Thetimehas come for the 2014 Group One Maturity Champion to be decided. The eventual winner of this age-restricted feature event will join an illustrious list of names on the honour roll. Greyhounds such as Temlee, New Tears, Brett Lee and Hallucinate have won the race. In recent times, it has been taken out by El Grand Senor, Shereen Bale, Barcia Bale and Marcus Joe.
This year’s final is not an easy one by any stretch. Hooksy will start the favourite but there are a number of other chances in the race. Trainer Anthony Azzopardi (who will rug up Shoulders) best summed the race up when he told ARG “it’s not your average Joe race where it’s easy to pick the leader and who will win”.
Here is a look at each of the finalists, including form and trainer’s comments;
Comments: Anthony Azzopardi (Trainer) – “It’s a hard race. It’s not your average Joe race where it’s easy to pick the leader and who will win. He’s got a good chance as the dog in box one is slow early so he should find the fence and get a good run into the first turn. He isn’t without a chance. The dog is feeling well. Hooksy will be hard to beat if he begins.”
Comments: ARG opinion is – Consistent place-getter at The Meadows that has only won one from seven at the track but has been placed on five other occasions. He has early speed so could be amongst the leading pack.
Comments: Tammy Collins (Kennel Representative) – “She has always had the potential and always trialled well, it has just taken her a while to show that in a race. She is drawn okay as she likes to use the middle of the track. Hopefully she will jump again.”
Comments: Jeff Britton (Trainer) –“She has done everything right her last two races. She is the sort of dog that once she gets on a roll, she goes well and she is on a bit of a roll at the moment. She is drawn a little further out this week and will need some interference on the inside to cross. She did well last week and she has got to be a chance. If she does happen to win, she deserves it as the field she beat in the semi-final was a quality field. Hooksy will be hard to hold out if he gets a crack at them. If he was sitting in box two, he would be hard to beat.”
Comments: Slow early but has a strong finish. Not likely to be considered a winning chance if she gets a start.
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The in-form greyhound is Mepunga Hayley (8). Her trainer Jeff Britton has been enjoying a great run of late with his greyhounds (although he did comment to ARG that he has a few handy ones sitting injured in the kennels) and he rates Mepunga Hayley a good chance in the race. If she shows what she has the last two weeks then she is right up there.
Anthony Azzopardi has based some of his kennel down in Victoria and as Azzopardi told ARG, the move has paid off as he now has a finalist in the Maturity. Azzopardi has experienced some cold and wet weather while down in Victoria, with snow falling at times and as he told ARG he can now relate to the TV show “Life Below Zero”. Azzopardi’s finalist is Shoulders (2) and he has taken to The Meadows like the proverbial duck to water. If he gets the room his trainer predicts he will get, he will take some holding out.
Race favourite Hooksy (7) has drawn wide and his trainer has made no secret of the fact that he doesn’t particularly like the draw. Other trainers in the race have also noted that if Hooksy had been boxed on the inside he would have been hard to beat. However, trainers remain wary of Hooksy and know that if he gets a crack at them he will be difficult to contain.
Humphrey Bale (5) is well versed around the track but he will have to overcome the squeeze draw. A fellow ‘Bale’ dog, Lamia Bale (4), is drawn on Humphrey’s immediate inside. Those involved with Lamia Bale have indicated that she trials well and may just be starting to transfer that to her race performances. She is the fastest semi-final winner and can’t be discounted. Bale dogs have recent good history in this race, winning two of the last four Maturity finals.
Sisco Rage (1) has relished the drop back to the 525 metre trip at The Meadows. He is drawn where he needs to be but will need some luck. He will be flying at the finish.
Take Charge (3) and Grand Legacy (6) will both need some luck to feature. Grand Legacy performed at his best last week but hasn’t been done any favours by the draw.
The race jumps at 9:40pm and is race eight on the card. Be sure to tune in and see who takes home the $100,000 prize.