WISE Owl stamped himself as the greyhound to beat in the Group 3 Magic Maiden final (520m) at Wentworth Park on April 15 after claiming time honours in the semi-finals of the $25,000 to the winner series on Wednesday night.
The black dog was only fairly away from box one in the opening qualifier of the night, but was given plenty of room to move in the early stages and was able to muster pace, charging to the front of the field around the first turn.
Once out in front it was a case of times and margins, with the son of Barcia Bale and Clockwise stretching out to score by eight and one quarter lengths in a nippy 29.90.
Running a gallant race to finish second was Fortunes Of Time (box seven) which will also progress through to the final to be run and won on Easter Saturday.
Rusty Memories (box three) started as the punter’s elect in the second semi-final, but when the lids flew open the David Pringle-trained dog dwelt slightly. Flying the lids from box five was Blitzing Lass, which funnily enough had run second to Rusty Memories in their heat the week prior.
However, the daughter of Milldean Panther and Miss Blockbuster showed plenty of improvement on Wednesday night, leading all the way to score in 30.04 for trainer Jodie Van Enkhuyzen.
Semi three was a rough affair, both literally and in terms of the market, with the winner saluting at 30/1. At box rise, winning the jump was Blossom Belle (box two), but the black bitch was quickly joined by Zipping Chang (box five) and King Carmody (box six).
Things got tight into the first turn, with the leading trio inconveniencing each other. Meanwhile, first reserve Bugatti Bender (box seven) was able to slip onto the fence, pushing up to assume the front spot.
Despite the best efforts of his rivals, Bugatti Bender was too strong in the run to the line, finishing a neck ahead of Blossom Belle and a fast finishing Zipping Chang.
Punters bounced back in the fourth and final semi which went to the odds-on favourite. Despite missing the start, Midnight Francis was able to gain momentum from box one, taking the lead and giving else a look-in when clocking a fast 29.94.
The regally bred Set To Storm (box four) ran a nice race to finish second and will get the chance to go one better when he lines up in the final on Saturday week.