VICTORIAN speedster Up Hill Jill is the favourite to win this year’s Group 1 National Futurity ahead of four cracking heats at Wentworth Park this Saturday night.
The David Geall-trained bitch is the $4.50 top elect with Bet365 to claim the $75,000-to-the-winner-event on February 4 and will need to finish in the first two in her qualifier in order to make the final.
A winner of the Group 2 Laurels at Sandown Park last year, Up Hill Jill comes into the race in terrific form, having won five of her past six starts.
She also prepared for the Futurity series with a slick trial around Wentworth Park last Saturday night, with Geall happy with his bonny bitch heading into the heats.
“She had a look at Wentworth Park on Saturday night before the first race and she clocked 30.14,” Geall told Australian Racing Greyhound.
“It was a good time – she never trials particularly well – she seems to save her best for race day.
“A few of the NSW trainers I spoke to said it was a nice run because the track has been slow.
“All things considered I was very happy because I wasn’t expecting much at all.”
The daughter of Premier Fantasy and Where’s Demonica has pulled up well following her hit-out and looks poised to make an impact in her heat after coming up with box two.
However, it won’t be an easy assignment, with Up Hill Jill facing a tricky field including Runway Idole (box five), Jody Lee Kade (box seven) and Ebby Chance (box eight).
Despite facing a quality line-up, Geall says his charge should race well if she can show her customary early dash.
“We wanted box one or two so she is drawn perfectly and she should have the pace to kick up on the fence in the early stages.
“I am slightly concerned about the starting boxes – they don’t have any cleats in there for them to push off so she will have to get used to that.
“She seemed to stumble early in her trial, but now that she has had a look hopefully she can adapt and begin a bit better.”
The black rocket has shown in her most recent starts at Warrnambool that she can handle the pressures of top class racing.
With 10 wins from 18 starts and $92,470 in prize money earnings, Geall believes Up Hill Jill can continue to improve throughout the two-week series as she continues to mature as a race bitch.
“When she won the Summer Cup at Warrnambool [two starts ago] she defeated a very good field against the likes of Kilty Express,” Geall said.
“She got a bit of a knock early, she got squeezed up and then she got galloped on slightly approaching the home corner.
“Despite all that she went 25.12 so it was an enormous effort and it gave us the impression that she may have gone up another notch since winning the Laurels.
“Every pup that the mother has produced seems to peak at around two and a half, so I think she may even have another two or three lengths of improvement in her yet.”
The 2017 National Futurity series looks to be a cracker, with other notable contenders including Striker Light, Little Nangar, Mainline Osti and Pretty Ali.
The Futurity, open to bitches only, complements the National Derby series which also gets underway this weekend. You can read about one of the leading chances here.
The first heat of the National Futurity is race two on the card this Saturday night.
2017 National Futurity – final winner
Up Hill Jill $4.50 with Bet365
Striker Light $5.50
Ebby Chance $6
Little Nangar $8
Mainline Osti $11
Fusion Cronulla $11
Pretty Ali $11
Sarah Swift $13
Flying Mikayla $16
Celica Bale $16
Kumbia Lass $16
Andrea Doria $16
Spring Bloom $16
Swift Ella $21
Runway Idole $21
Daithy Allen $26
Mac Molly $26
Two Jay $34
American Rose $51
Princess Pout $51
Red Calibre $67
Miss Abbeyvale $81
Silver Grace $101
No Sparkle Leica $126
Rumbling Daisy $151
Queen Of Ziems $151
Jody Lee Kade $151
Carla Zeus $151
Kyra Miss $151
Dee Dee Kay $201
White Magic Opal $301
Dig Deep Chez $301
Topper Swaye $501