Greyhound enthusiasts are gearing up for a gigantic weekend of racing, with four Group 1 finals to be staged in two different states.
It begins on Friday night at The Gardens with the National Derby and National Futurity finals. Both races - open to greyhounds whelped after July 1 2011 - have attracted budding stars, chasing the $75,000 first prize.
The girls are up first in the National Futurity, with early favourite, the Mark Gatt-trained Ritza Hattie ($1.80 with TAB.com.au Fixed Odds) jumping from box eight. In last week’s semi-final, the daughter of Bombastic Shiraz and Midnight Flare was slowly away from box two, but showed tremendous field sense to rail strongly around the home turn, assume the lead from the Jason Mackay-trained Zipping Delta ($7.00) and score in 29.55s.
Smashing Sally ($4.50) is the second favourite after drawing box two. The Neil Falk-trained chaser showed tenacity to win her heat a fortnight ago, before being run down in her semi by Little Satisfies ($18) when leading from the pink.
Gatt also trains the favourite in the National Derby with the freakish Boyce Road ($1.90) coming up with box one. Despite only scraping into the final following an unlucky run in his semi, the son of Collision has already shown potential beyond his age by qualifying for the Group 1 Paws of Thunder last month. Gatt’s other finalist, Ritza Raider ($15) will jump from box seven.
Evil Punk ($2.90) is the second elect after his 29.59s semi win, and, after drawing ideally in box two, James Coyle’s sprinter will be looking to use his blistering early speed to find the front and shoot away.
Semi winner Zipping Brock and heat winner Waymore’s Blues share the third line of betting ($7.00) and will jump from boxes eight and four respectively.
On Saturday night the Group One attention turns to Cannington for the Sky Racing Perth Cup and the Sky Racing Galaxy.
Amazingly, leading WA trainer Linda Britton has qualified five runners across both finals!
Britton will put the collar on four in the Sky Racing Perth Cup, including race favourite Star Recall ($3.70 with TAB.com.au Fixed Odds) which jumps from box eight. The daughter of dual Perth Cup winner High Earner was all class in her heat last week, overcoming box five with ease to land a 30.38s victory. Litter sister High Recall ($7.50) led all the way from an identical draw to his sister in 30.42s, and has the same box this week in the $140,000 to the winner feature.
Britton’s third runner Zelemar Fever - the only runner in the field to have broken 30 seconds at Cannington - is great value at $7.50 despite jumping from box six, while her other runner, Saving Bundles ($18) is also value from the cherry. Britton also has $51 roughie Reverberate in the Sky Racing Galaxy.
Paul Stuart famously won the Perth Cup and Galaxy last year with Dyna Nalin and Miata and has a chance to do it again with Hillbilly Flash ($3.90) jumping from box four in the Cup and Ash Flash ($4.80) exiting the pink in the Galaxy.
The favourite is Born Ali ($2.20) which clocked the fastest of the four heats last Saturday. The consistent bitch has drawn the rails for the $80,000 feature with fellow heat winner Sweet It Is ($6.50) drawn beside her.
Victorian Dyna Willow starts from box three and looks excellent value at $6.00, having been recently mixing it successfully with the best stayers in the country in a host of feature races over the half mile.
Grade B - Ballymore Eustace Handicap Hurdle
Grade B - Three.ie H'cap Steeplechase
G1 - Ryanair Nov Chase
G1 - Ladbrokes Champion Stayers Hurdle
G1 - Nz Oaks