FIFTEEN Two clinched time honours in the heats of the Group 2 Launceston Cup (515m) on Monday night with a slick 29.78 performance from box seven.
Beginning fairly, the Dale Hammersley-trained greyhound was able to work his way up on the outside of Black Chevelle (box six) around the first turn before accelerating down the back, taking the lead and sprinting clear.
Despite a late challenge from Penny’s Roman (box eight) in the home straight, Fifteen Two was able to cling on to score by a length on the line. He has now won 14 of his 40 starts, all of which have been in Tasmania.
Pantera Nera will probably be the big improver out of the heats, with the Victorian star having his first start over the track and trip in heat two. The son of Milldean Panther and Go Jessie’s Girl stepped well from box five, charging to the front of the pack in the early stages.
The recent Devonport Cup winner was in a race of his own swinging for home, defeating the classy Zipping Quinsee (box seven) by two-and-three-quarter lengths in a nippy 29.86.
Former top class chaser Diego Bale was also having his first start at Launceston on Monday night, having recently made the move to the Apple Isle.
Now in the care of prominent conditioner Mick Stringer, Diego Bale was well away from box one, surging underneath Amity Class (box three) around the first turn to take up the top spot.
Once out in front it was a case of times and margins, with the 34-kilogram powerhouse defeating Katey Roman (box four) by one-and-three-quarter lengths in 29.92.
Stringer won two heats on Monday night, his other winner being Justifia which triumphed in a moderate 30.43 from box six.
The only other heat winner to break the 30 second barrier was Wynburn Toozie in the fourth qualifier.
Prepared by Ben Englund, the black bitch quickly skipped up to challenge for the lead in the run through the catching pen, dashing away from her rivals.
A well-bred daughter of Where’s Pedro and Miss Hetti, the speedster stopped the clock in 29.92, notching up her 13th career win at start 27.
Chief Jetpilot, which ran second in the Group 1 Hobart Thousand and fourth in the Group 3 Devonport Cup, has made another big final after claiming his heat on Monday night.
The brindle dog was slow to begin and found himself relegated to last through the catching pen when trying to go for an inside run. Despite the bother, Chief Jetpilot kept chasing hard, weaving through the pack down the pack to sit in third spot turning for home.
The Ted Medhurst-trained chaser switched back to the inside in the straight, storming through along the fence to capture the lead and defeat Storm Chief (box one) by half-a-length in 30.39.
Locally bred greyhound Bobby Bound will also be one to watch throughout the series after winning the opening heat of the night.
The son of former star Decembrist and Disney Bound overcame a poor beginning from box two, railing through the first turn and back straight to sit in second spot at the half-way point.
Despite spotting the leader Dark Casio (box six) seven lengths off the back, the black dog produced a strong performance to hit the lead in the run to the line, winning by one-and-one-quarter lengths in 30.01.
The remaining heat of the night was won by Billy Jo for trainer Peter Dalton. Stepping from box six, the daughter of Dyna Lachlan and Blitzing Chloe sat on the outside of Drum Grohl (box four) around the first turn before switching back to the fence down the back straight and sprinting clear.
The St Leonards-based greyhound was too strong in the run to the line, passing the post three lengths clear in a respectable 30.05.
Four semi-finals of the Group 2 Launceston Cup will be conducted next Monday night, with the top two progressing through to the $40,000-to-the-winner final on February 14.