UP Hill Jill has been installed as the $2.10 favourite to win next weekend’s Group 1 National Futurity (520m) after a scintillating win in her heat of the feature at Wentworth Park on Saturday night.
Trained in Victoria by David Geall, Up Hill Jill was flawlessly into stride from box two, recording a scorching 5.39 first section in the charge towards the first turn.
Once high-balling out in front it was a case of times and margins, with the daughter of Premier Fantasy and Where’s Demonica stretching out to score by nine-and-three-quarter lengths over Jodie Lee Kade (box seven) in an airborne 29.87.
The winner of December’s Group 2 Laurels at Sandown Park, Up Hill Jill goes into the final having won six of her past seven starts.
She looks ideally poised to take out the $75,000-to-the-winner decider, having drawn box two.
Bookmakers rate fellow Victorian Striker Light as the biggest threat to the favourite after the Brett Bravo-trained flier took out the opening heat of the night.
Jumping from box six, Striker Light was only fairly into stride and got squeezed up early, before making her way to the fence at the winning post.
Once on the rails the classy youngster was able to push up to assume the lead, kicking clear in the run down the back.
Swinging for home and Striker Light was still out in front and, despite a late challenge from Daithy Allen (box three), she was able to hold on to score by three-quarters-of-a-length in a moderate 30.46.
Striker Light has landed the coveted rails alley for the final and is the $2.50 second favourite, whilst Daithy Allen is a $13 shot after coming up with box seven.
Team Bravo managed to qualify two through to the big one next week, their other finalist being Andrea Doria which will jump wearing the blue stretch vest.
The black bitch (box two) was cleanly away at box rise in her heat, mustering pace in the early stages to take control around the first turn.
There was no looking back for Andrea Doria once she landed on the bunny, with the daughter of Collision and Ritza Flare stopping the clock in 30.12 and just under 10 lengths clear of her nearest rival, Red Calibre (box three).
The remaining heat of the night was the only one won by a local greyhound, with Mainline Osti (box one) defeating a quality field to qualify for trainer Ashley Dwyer.
The 26-kilogram pocket rocket was well away and was able to stalk the leader Silver Grace (box four) for the majority of the race before slipping into top gear in the home straight, drawing clear to score by three-and-three-quarter-lengths over Princess Pout (box three) in 30.16.
Mainline Osti has been awarded no favours in the final, drawing box six, but is still certain to have plenty of supporters trackside next Saturday night at Wentworth Park.
Group 1 National Futurity – box draw and market
1 – Striker Light $2.50
2 – Up Hill Jill $2.10 with Bet365
3 – Red Calibre $26
4 – Andrea Doria $7.50
5 – Jody Lee Kade $51
6 – Mainline Osti $10
7 – Daithy Allen $13
8 – Princess Pout $17
1st Res – Flying Mikayla $17
2nd Res – Carla Zeus $51