In a simply breath-taking performance last Saturday night, up-and-coming superstar Ritza Hattie produced a carbon copy of her blistering semi-final win with a stunning 29.53 track record run at Nowra.
Going into the final of the $25,000 Group Three Nowra Puppy Classic as the heavy favourite, the daughter of Bombastic Shiraz and proven producer Midnight Flare, didn’t disappoint backers as she stepped beautifully from the four alley to score by 7.25 lengths and set a new track record over the 520m distance. The record was previously held by More Space (29.58), set back in October of 2010.
Ritza Hattie also equaled the first sectional record of 4.31 and as predicted by her astute trainer Mark Gatt, had further improvement heading into the final.
‘Honestly it didn’t surprise me that she run that sort of time. She’s improved around a tenth every week during the series and I think she can still improve some more’
‘She did everything I wanted her too and I got really excited when I saw her in front at the first turn’.
‘Winning that race was awesome, especially after coming second last year. It just makes all the hard work worth it’.
Gatt’s next task for his sensational protégé is this Saturday nights Group One Vic Peters Classic heats at Wentworth Park. Seemingly a large step up in grade is merely a challenge for Ritza Hattie, who will chase her sixth consecutive win when she exists from box five in heat two.
‘She has done everything I’ve asked of her and this will just be a test of her mentality. She has all the physical abilities to be competitive so it will be good experience for her to race against this class of greyhounds’
‘It is a big step up to the next level, but I’m just interested to see how she handles it and hopefully she learns a bit from the experience as well’
‘There’s a lot of hustle and bustle in these types of races, some dogs can handle it and some can’t, only time will tell’ Gatt added.
Despite Ritza Hattie making her debut at the Wentworth Park circuit this weekend, Gatt is confident of her chances from the awkward middle draw.
‘She has trialled at the track and went well so I’m expecting her to go ok if she can overcome the box. She only has to run in the first five to get through to next week so it will be great to see if she can progress further’
‘My main concern will be her handling the hustle and bustle of the race and hopefully she can overcome it and have a shot at some bigger races at the track in the future’
Gatt also has Ritza Liam engaged in heat three, coming up with box five against a hot field including the unbeaten Avondale Porche and Group winner Zipping Willow.
‘You can pretty much forget Ritza Liam’s run last week, he couldn’t get across from that draw and got into a heap of trouble’
‘Again, it’s a big test for him as well, but for me it’s all about the experience and how they handle this kind of field’
Mark Gatt is experiencing a superb run of winners at present, having secured a brilliant victory at headquarters last week with notable distance runner Gradence saluting over the 520m in 29.82. This performance was another illustration of the versatility Gatt possess as a trainer, certain to etch his name into the records books once again in the near future.