STAR local Count Baroque caused a massive upset in the opening heat of the Group 1 Hobart Thousand (461m) on Thursday night, defeating champion greyhound Zambora Brockie.
Trained in Victoria, Zambora Brockie went into the race as the $1.20 favourite from box five, but was poor to begin and found a fair bit of trouble. Meanwhile, Count Baroque was only away fairly, but got plenty of room to move down the back straight, charging up to take the lead around the turn and sprinting clear.
Once in front, the Ted Medhurst-trained greyhound was never in danger, sprinting clear to score by five-and-one-quarter-lengths in a speedy 25.93.
A son of Cosmic Chief and Latina, Count Baroque has now won 12 of his 36 starts with an additional 18 minor placings.
Medhurst managed to bookend the heats on Thursday night, with Chief Jetpilot taking out the final qualifier. Stepping from box five, the brindle dog was caught in traffic in the early stages but was able to barge his way along the fence and roll to the lead around the turn.
A litter brother to Count Baroque, Chief Jetpilot was able to hold off a late challenge from Hurunui Hitman (box seven) to record a one-and-a-half-length victory in 25.98.
Heat two saw another local salute, with El Grand Amigo (box two) upstaging Victorian star Blazin’ Bomber (box six). Pinging the lids, El Grand Amigo was never behind another runner, crossing the line three lengths clear in 26.00.
Trained by Patrick Ryan, El Grand Amigo was one of the most inexperienced greyhounds contesting the series, with Thursday’s success taking his record to six wins from eight starts.
Heat three was the first to go to an interstate greyhound, with powerhouse sprinter American Monster (box two) producing an enormous run to defeat early leader Katey Roman in the run to the line.
The blue greyhound clocked a neat 26.00 at his debut over the track and trip and is sure to make an impact in the final if he gets a nice draw.
Outside Pass (box eight) was the odds-on favourite in the fourth qualifier, but the black bitch was caught wide for the entire trip which cost her valuable ground.
Taking advantage of the favourite’s misfortune was Fifteen Two (box five), which railed along the fence around the home turn and kicked on strongly to score by one length over Outside Pass in a moderate 26.32.
Rated a $10 shot going into the heat, Fifteen Two has now won six of his past eight starts for Dale Hammersley.
Unlawful Entry continued his bid to win back-to-back Hobart Thousands in heat five, recording a dominant victory from box one. The Brett Bravo trained dog was only fairly away, but was quick to find his gears, defeating NSW visitor Maja Mahi Mahi (box six) by three-and-three-quarter lengths in 26.01.
The win was Unlawful Entry’s first success since June, with the son of Knocka Norris and She Ain’t Late facing an interrupted few months due to injury.
If he is successful in next week’s $75,000 final, he will become just the second greyhound to win consecutive editions of the race, the only other dog to achieve the feat being Ophir Doll in 1961 and 1962.
Heat six went to yet another Tassie chaser, with Celtic Kid (box two) coming from behind to defeat Wynburn Archer (box seven) by two-and-a-half lengths in 26.14.
Prepared by Shirley Sutcliffe, the 36.5-kilogram greyhound is now the winner of eight races from 47 starts.
The remaining heat of the night went to Victorian chaser Zipping Bruiser, giving young trainer Matt Lanigan his first group 1 finalist after just a few months of training. Starting from box two, the black dog got a few bumps throughout the run but showed his class in the home straight, crossing the line three-quarters-of-a-length ahead of Long View Belle (box five) in 26.30.
The final of the Group 1 Hobart Thousand will be run next Thursday night and is worth $75,000.