Brilliant youngster Kalden Athena set tongues wagging with a stunning win in 29.37 in her semi final of the $72,500 Group 1 Macro Meats Laurels at Sandown Park last Thursday night.
In what promises to be one of the most keenly contested Group race finals in recent memory, just three lengths separated the four semi final winners, setting up an intriguing final next Thursday night.
A daughter of Big Daddy Cool, Kalden Athena ($2F) jumped straight to the lead in her semi final and was never challenged, extending her lead at every turn to finish 9.25 lengths clear of Budgie Lass.
Trained by Troy Iwanyk, who recently moved to Devon Meadows from Western Australia, Kalden Athena has already tasted Group race success having won the Group 3 South Australian Oaks in September.
Tonight’s win improved her record to nine wins from 16 starts and is the likely favourite in next Thursday night’s $50,000 to the winner final.
After a disappointing run in last Sunday’s heat, recent Group 1 Vic Peters winner Isadoll ($3.60) showed her brilliant best when defeating Black Saharrah ($2.50F) in a slick 29.42. Black Saharrah was only fairly away as Isadoll found the lead through the first turn and proved took good in the run to the line, winning by 3.5 lengths.
Tonneli Bale ($3.30) gave Graeme Bate a chance at a fourth Laurels Classic since 1997 after winning the night’s opening heat in 29.53. Tonneli Bale was two lengths to the better of the strong finishing New Year’s Punch ($8.80), who gave former AFL footballers Brad Johnson and Rohan Smith their first Group race finalist with the first greyhound they’ve owned.
Group 2 Great Chase winner Up And Away gave Graeme Bate a two pronged attack in next Thursday night’s $50,000 to the winner final, winning her semi final in 29.55.
Despite running the slowest time of the four semi finalists, Up And Away ($2.90F) clocked the fastest first split of the four semi finals while on her way to her seventh consecutive race win. However she had to work over time to defeat under rated speedster Coolan Miss ($3.60), who chased valiantly to finish 1.25 lengths adrift.
Scope in Manifold Heights, who was assigned Up And Away during the Great Chase heats, receive the equivalent of 10% of the greyhound’s prizemoney over the next 12 months and will add another $5000 to the more than $10,000 already earned if she salutes in the final.
The night was also a memorable night for Cranbourne breeder Jim Redenbach, who qualified three greyhounds for the final from the one Meticulous – Giddigan litter, with Coolan Miss and Budgie Lass trained by Jim himself and Black Saharrah trained by Greg Tatti.
The final of the 2010 Group 1 Macro Meats Laurels Classic will be run at Sandown Park next Thursday night.