CLASSY distance greyhound Where Art Thou proved she is able to mix it with the state’s best over the sprint trip when scoring a dominant win in a heat of the Group 2 Richmond Oaks (535m) on Friday night.
The black bitch was having just her second run back from an injury-enforced spell and stepped fairly from box two before dropping back towards the rear of the field in the charge to the winning post on the first occasion.
Railing strongly, the daughter of Where’s Pedro and Amnesia was able to slip into third spot through the catching pen and into the back straight before hooking to the outside, charging past Bowlin’ Spinnaz (box three) and setting off in pursuit of the leader, Kilkee May (box one).
Around the home turn it was a race between two, with Where Art Thou levelling up with the leader and sprinting clear to score by three-and-a-half lengths in a slick 30.48.
Trained by Kayla-Jane Coleman, the promising staying greyhound has now won 13 of her 27 starts, including six from nine wearing the black and white stretch vest.
Group 1 National Futurity winner Striker Light (box three) was a sensational winner of the opening Oaks heat, defeating fellow Victorian Up Hill Jill (box eight) in 30.65.
Despite missing the start and finding early trouble, the Brett Bravo-trained bitch was able to muster pace, circling her way into second spot behind Up Hill Jill around the first turn.
Upon balancing up, Striker Light put the paw to the floor, exploding to the front swinging for home and surging clear to score by one-and-three-quarter lengths on the line.
Mitcharlie Mia will be aiming to make it back-to-back wins in the feature after taking out the third heat for trainer Anthony Azzopardi.
The daughter of Don’t Knocka Him and Proper Lucy won the race in 2016 and seemed to relish being back at Richmond, exploding from box one and leading all the way in 30.61.
The fourth and final qualifier was also won by a red-rugged chaser, with Mumma Josie overcoming an early challenge from Utah Miss (box five) to record a determined 30.71 win.
Trained by Jeff Britton, Mumma Josie is a daughter of Barcia Bale and Charming Louise and has won won 18 of her 59 starts with an additional 17 minor placings.
Also run on Friday night were four heats of the Group 2 Richmond Derby. The first heat was taken out by Group 2 Gosford Cup victor Barking Bad (box one) which was able to hold off a series of late challenges from his rivals to defeat Winsome Mission (box eight) in 50.57.
A son of Bella Infrared and Ebby Miss, Barking Bad should be better for the run which was his first race track appearance since running second in the Group 2 Bulli Cup last month.
Wicked Warrior was the punter’s elect in the second qualifier, but looked in all sorts of trouble after an average beginning from box four. Meanwhile, second favourite Mack Tux (box one) went to a clear lead, stretching out five lengths clear of his rivals down the back.
However, Wicked Warrior managed to weave his way through the pack, sprinting into second spot around the home turn, levelling up with the leader half way down the straight and finishing too strongly in 30.50.
Time honours went to Patch Adam in the third heat, with the Max Rimmer-trained dog mustering enough pace to take the lead in the early stages. Once in front it was a case of times and margins, with the 32.6-kilogram sprinter charging to the line to defeat Nangar Flame (box four) by three-and-a-half lengths in a slick 30.41.
The final qualifier was another quality event, but when the lids flew open NSW superstar Ritza Lenny (box eight) made it a one act affair, defeating a gallant El Magnifico (box seven) in a fast time of 30.60.
The blue dog was only fairly away but was able to muster plenty of pace in the run to the first turn, taking control of the race early and proving far too slick in the run to the line.
The finals of the Group 2 Richmond Oaks and Derby will be run next Friday night and are worth $40,000 to winning connections.
2017 Group 2 Richmond Oaks – box draw
1 – Mumma Josie
2 – Where Art Thou
3 – Mitcharlie Mia
4 – Up Hill Jill
5 – Kilkee May
6 – Utah Miss
7 – Uno Arjo
8 – Striker Light
9 – Megalodon
10 – Ebby Chance
2017 Group 2 Richmond Derby – box draw
1 – El Magnifico
2 – Barking Bad
3 – Mack Tux
4 – Winsome Mission
5 – Wicked Warrior
6 – Ritza Lenny
7 – Patch Adam
8 – Nangar Flame
9 – Unlawful Entry
10 – Paua To Rush