THE Golden Easter Egg series moves into the semi-final stage at Wentworth Park on Saturday night, with two greyhounds in particular holding some interest from a minor historical perspective.
The first is Black Bear Lee. The Ruth Matic-trained black dog scored his 11th win at the Glebe circuit when taking out his heat in a solid 29.98. On the corresponding night a year ago, Black Bear Lee won his semi-final of the Magic Maiden, one of the brace of group races which are held during the Golden Easter Egg carnival. He went on to win the Magic Maiden final on the same night Fernando Bale annexed the Golden Easter Egg, and now Black Bear Lee is back (in the fourth semi-final), making his play for the GBOTA’s flagship event.
The second is Rare Pearl. Trained by Steven White, the black dog has drawn box seven in the first semi-final of the Egg after running third behind Outside Pass in his heat. On this same night a year ago, Rare Pearl won a heat of the Ultra Sense Sprint Series before running a two and a half lengths second behind Flash Earner in the final.
As with Black Bear Lee, Rare Pearl is now hoping to make it into the premier Group 1 final, one year on.
What is also of note is that there are only two trainers, Andrea Dailly and Jason Thompson, with experience at winning the Egg who have qualified runners into the semi-finals, thereby giving them a chance at taking the final again.
In last year’s Golden Easter Egg semi-finals, the Andrea Dailly team qualified two of the only three greyhounds to have earned more than one million dollars in prize money during their careers for the final: Fernando Bale and Dyna Double One. Team Dailly also qualified Dyna Nico for the decider, thereby giving them three finalists.
Of course, the great Fernando Bale raced away to win the final by just over four lengths, while Dyna Nico took third place and Dyna Double One ran fifth.
This year, the Andrea Dailly juggernaut consists of six semi-finalists, with none in the first semi-final, two in the second (Elfen Bale and Marley Bale), three in the third run-off (Amaro Bale, Diego Bale and Dawkins Bale) and Snakebite Bale their sole contender in the final semi-final.
The Dailly kennel have won two of the last three Easter Eggs, and Victorian-trained greyhounds have snared five of the last six, with the Queenslander Don’t Knock Him, albeit trained by the Victorian-based mentor Jason Thompson, the one to ostensibly break that sequence.
Thompson has qualified Moreira for the second run-off and Invictus Rapid for the fourth semi-final as he searches for a second success in the Egg.
It’s notable that this year, obviously depending on the results in the semi-finals, we could very well see a new trainer on the presentation dias taking possession of the $250,000 winner’s cheque and the Golden Easter Egg trophy.