Last night we saw our first greyhounds qualify for the GRNSW + Ladbrokes Million Dollar Chase semi-finals, when Rohan Hill and Double Up Dee upset their more fancied opponents and finished first and second in the Bathurst Regional qualifying Final.
Tonight, the series heads north to the NSW Northern Rivers where another two dogs will lock in places at Wentworth Park for the October 12 semis. On that night, 64 dogs will contest eight semis with the winners advancing to the grand final of the series, where on October 20, the winner will leave Wenty with $1 million.
But small steps first.
Like Bathurst, the heat winners are expected to be the ones in the spotlight for the final, and that’s a fair assessment looking on last week’s four heats. But, will it be an upset like at Bathurst?
The favourite is Darren Russell’s flying bitch Snug, who led throughout on a very wet track to win in 30.04s, the fastest time run that night. She has run 29.71s at Lismore, has won five of her past six starts, the blemish coming when a gallant second to Black Forge in a heat of the Group 2 Black Top at Ladbrokes Gardens last month, and, she has had five starts from the rails box – and never lost.
Fellow Queenslander Big Bad Bob, was slowly away in his heat, and despite being last at the first turn, he rounded up his rivals and raced away for a 30.24s win. Like Snug, Bob has gone fast at Lismore, with a 29.72s run to his credit. Like Snug he likes this track, with six wins from eight starts there, and like Snug he’s also in form having won his past three. Drawn out in seven is not perfect, but not the end of the world either.
Ken Staines trains another heat winner, Raven Izmir, who led throughout to win in 30.18s, off the rails draw. And with seven wins from seven starts when drawn the one or two, a similar draw would have seen her pushing Snug for favourtism. But Raven Izmir can handle a wide drawn, in fact her best time in five wins from seven starts at Lismore, a 29.87s, came when she started in box 8. She has only missed a place once when drawn the six, but, is yet to win wearing the green rug. She has speed though and with a little luck early, she can threaten.
The other heat winner was Peter Simpson’s Jonesy who won the final heat of the night last week on a heavy track, yet clocked 30.06s, just shy of Snug’s BON. Jonesy, not a noted fast beginner, got into a nice spot early and powered away for an impressive win. A winner of three of his past four, and six out of nine at Lismore, if Jonesy finds a nice spot behind the leaders early, he’s going to be a threat turning for home.
I think Snug has to be the pick, but if Big Bad Bob can get away and come across with Raven Izmir, I give Dr George Clegg’s dog some hope of running Snug down. Jonesy too has claims if he can possie up early.
As we all know four into two won’t go, and only two out of this race head to Wenty for the semis. It’s set to be yet another intriguing event.
While the Million Dollar Chase Regional Final will highlight the 10-race card, the best bet comes up in race 9, the Ladbrokes Daily Video Stakes over 520m, in the shape of Alpha Iris.
The Garry Geary-trained bitch was racing in fine form with four wins and four placings from eight consecutive starts before last start working her way to the lead only to fall going into the turn on the home bend. She’s has talent and can bounce back here.
While Lismore has the big race on Tuesday, both Goulburn and Ladbrokes Gardens also host meetings today, with plenty of winners to be found at each venue.
At Goulburn, the best on the card arrives in race seven, the Ladbrokes Red Dog Heat over 350m.
Cosmic Blend was having her first start at Goulburn two runs back and on the strength of some previously good form, she went around a $1.20 favourite and never gave her supporters a worry, winning by four and a quarter lengths in a fast 19.68s. She can handle the draw and looks well placed here.
After winning over 350m the week before, Mellcat Lass looked well placed to back it up over 440m last Friday, but after doing work early was unable to go on with it and finished second to Willie Blues in 24.84s. She gets the chance to atone here.
At Ladbrokes Gardens, the best bet appears in race one, the Welcome To Newcastle Greys Maiden over 515m. The checks, Runway Oscar trialed at the Gardens twice in 30.12s and 30.20s, before trialing at Maitland, then going there for his debut, where he led but was run down in 25.16s. This looks an ideal race for him.
Also on the card, Zipping Biddy in race seven, the Mobile Money Stakes over 600m, can give her supporters a good run for their money here. She has been in the money eight times from 13 starts over this trip here and can punch up in the early stages and be looking for the lead, and pinch it in front.