Like all great triumphs through the ages, the stage has been set, the players are known and greyhound racing fans have another six sleepless nights before one of the most anticipated clashes in recent history will take place at the Wentworth Park thunderdome.
Miss Elly Mint vs El Galo. New South Wales vs Victoria. The glamour girl of New South Wales greyhound racing and perpetual record breaker versus the hottest property on the track right now, the seven time group winning bad boy of Australian greyhound racing.
And the prize? The most coveted race in Australian group greyhound racing, the $150,000 to the winner Group 1 2009 Golden Easter Egg.
The stage was set last night in four heats of high intensity greyhound action at Wentworth Park, in the Golden Easter Egg Semi Finals.
Did I Entertain completed the transition from novice greyhound to group racing greyhound in the first of the heats. The Group 3 2008 Dapto Leagues Club Maiden just over 6 months ago, didn’t sherk the early tightening and pushed through along the rail to gain the through the corner and posted a very handy 13.89 second section. From there the son of Bombastic Shirz ~ Chili Berger was never going to weaken and ran an evan 16 second run home, to win by 3.25 lengths in a career best 29.89.
Radio Star, with the advantage of box 1 was abel to work along the paint to secure the other final berth, running second with unlucky Brislane, who had been second last at one stage; kept finding to the line to finish third another 3.25 lengths back.
The second Golden Easter Egg Semi Final was all one way traffic at box rise and New South Wales’ glamour greyhound Miss Elly Mint jumped well enough from box eight to be able to accelerate through and lead comfortably to the first section in 5.35. From there she was untroubled to run 13.77 to the second mark; and with the added benefit of conditioning gained from last week’s run, the pride of the Hunter Valley finished off the race with a handy 16.12 run home for a 29.89 win.
While “Little Miss Record” was high flying up front Cool Flight had secured second place by using the rails to advantage at box rise, but could only take a few lengths of Miss Elly Mint; getting closest on the line to be beaten 1.25 and secure the fourth available Golde Easter Egg Final berth. Mantra Lad who had remarkably started second favourite, given his slow starts and poor box draw; worked home as expected to finish third 2 legths further astern, just catching Tricode Flo Jo in the shadows of the post.
Size Can Matter was all the talk for Semi Final 3, but was always going to struggle despite having the advantage of the red box due to his lack of early pace. Bathurst Gold Cup winner Dana Beatrice had been able to lead the week prior in her heat, and being boxed out in the eight she was going to have to begin exceptionally well to do the same again.
Dana Beatrice began well enough and worked over at the start, but she was foiled by recent Perth Cup finalist Joanne Monelli, who had pinged the lids from box 3 and held the inside running going to the first section in 5.52. Heading past the 720m boxes in 13.95, the daughter of imported frozen semen sire Premier Fantasy ~ Foolish Girl, was not slowing down and comfortably held Dana Beatrice. From there Joanne Monelli really set tongues wagging by running home in an incredible 15.81 to win by 4.5 lengths from Dana Beatrice in 29.76, the best of the four Golden Easter Egg Semi winning times.
Dana Beatrice had comfortably held down second for the entire journey, and Birthday Boy put in another sensational run to overcome his slow starts from box 2 and work through the field and past greyhounds to finish third, failing by just a length to catch Dana Beatrice. Birthday Boy’s thrid was just good enough to see him named second reserve for this weeks big final.
The fourth of the semi’s was all but over once the box draw was performed and El Galo had lucked in to the rails box. All he had to do was jump with them, and jump he did. Showing enough of his early pace, El Galo was able to lead with ease running 5.38 and then went through the gears, running 13.73 to the second section and finding the line in 29.88. Perhaps there were some signs of just a little weakness with El Galo running home in 16.15, a half length slower than Miss Elly Mint.
Behind the free striding El Galo, True Kihael who had the kennel connections anticipating a Group 1 final for their youngster, as the son of Trewly Special ~ Tell Tall Tails was working away back in second and looked safe in that position. But Horsham Cup finalist Spiral Glory spoiled the party whipping past True Kihael in the shadows of the post to secure the final berth, 2.75 lengths behind El Galo and just .75 length ahead of True Kihael. True Kihael’s effort was good enough to secure him first reserve to the final.
The plot had developed and with all four heat winners breaking the magical 30 second barrier and the slowest of the seconds running 30.12, the prospects became high that next Saturday night’s running final could well be the best Golden Easter Egg Final in history. Certainly on paper it looks as good as any race in the past decade.
All that was left was one last plot twist, and the box draw played its role to perfection. By giving Miss Elly Mint box 1 in the Group 1 feature, the “marbles” had lifted the spirits of every able bodied New South Welshman and challenged the Victorian Champion El Galo, who is going to have to work hard on her outside for the entire journey.
The race of the decade has been set. Suitably they’ll race for $150,000 first prizemoney, but on some many more levels, there is so much more on the line.
New South Wales vs Victoria, Greyhound Racing’s “Glamour Girl” vs the “Bad Boy”, Speed vs Speed, Courage vs Class, The People’s Champion vs The Champ……..Miss Elly Mint vs El Galo.
The tantalising battle will capture the imagination and spirit of the entire greyhound community. But more than that, it will appeal to anyone who appreciates the beauty and anticipation of sporting titans matched against each other at their peak. The Wentworth Park venue will transform in to “The Thunderdome” with a crowd that will have old timers talking of match races and Harold Park and Zoom Top and Chief Havoc.
And amongst these two warriors, six other greyhounds, all of them undeniably qualified to be there; will venture in to the cauldron of excitement and fear at “The Thunderdome” with just one mission among them…..to spoil the party and claim their own moment in history in “The Race Of The Decade”.
Just six more sleeps……
2009 Group 1 Golden Easter Egg Final – The Race Of The Decade
- Box 1 – Miss Elly Mint
- Box 2 – Dana Beatrice
- Box 3 – Joanne Monelli
- Box 4 – El Galo
- Box 5 – Radio Star
- Box 6 – Spiral Glory
- Box 7 – Did I Entertain
- Box 8 – Cool Flight
- 1st Reserve – True Kihael
- 2nd Reserve – Birthday Boy