EVA Diva will be aiming to secure her third consecutive win since resuming from a month long freshen-up when she contests the first heat of the Group 2 Richmond Oaks (535m) on Friday afternoon.
The daughter of Fear Zafonic and Romantic Diva is the $3.60 favourite to win her qualifier with Bet365 following on from two impressive victories at Wentworth Park in recent weeks.
Trainer Mario Abela said he is happy with how his white and black chaser has returned to the track after finishing fourth in a heat of the Group 1 Paws of Thunder in early January.
“I was a bit disappointed with her run when she ran fourth in a heat of the Paws of Thunder,” Abela told Australian Racing Greyhound.
“I know they were good dogs but I thought she should have run a little bit better, so I gave her a week off as she also had a little bit of a wrist problem, so I worked on that and then started hand slipping her again.
“She has been going well since she has been back and I am hoping she will keep doing so this week.”
Eva Diva has drawn box seven in her heat against a handy field including the likes of In The Moonlight ($4.60), Camden Gossip ($4.60) and Queen Audrey ($9), however Abela is hopeful she will be able to find a nice position early and put herself into the race.
“I am happy to be on the outside,” he said.
“There is a lot of speed underneath her but I am hoping they will bunch up on the inside of her and then she should get a good run around the outside.
“Realistically we’re going to be battling to lead the race, but hopefully she can stay in touch with them around the first turn and run them down because she is very strong.”
Eva Diva is out of the former top stayer Romantic Diva, which Abela trained to win the 2007 Group 2 Wentworth Park Gold Cup, and is thus far the standout chaser in her litter.
However Abela said the 27 kilogram bitch, a winner of 10 of her 20 starts, didn’t always look like being as good as she is now.
“We bred the litter and we sold six and kept four – as it turns out she is the best.
“All of the ones we kept all broke in very well but they never went on with it as good as they should’ve.
“I remember her trialling 23.3 over the 400 at Richmond – you would be battling to win a race with that – but thankfully over time she just starting improving a little bit.
“She is a very competitive little bitch, she seems to go better with better dogs.
“I don’t think she is a brilliant dog but I am very happy with her – she gives you everything she has got.”
With four heats of the Group 2 Richmond Oaks being run on Friday afternoon, Eva Diva will need to finish in the top two to progress through to next week’s $40,000-to-the-winner final.
The series is shaping up to be a cracker, with other contenders including Group 2 Laurels winner Fantastic Skye (heat two box five), Where Art Thou (heat two box six), exciting Northern Rivers prospect Mitcharlie Mia (heat three box eight), Good Odds Angel (heat four number six) and Star Torana (heat four number eight).
Also being run on Friday afternoon are four heats of the Group 2 Richmond Derby (535m). Greyhounds to look out for in that series include Knight Sprite (heat two number seven), Barking Bad (heat three number six), Bessy Boo (heat three number seven) and Brad Hill Billy (heat four number four).
A heat of the Oaks kicks off the night’s proceedings at Richmond this Friday and is set to jump at 7:18pm AEDT.