LOCAL greyhounds stole the show in the heats of the Group 2 WA Oaks (520m) on Saturday night at Cannington, claiming each of the four heats and defeating some classy interstate competitors in the process.
Victorian chaser Empire Entourage was sent to the boxes as the $2.90 favourite in the first heat of the night for trainer Jess Hopkins, but missed the kick from the inside box which cost her valuable lengths as she found herself in the back half of the field initially. Meanwhile Terry Erenshaw’s Milly Keeping was been left alone out in front following a swift beginning from box five and managed to kick clear down the back after her opponents found bother around the first turn.
Swinging for home and Empire Entourage began storming home after getting the rails run through the catching pen, but the winner had a bit too much on her, with Milly Keeping crossing the line a neck in front in a quick 30.34.
A daughter of Swift Fancy and Naomi Keeping, Milly Keeping took her career statistics to two wins and two minor placings from five starts with the victory.
The second heat went the way of a roughie, with Olivia Benson proving too strong for her opponents in 30.87. Stepping fairly from box eight, the Darren Rowe-trained chaser was beaten for speed by Tyler’s Teddy (box one) and Been Pippin’ (box three) in the early stages, with the black bitch working her way into third spot around the first turn.
Despite having what appeared to be a race winning break coming off the back, Tyler’s Teddy got the wobbles turning for home with Been Pippin’ and Olivia Benson beginning their charge from behind, with the latter railing through along the fence to snare the lead in the run to the line, recording a narrow victory by a head.
Pepper Fire was the favourite in the third qualifier for Chris Halse, with the daughter of Spiral Nikita and West On Bluebird beginning well from box two before being pressured by the speedy Wagtail Kate (box three) early on. Around the first turn and Pepper Fire wanted to get off the track slightly, checking off Wagtail Kate’s heels before switching to the outside and starting another run down the back straight.
Hitting the lead half way down the back, Pepper Fire was challenged again at the 600m boxes by kennel mate and litter sister My Nakita (box one), with the red rugged runner doing the better in the run to the finish, crossing the line three quarters of a length in front in 30.58.
Series favourite Fabregal stepped out in the fourth and final qualifier off box seven however she got a bump just after box rise which cost her some momentum in the charge towards the first turn. Swooping down the outside to claim the lead was Marydoll which kicked clear down the back, with Fabregal managing to recover and circle the field around the bend, slipping into second spot behind the tearaway leader.
The winner of the Group 2 Queensland Futurity, Fabregal quickly began cutting back the margin, with the daughter of Fabregas and Allinga Aye Jay flying home but unable to reach the leader in time, with Marydoll defeating the star South Australian to score by one and three quarter lengths in 30.33.
The Group 2 WA Oaks final is set to be run next Saturday night at Cannington.
Group 2 WA Oaks – box draw
Box 1 – MILLY KEEPING
Box 2 – PEPPER FIRE
Box 3 – FABREGAL (SA)
Box 4 – BEEN PIPPIN’
Box 5 – MARYDOLL
Box 6 – OLIVIA BENSON
Box 7 – EMPIRE ENTOURAGE (VIC)
Box 8 – MY NAKITA
1st Res – TIMES SQUARE
2nd Res – PRANCER DANCER