Neil Staines admits he had some apprehension about putting his young sprinter Lightning Vision back into the TAB Million Dollar Chase series after watching him endure a brutal welcome to open company racing at Dapto.
At the time a veteran of just five starts – four of those wins – Staines entered Lightning Vision in the Dapto heats of the Chase, but it all came unstuck on the first turn when he was checked and knocked out of the race.
The dog was fine, but Staines not as much, but after some hesitation, he elected to try again and entered the Goulburn heats of the series, his home track.
On Sunday afternoon, for the second year running, Staines had a qualifier for the Million Dollar Chase semi-finals, after Lightning Vision rung up win number five, charging home to take out the Goulburn Regional Final.
“Yeah I was a bit hesitant at first, but when the dust settled and I had a chat to the owner Jack (Savaglia) and the wife, we all agreed we would keep working through, and it looks like we have pulled the right string so far,” Staines said.
A year ago Staines qualified Bogan Doonie for the semi-finals and after leading most of the way, she was run down near the post by Victorian Azkaban. She also campaigned in this year’s series but couldn’t reach the semi-finals unlike her kennelmate.
Staines admitted that he had hoped they had qualified Lightning Vision earlier in the series so they could plan a campaign leading into the semi-finals, but the young dog has been Wentworth Park and impressed.
“It was a bit later in the series than we had wanted, but after the Dapto run we went to Wentworth Park and he had a run there (finishing second to China O’Brien) and he’s been there and had a look in a trial as well, and we were over the moon with his trial there.
“I’m really happy with the way he’s doing his work, and I feel he’s really heading in the right direction. He’s professional in everything he does for such a young dog.”
While he has run a sizzling 24.60s there, Lightning Vision clocked 24.95s in winning the Goulburn Regional Final.
Second went to the early leader Black Maxie who flew the lids and led until the last 20m before Lightning Vision picked him up.
Victorian Immediate finished third and is now another to qualify for trainer Deb Coleman, who, with her partner Rob Camilleri, now have three semi-finalists, with Zipping Norton and Awesome Catch qualifying last Sunday in Nowra.
The dog again looked all at sea on the Goulburn track. He loomed up the leaders on the top turn but then got lost and ran wide, allowing the leaders Black Maxie and Lightning Vision to slip away.
He steadied and again charged at the pair in the home straight, but ran out of track. His performance was a very good one and it will be interesting to see how he handles Wentworth Park.
The honour of being the last greyhound to qualify for the semi-finals out of the regional events, went to Mark Gatt’s Tennessee Tiger, who ran home strongly to grab fourth. He will now join his brother Shanjo Prince in the semi-finals, the former qualifying at Richmond when second to Jaro Bale in that venue’s Regional Final.
The 56 semi-finalists from the 14 regional venues have now been decided and all will be at Wentworth Park on October 11 for the Million Dollar Chase semis. They will be joined by eight qualifiers from next Saturday’s City Qualifiers at Wentworth Park.
From there eight semi-finals will be run with the winners advancing for a shot at a $1 million first prize on October 18.