GOLDEN Easter Egg finalist Lucky Chap stamped himself as the greyhound to beat in next week’s Group 2 Warrnambool Cup (450m) with a stunning 24.93 heat victory on Wednesday night.
The black and white dog, trained by leading conditioner Anthony Azzopardi, speared the lids from box six, rolling straight to the front of the pack in the early stages.
Once on the bunny it was a case of times and margins, with the son of Brett Lee and former top chaser Cawbourne Whip stretching out to score by more than five lengths on the line.
Lucky Chap has now won 11 of his 18 starts, with Wednesday’s performance his first start since finishing fourth in the Golden Easter Egg behind Striker Light earlier this month.
Striker Light also made an appearance in the Warrnambool Cup series, contesting heat six from box eight. Sent to the traps as the $1.60 favourite, the Brett Bravo-trained bitch did not disappoint.
Although only beginning fairly, Striker Light used the outside draw to perfection, mustering pace along the outside to take the lead in the charge around the first turn.
In the home straight Striker Light continued to extend her lead, racing to the line to record a 3.66 length victory in a fast 25.14.
Striker Light goes into the final having won her past four appearances, with a win in the feature set to take her career earnings above the $430,000 mark.
The only other heat to break the elusive 25 second barrier was Zinzan Brooke in the fifth qualifier. The Brooke Ennis-trained greyhound was midfield away from the boxes, but got room to move in the early stages and quickly railed through to assume the lead off box one.
Into the straight, the 35-kilogram powerhouse was too strong for Sandown Park track record holder Unlawful Entry, crossing the winning post just under a length clear in a fast 24.97.
Team Azzopardi will be represented by two greyhounds in the $47,000 to the winner feature, with Anthony’s partner Kylee Osborne taking out the opening heat of the night with Raw Ability off the cherry.
The boom pup has taken a while to find his feet at group level, but showed what he is made of on Wednesday evening when leading all the way to score in 25.20.
NSW contender Barking Bad (box three) stormed home to grab second, but the winner was off and gone.
The second heat of the night saw Zipping Arnold (box seven) and Reefton Treasure (box three) vying for favouritism, but both were only averagely away from the traps and found interference.
In the charge to the first turn, it was a mad scramble for the lead, with Blackpool Chuck (box eight) finding the top spot and kicking clear to triumph by 2.2 lengths in a handy 25.40.
Reefton Treasure ran on well to finish second, with Zipping Arnold crossing the line in fifth spot.
Leading trainer Rob Britton qualified two through to the Warrnambool Cup final, with Flyrite his first winner when leading all the way from box three in heat three.
The black dog defeated Riveting (box seven) and Master Riot (box five) when clocking a slick 25.33 – bringing up his ninth career victory at start 25.
Multiple group winner Pantera Nera (box eight) was the one to beat in the fourth qualifier and when the lids flew open the Gavin Burke trained dog bounded straight to the lead.
Around the turn, Pantera Nera was well clear, with the only danger looking to be Matt Machine (box two) which railed through from last into second as trouble struck throughout the middle stages of the race.
Half way down the straight it was a race in two, with Matt Machine storming down the centre of the track to assume the lead and kick clear to win in 25.39.
The remaining heat went to another Rob Britton-trained greyhound, with Leo’s Gift causing an upset at close to double figure odds. The favourite for the race was Big Flood (box seven), but the fancied pick missed the kick and never got in contention.
In the meantime, Leo’s Gift flew the lids from box two and despite running off around the turn, was able to kick back strongly in the home straight to defeat Gravel Rash Riot (box one) in 25.35.
The final of the Group 2 Warrnambool Cup will be run next Wednesday night and is worth $47,000.
Group 2 Warrnambool Cup – box draw
1 – Flyrite
2 – Striker Light
3 – Zinzan Brook
4 – Lucky Chap
5 – Leo’s Gift
6 – Raw Ability
7 – Blackpool Chuck
8 – Matt Machine
9 – Unlawful Entry
10 – Landmark