TOPPER Toretto will be the one to beat in next week’s Group 2 Dapto Puppy Classic (520m) after a sizzling performance in his semi-final of the $75,000 to the winner series on Thursday night.
Beginning well from box four, the 30.2-kilogram speedster rolled straight to the early lead, railing underneath Go Good Riddance in the run around the first turn.
Once out in front the son of Collision and Cadence started opening up a gap on his rivals, crossing the line eight-and-one-quarter lengths clear of Flying Mikayla (box eight) in a blistering 29.49.
Trained in Victoria by Anthony Azzopardi, Topper Toretto is unbeaten thus far throughout the series, having won his heat the week prior in 29.64.
Overall the black dog has won eight of his 24 starts with a further eight minor placings, with fast wins also recorded at Richmond (22.72), Ballarat (25.49) and Bendigo (28.33).
The second semi of the night went to Philip Goodsell, with his promising youngster Mornington Star saluting in 30.37.
The 36-kilogram heavyweight was only fairly away from box three and got squeezed out at the start, relegated back to fifth in the run to the line on the first occasion.
Rounding the first turn, Mornington Star railed underneath his opponents to slip into second behind Razzle (box seven) which led by around two lengths down the back straight.
The son of Fabregas and Mornington Belle refused to switch to the outside, barging under the leader coming off the back and sprinting clear to record a two-and-three-quarter length win at the winning post.
Topper Swaye (box two) ran on well to grab second and will also progress through to the final.
Heading into semi-final three, Brett Bravo’s Benteke was all the rage from box four. The former NSW chaser was returning to the track, where he holds a 29.75 personal best, for the first time since April, however when the lids flew open the black dog was poorly into stride.
Getting a nice run down the outside of the pack was Too Good Thommo (box eight) which was able to assume the lead running through the catching pen, with Benteke slipping into third spot after finding trouble.
Swinging for home and the leader started to struggle, with Benteke flying home down the outside, however he left his run too late with Too Good Thommo clinging on by a length in 30.09.
Trained by Mark Bell, Too Good Thommo has now won three races from nine starts with a further five minor placings.
Favourite punters were getting desperate by the time the fourth and final semi-final rolled around, but unfortunately their bad luck continued.
Instead, striding to the lead down the back straight was Notorious Chief (box four) which was able to hold off a late challenge from Soft Gambler (box six) to score in 30.31.
Both greyhounds will progress through to the decider, with Notorious Chief, a son of Buck Fever and Spring Aim, now the winner of five of his 10 starts.
Group 2 Dapto Puppy Classic – box draw
2 Too Good Thommo
3 Mornington Star
4 Topper Teretto
5 Topper Swaye
6 Notorious Thief
7 Soft Gambler
8 Flying Mikayla
1st Res Go Good Riddance
2nd Res Master Gambler