And the event, New South Wales’ richest staying race, could take on extra significance for Graham Jose’s marvel Mantra Lad who is closing in on Rapid Journey’s all-time stakes record.
The $50,000-to-the-winner final has had trainers converging on Sydney from all over the country in search of the spoils in Australian greyhound racing’s first Group One event of the year.
The significance they place on the race was no more evident than in the qualifying performances. The interstate raiders dominated the three heats with Victorian Mantra Lad, who has drawn box one for the final, showing no ill effects in his first run at Wentworth Park in over nine months with a sizzling 42.09s heat win (only 0.16s outside Chinatown Lad’s track record).
Another smart heat winner, former National Sprint champion Queenslander Dashing Corsair, will line up on Manta Lad’s outside in box two for the final.
Flying the local flag will be Michael Cope’s star Reign Over Me out of top producer Bond as well as outsider Laura’s Legacy and the emerging Lochinvar Vogue.
Their task will be difficult, but not insurmountable as they look to continue the recent NSW stranglehold on the event through the likes of reigning Greyhound Of The Year Miagi (2008) and the well-credentialed Lilley Criminal (2009).
One feelgood story, however unlikely it may seem, would be if Somersby-based Laura’s Legacy could spring a major surprise in the final. She is named after handler Cathleen Dance’s daughter who passed away more than two years ago.
A race is already named after Laura at Gosford each year and Cathleen hopes to turn that into a major event should the Hotham Body Repairs Association Cup winner’s purse land at the Somersby kennel.
“That bitch was named after my daughter that passed away,” Cathleen said of Laura, who used to work in the kennels at Gosford. “If we happen to win it – as of tomorrow she’ll be gone two-and-a-half years – we’ll probably put on a major race at Gosford in her name.”
But any plans may be a bit premature with Dance almost certain the winner will be from south of the border, namely Mantra Lad.
“He’s got the one box, he should win the race,” Dance said of Mantra Lad. “It would be nice if I run a place, but like I said I don’t think we will.
“She’s (Laura’s Legacy) there with a chance, but if there’s no trouble I reckon he’ll (Mantra Lad) probably break the record.
“I thought after the heats NSW didn’t even get a winner so we’ll have to try and string one into the places.”
Laura’s Legacy was bred and reared by the Dances and is a former Richmond 717m track record holder.
Hotham Body Repairs Association Cup Final Box Draw
- 1. Mantra Lad (Graham Jose – Victoria)
- 2. Dashing Corsair (Dwyer Lennon – Queensland)
- 3. Jarvis Bale (Graeme Bate – Victoria)
- 4. Countess Of Cork (Peter Sayer – Western Australia)
- 5. Lochinvar Vogue (Robert Smith – NSW)
- 6. Santino Marella (Stephen Rolph – Queensland)
- 7. Laura’s Legacy (William Dance – NSW)
- 8. Reign Over Me (Michael Cope – NSW)
- 9. Shadow Boxer (Darren McDonald – Victoria)
- 10. Drill ‘Em (David Knocker – Victoria)