THE 2016 Group 3 Howard Ashton (515m) is shaping up to be one of the most exciting finals in recent memory after two action packed semi-finals were run and won at Angle Park on Thursday night.
Hukanui, which set the track alight with a blistering 29.43 heat win, was sent to the boxes as the favourite in the first semi, but the Tony Rasmussen-trained greyhound found trouble around the first turn and was shuffled back to fourth.
Taking the early lead was Team Roper off box seven which carved across from the wide draw and managed to kick clear of Paddy Mcbain and McLaren Missile down the back.
Swinging for home and it was still the black rugged runner out in front, but McLaren Missile, trained by Tania Foster, was closing quickly, storming down the centre of the track to hit the line in unison with the lamplighter.
The judge called for a photo but was unable to split the pair which recorded a fast 29.74. Paddy Mcbain stuck on well for third, with Hukanui finishing fourth.
The second semi-final saw three greyhounds hovering around the $3 mark, Wilba Beast (box two), Allinga Val (box three) and Harbormaster (box six).
When the lids flew open Wilba Beast exploded from the favourable draw and was able to push up and take control of the race in the charge to the line on the first occasion.
Despite bumping with Harbormaster around the first bend the son of El Galo and Mighty Chaos was able to extend his lead into the back, before holding off a late challenge from his box six rival in the home straight to score by three quarters of a length in 29.79.
Don’t Kid Me filled the trifecta for trainer Ray Fewings, with Billy McLaren giving Tania Foster two runners through to the final when finishing fourth from box eight.
The Group 3 Howard Ashton final is set to be run at Angle Park next Thursday night.
Group 3 Howard Ashton final – box draw
Box 1 – McLaren Missile
Box 2 – Paddy Mcbain
Box 3 – Wilba Beast
Box 4 – Don’t Kid Me
Box 5 – Garry Mcbain
Box 6 – Team Roper
Box 7 – Billy McLaren
Box 8 – Harbormaster
1st Res – Relton
2nd Res – Dakota Barbie