VETERAN chaser Brad Hill Billy will be aiming to qualify for his 11th group final when he heads to west of Sydney on Friday afternoon for the heats of the Group 2 Richmond Derby (535m).
Trained by Ray Smith, Brad Hill Billy ran second in the 2016 Richmond Derby, but will be aiming to go one better 12 months later, despite coming into the series at more than four-years-of-age.
Brad Hill Billy will start wearing black in his heat and will meet a talented field including Barking Bad (box one), Wicked Warrior (box four) and Kong (box five), with Smith conceding he will need some luck to overcome the box draw.
“He has won his last two starts so you can’t complain about his form leading into the race, although he hasn’t drawn very well out in box seven,” Smith told Australian Racing Greyhound.
“He has won nearly $300,000 in prize money so there is no doubt that he has got a bit of class about him, but he is over four now and there are some good young pups in the race.
“He will need a bit of luck, but if he can run a place and get a spot in the final that would be great.”
A noted strong finisher, Smith said it is hard to know where Brad Hill Billy will position himself throughout the run.
“It depends what the other dogs in the race do,” he said.
“Sometimes it is better when they come out running and cart him into the race because otherwise if they come out slow and he doesn’t beat them out then he can find a bit of trouble.
“At the end of the day you can do as many speed maps as you like, but often it doesn’t work out how you think.
“I think he should be able to stay out of trouble out wide and he is a run-on type of dog so unless he gets flattened then he should run a good race, for sure.”
Smith also puts the polish on exciting youngster Big Daddy Bee which gave the Forbes mentor his first group 1 winner when winning the National Derby (520m) at Wentworth Park last month.
Big Daddy Bee will jump from box six in the second Richmond Derby heat, facing some sensational types such as El Magnifico (box one), Clock’s Ticking (box eight), Patch Adam (box seven) and Nangar Bear (box eight).
Smith says the brindle dog, also by Kinloch Brae, will need to find a good spot in the early stages in order to make an impact.
“He is very similar to ‘Brad’ – he needs to find the fence at the first turn – he doesn’t have a lot of pace, but he runs on well,” he said.
“He got flattened at Wentworth Park after the Derby and then he ran a nice race behind ‘Brad’ at Richmond last start – I took them both there to have another look at the track and they are both right for this series.
“Box six isn’t ideal, although he should run straight, it just depends on whether he is able to slot into a decent spot or if he finds trouble.”
All up, three heats of the Richmond Derby will be run and won on Friday afternoon as well as four heats of the Group 2 Richmond Oaks.
The Oaks series is also packed with quality, featuring Group 1 National Futurity winner Striker Light (heat one box five), Group 2 Laurels winner Up Hill Jill (heat one box six), classy Victorian Veetee Swift (heat two box one), Ebby Chance (heat two box five), Utah Miss (heat four box four) and Two Jay (heat four box eight).
The first race at Richmond kicks off at 7:12pm on Friday night. Brad Hill Billy is paying $8 fixed with Sportsbet to win his heat of the Richmond Riches which jumps at 7.47pm.