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The Maturity Classic begins on Saturday night at The Meadows with twelve heats of the age-restricted 525 metre Group One event on the program.
The best 96 greyhounds whelped on or after 1 January 2012 were eligible for the event which has a grand-prize of $100,000 to the winner. The series is conducted over three weeks so these 96 will be whittled down to 32 with those 32 competing in the semi-finals next week.
Here is a look at the best chances in each heat:
Heat One – Race 1 at 7:14pm
Mepunga Hayley (2) is fresh off a fourth placing in the Group Two WA Oaks and returns to The Meadows where she has two wins and a placing from four attempts at the distance. She has a best of 30.01 and seven career wins overall. She will need to make amends for her last appearance back at The Meadows in June when she finished fourth after beginning slowly from box two. Prior to that, she had been on fire at Sandown.
White Spyro (7) is coming off a third-placing in the Group Two Bendigo Cup. The speedy white and black bitch is a quick beginner so she gets her chance in this race. She has won at the track in 30.21, but she is yet to win from box seven.
Fully Charged (6) has a great record at the track, running unplaced just once in six starts. His best time to date is 30.33, so he has to do everything right from box six.
Grand Faith (6) looks to have his share of ability but his recent form has been inconsistent. The son of El Grand Senor and Test Of Faith (Bombastic Shiraz-Charlsyn) is unbeaten at The Meadows from two starts and has a best time of 30.14. In both wins at The Meadows he has led all the way from box eight both times.
Heat Two – Race 2 at 7:38pm
A number of dogs in this race have experience at the track. Yodeller (5) has a great record with six wins and six placings from 14 starts. The Lonesome Cry – On Shore (Waterview Star – Bally Kay) dog has recorded a best of 30.13. Prior to last start eighth at Sandown, he had not been out of a place in six starts.
Living Proof (4) has one of the fastest times in the field of 30.04. He ran second to Hooksy at Shepparton at his most recent start. He is strong but will need some luck in the early stages.
Capullo Bale (2) has won five from 12 career starts and has been impressive around tracks like Sale, Geelong, Bendigo and Ballarat. This is the dogs first start at The Meadows and he has drawn well.
Hot Whirl (1) has broken 30 seconds at The Meadows and has the coveted rails draw. She is a risky beginner but if she can lead she will be in this a long way.
The interesting runner in the race is Queenslander Angvella (7). He was a finalist in the Group Two Queensland Derby and has found his way to Peter Dapiran’s kennels. He goes well from the outside and is capable of putting on a good show if things go his way.
Heat Three – Race 3 at 7:57pm
Samus Allen (5) has had an outstanding start to her short career, notching up seven wins from nine starts. The black bitch by Bekim Bale and Blachura Bale (Most Awesome – Hanicka Bale) has won four from five at The Meadows and has stopped the clock at 30.11. She has found trouble her last two starts so she needs to bounce back from that to return to the winner’s circle.
Dyna Glinda (4) hasn’t raced at The Meadows since she won there in May. Since that win her form has been very patchy but she came out and scored a good win at Cranbourne last start. She has two wins and two placings at The Meadows and as such, can’t be ignored.
Take Charge (6) recently competed in the Group Two Bendigo Cup series and finished fourth in his heat behind eventual Bendigo Cup winner Warrior King. He is a consistent beginner and has won at The Meadows in 30.20.
The favourable box draw brings Moot Point (1) into the race. The El Grand Senor and Jacinta Bale (Fortified Rush – Sunray Bale) dog has a top record from box one. He is strong and looks a great each-way chance.
Heat Four – Race 4 at 8:20pm
This is a tough race on paper, with plenty of talented young chasers engaged.
Push It (1) ran third in the Group One Peter Mosman Classic final. She is a smart beginner that has four wins from five starts out of box one. She ran sixth at her first look at the track last week but she had the unfavourable box six draw. She should improve on that.
Frank Furter (5) enjoys racing at The Meadows and has three wins at the track and a best time of 30.18. He is yet to record a win from box five but if he can begin like he has shown in the past, he may be able to overcome the draw.
Ennis Bale (7) also has a good record at The Meadows, winning twice and placing four times from six attempts. His best is 30.11 and he has a good record from wide draws.
Joey Valdez (4) has been unplaced just once in his 14 start career. He has started once at The Meadows for a second placing and that was last week behind All Strung Out. He is one of the chances based on his career form.
Heat Five – Race 5 at 8:40pm
NSW chaser Cosmic Angel (5) found his legs at The Meadows last week, streaking away to score a seven length win in 30.18. That win came from box one and he moves to the squeeze box for this event. He has four wins overall from eight starts and looks to have his fair share of ability.
Wind Whistler (1) is a slow beginner but likes box one. He hasn’t won at The Meadows but has been knocking on the door with two seconds and a third from three starts at the track. The Premier Fantasy and Seminole (Big Daddy Cool – Call Collect) bitch has scored strongly at Sandown Park in recent times.
Connections will be hoping Rue De Kahn (7) gained some benefit from her 30.44 trial at The Meadows last week. She has a steady beginner on her outside so should get some room to move in the early stages of the race. If she can get near the lead, she will be hard to beat.
Bekim Hatrick (8) has been racing over the longer trips with great success. He drops back in distance for this event and he will be powering home at the finish.
Heat Six – Race 6 at 8:57pm
Group Two Bendigo Cup victor and Group One Easter Egg winner Warrior King (1) is the drawcard in this heat. The step back up to 500 metre racing will suit him and he should go well as he has a best of 29.89 at the track.
Boxed next to Warrior King is Shoulders (2) who has had a very successful introduction to racing at The Meadows with two wins and two placings. Both wins have been sub-30 and he just keeps improving for trainer Anthony Azzopardi. He has led all the way in both wins and should be able to give Warrior King a run for his money.
Spring Leaf (6) has won five of her eight career starts and has won five from six at The Meadows. The Spring Gun and Scarlett Cath (Premier Fantasy – Scarlett Spy) bitch has two wins from box six at The Meadows so she is well in contention.
Heat Seven – Race 7 at 9:20pm
Hooksy (2) headlines this heat and after a slick win at Shepparton, he will be the short-priced favourite for this event. He has won at The Meadows in 29.95 and looks hard to beat. He would be considered as one of the favourites for the series.
Deadly Clear (8) has speed to burn as indicated by his 29.12 win at Sandown three starts ago. This is his first start at The Meadows. Overall, he has won six from 17.
Question Bale (5) has not been unplaced in his last eight starts and is a safe beginner. He has three wins from five goes at The Meadows and a best of 30.25. He could very well lead this race.
Heat Eight – Race 8 at 9:40pm
Group One Sapphire Crown winner Oakvale Destiny (6) arrives at The Meadows for her first start at the track. The strong bitch recently finished third in the Group Two WA Oaks and looks like she should handle racing at The Meadows. She just needs a little luck early to put herself in a good position to win the race.
The lightly raced Kerrigan Bale (4) is a last start winner at The Meadows in 30.17. The High Earner and Maple Bale (Spiral Nikita – Vista Bale) bitch has good speed early and if she leads she will prove hard to catch.
Eliza Blanche (8) for the Darren McDonald kennel has been outstanding in her only two career starts. The Radley Bale and Jackpot Return (Bombastic Shiraz – Call Me Cash) bitch has won both her attempts at The Meadows in a heat and final of a maiden event. This will obviously present a big test for her but she has broken 30 seconds both times and has won from box eight.
Lady Goldenpaw (1) has been out of the placings in three of her last four starts but she will relish the return to The Meadows, where she does some of her best work. She has placed in eight of nine at the track. She is yet to win from box one though.
Heat Nine – Race 9 at 10:05pm
Duchess Bale (7) has an unbeaten record at The Meadows, winning six from six and clocking a best of 29.95. With a record like that, she’s hard to go past.
Luca Neveelk (3) will face a new test in his short but exciting career. He has 12 wins from 14 starts and recently made his first Group race final, finishing fifth in the Group Two Bendigo Cup. This is his first start at The Meadows.
Waymore’s Blues (6) has been freshened for this event. His last start was in NSW back in June. The Collide and Casey’s Angel (Spiral Nikita – Leprechaun Yap) dog had been racing well in NSW and now returns back to Victoria, where he first started his career. He has got two wins at The Meadows to his credit and a best of 30.32. The poor box draw may work against him.
Heat 10 – Race 10 at 10:25pm
My Bro Fabio (6) is a litter-mate to Warrior King and has had his fair share of success. He has three wins at The Meadows for a best of 29.69 and if he can go anywhere near that, he looks the winner. He is very strong and will need some luck in the early stages, but he is fast.
Bayman Bale (4) is a consistent type that has two wins at The Meadows. He is capable of showing early speed and should get some room early with a slow beginner on his inside.
Stilton Blue (2) is a NSW chaser that has turned up in Rob Britton’s kennels. In Britton’s astute hands we may see this dog go to the next level. The draw in this heat however, may not suit him. The Where’s Pedro – She’s A Player (Go Wild Teddy – Nimuay) dog likes to use the track and doesn’t have a good record from an inside draw. He is also having his first look at the track under race conditions.
If Stilton Blue elects to use the track it may bring the steady beginner He Isn’t Really (1) into the race. He has been racing over the 600 metre distance at The Meadows with success so clearly likes the track. He is strong and the room early may be just what he needs.
Heat 11 – Race 11 at 10:42pm
Dyna Orion (1) had been out of form until his 30.02 win at The Meadows last week from box one. He has won five from nine at the track and is unbeaten from box one.
Campaspe Will (4) is another with a good record at the track. He is returning from a spell, which was needed as his form had dropped off. He has won 11 from 22 overall and has clocked 29.96 at The Meadows.
Jubilea Bale (6) could surprise from box six. She has recorded a solid 29.98 at the track. Her only issue is that she can be hit and miss at box-rise but if she leads she will get her chance.
Highbury (8) has a perfect record from box eight; two starts for two wins. He has won just one from five at The Meadows but he is racing in good form having won his last two (Healesville and Bendigo).
Heat 12 – Race 12 at 11:00pm
Lonesome Jett has had a flawless start to her career and gets the chance to take the next step here. The Lonesome Cry – Seize The Moment (Awesome McLaren – Flashy Fool) bitch has faced the starter three times for three wins and has led all the way in each. She has recorded the wins at Shepparton, Geelong and Bendigo. This is her first City start but she looks up to the challenge.
All Strung Out (8) possesses a flying finish but will need some luck from the wide draw. He won at The Meadows last start in 30.11 and has never been unplaced in his nine start career.
Humphrey Bale (3) has been around The Meadows 21 times for six wins. So, if experience counts for anything, he should be in contention. The inside draw suits him and he has been able to find the lead in other races.
Seabrook Sam (5) has won four of his last six starts and had his first start at The Meadows last week. He found trouble to finish 19 lengths last. He obviously has ability but has to overcome the squeeze draw.
Dyna Ostranda (1) has only managed three wins from 15 starts but has placed on 10 other occasions. He has been a consistent place-getter around Sandown and Cranbourne in recent starts so should be considered an each-way chance.