Central west chasers were to the fore in the heats of the Fengore Plant Hire Bathurst Gold Cup at Kennerson Park on Wednesday March 11.
Dana Beatrice was next best with a 30.21 clip for fellow Cowra mentor Rod McDonald accounting for Mudgee chaser Kayla Enlim.
The Tom Astbury owned and Simon Ma prepared Tadmore Gunshot downed a hot field in the remaining heat posting a smart 30.28 two and a quarter lengths ahead of the fast finishing Flying Mitch.
Only a head away in third was Arthur Ritis who turned in an eye-catching run from near the tail of the field.
As it so often can the box draw has really opened the final up with possibly the best served being Tadmore Gunshot who will exit the two alley, the same box he secured his heat from. Dana Beatrice has drawn awkwardly in the four and will have to contend with her litter-mate Dana Tiger who is right alongside her in five.
From the eight Rip Van Rip faces a mighty task to get across his rivals and he'll need luck at the first turn. Flying Mitch a noted wide runner has come up with the rails which shouldn't worry him too much as he probably doesn't have the pace to match it with this crack line up in the early stanza.
Trying to find the winner is no easy task but Tadmore Gunshot looks as though he can lead so I'll give him the nod with Flying Mitch the danger as he'll be swooping around the field and is likely to miss any trouble that may unfold.
I'll throw Dana Beatrice in for third as she is too good to dismiss. Given her brilliant record of 14 wins from just 23 starts Dana Beatrice deserves a feature race win which has so far deserted her. If she was to salute it would be a great consolation after being gunned down in the last stride when runner-up in the Soldiers Saddle final in December.
The final worth $12,500 to the winner will be run on Wednesday March 18 at 5.58pm and highlights a fabulous afternoon of greyhound racing featuring seven features events with a record $37,500 in prizemoney up for grabs.
Track Records Under Seige
Sensational Buthurst Staying Field
A top field will contest the Trevor Black Memorial the major staying feature on the Bathurst calendar and it seems a mere formality that Lyn's Daisy's current 700m record of 41.87 will go by the wayside.
Wentworth Park Gold Cup winner Gold Slammer heads the list along with the track record holder Lyn's Daisy and last year's winner Fort Shakin' who is unbeaten in three tries over the trip, former local star Ashes Platinum and promising youngster Lightening Lizzy. All five are proven at city level and have recorded slick times at the state's number one venue at Wentworth Park.
Since winning the Cup Gold Slammer clocked a sizzling 42.38 at headquarters downing Lightening Lizzy by 10 lengths on March 2. Then six days later demoralized his opposition at Bulli in a sensational 38.10 scoring by an incredible 15 lengths. Despite having her colours lowered by Gold Slammer at their latest clash Lightening Lizzy has won her only two starts at Wentworth Park since in 42.87 and 42.23.
The versatile Ashes Platinum, also on the reserves bench for the Bathurst Gold Cup Final, finished third in the aforementioned Wentworth Park Gold Cup but has local knowledge on his rivals being formerly trained in the district. Current record holder Lyn's Daisy has been lightly raced in recent times but showed she is nearing her best form with a solid second placing to the highly rated Forty Twenty in 42.35 at Wentworth Park on March 7.
Once again the Ricky Bourke trained Fort Shakin' will be the sentimental favourite and he'll be out to defend his title and keep his unbeaten Bathurst record intact.
It was an emotional time on the presentation dais last year as Ricky's partner Jo-anne accepted the trophy and rug. Jo-anne is the daughter of Trevor Black whom the race is run in honour of each year. Trevor, who originally hailed from Bringelly, was a very successful trainer for over forty years. Upon moving to Lidsdale in 1990 he became one of the district's leading trainers as well as being a respected and highly sought after muscleman up until his passing in April 2000.
Bathurst Bullet Primed For Firing
After a disappointing effort in a heat of the Temora Cup on February 28 current 307metre record holder Bells Fair looked like missing the Bullet after being diagnosed with a mystery virus. However trainer Mark Vella was so happy with the way his charge had responded to vet treatment that he has no doubts that his charge is fit and ready for another crack at the record. Bells Fair boasts an impressive 18 wins from 25 starts at Bathurst but his 307metre statistics are even more remarkable scoring at 12 of 14 attempts.
That outstanding record led to Bells Fair being crowned the 2008 Bathurst Greyhound Of The Year. He posted an almost unheard of 17.47 in setting the track record on October 18 but has also bettered the old mark of 17.60 on a further seven occasions and remains the only greyhound to have ever done so. The son of Collision and Fair Hazard also took out the prestigious Cannonball at Richmond in early February claiming his heat in a sizzling 22.46 posting a new first section record in the process.
Whilst Bells Fair is certain to be at short odds in the Bullet he won't have an easy time of it taking on a smart filed of short-coursers. Leading the charge is Larrapin Storm a recent 22.51 Richmond winner and the in-form Laurie's Mate who has won four of his past six starts. Also in the mix is smart city winner Moorbel Jack who is having just his second run from a spell and Earllee who was the 2007 Bathurst Greyhound Of the Year and whilst he hasn't won for 10 months he still remains a model of consistency rarely missing out on place prizemoney.