaren’s comments with the brindle sprinter winning his last three starts over the 490 metres in the times 27.57 seconds, 27.50 seconds and last time out in a slashing 27.23 seconds.
Only the elite sprinters break the 27.40 second barrier over 490 metres at Mandurah and the last chaser to record a time in the 27.20’s was National Sprint Champion West On Augie.
Making the performance even more impressive was the fact that the best 405 metre time of the night was shared between Bago Coops and What a Hoot at 22.82 while the next best 490 metre time was that of Zoom Tux who ran second behind Westdale Bandit in 27.71 seconds.
“I knew he was going well but I was pleasantly surprised when I saw the time he ran.” McLaren said.
“They hadn’t been running quick times on the night so to see him run in the 27.20’s was a hot run.”
“The last dog I had run those sorts of times in a race over the 490 metres was Yunderup Doza who was a tremendous campaigner.”
“If this guy goes on to achieve anything like Doza did we are all in for an exciting time heading forward.” McLaren added.
Westdale Bandit has drawn ideally in box one, a draw he is yet to be beaten from after three attempts.
The only genuine query heading in to the run is how he will handle the Cannington circuit at his first look on race night.
“You never know until they go out there and do it but he did do plenty of his education work and early trialling at Cannington as a youngster so he shouldn’t have too many problems adapting.” McLaren suggested.
The other outstanding aspect of Westdale Bandit’s recent Mandurah victory was his raw early speed with his first split of 5.77 seconds also only reserved for the top echelon from the sprint ranks.
“He heads into the race with plenty of confidence and has a nice draw. I’ll be very disappointed if he doesn’t run well.” McLaren said.
McLaren will also have Yunderup Lauren coming from box five in the first heat and Westdale Anne from box eight in heat three.
“Yunderup Lauren is really looking for an inside draw and her assignment appears tough in a strong field from a middle draw.” McLaren offered.
“Westdale Anne went around on Wednesday night and missed the start badly which ruined her chances.” McLaren said.
“Her best is pretty good though and if she happened to nail the start and get across she could give a bit of cheek.” McLaren added.
“Anne’s litter sister Jade’s Blade has drawn box one and she looks tough to beat.” McLaren concluded.
On Friday night McLaren heads to Mandurah with just the sole representative Alfa Tonic drawn box six in the Free To All over the 490 metres.
The veteran of 67 starts has recorded 18 wins and 31 placings and heads into the race with placings at three of his last four starts.
“Alfa should enjoy having a vacant box on his inside as it will give him room to muster into a forward spot early in the race.” McLaren said.
“He is better known over the 405 metres but he hasn’t had a lot of luck over that trip the last few starts and a change might do him good.” McLaren added.
“There are some nice dogs in the race but with a clear run I can see him being very competitive.” McLaren concluded.