The Gardens will play host to one of the most open group races in recent memory this Saturday night, when eight accomplished sprinters line-up for a tilt at the Group 2 Multicam Black Top (515m).
First run in 2005, the Black Top has become the signature event at The Gardens, with some star chasers laying claim to being victorious in the rich Group 2 event over the years.
This Saturday night will be no different, and if the spirited racing from the four heats is anything to go by, patrons are in for a champagne night of greyhound racing at the Hunter's leading greyhound racing complex.
The fastest qualifier for the rich $35,000 to the winner final is Jason Mackay's evergreen sprinter Snozz, who has returned to some remarkable form in the past couple of months.
Having qualified for a plethora of feature events over the past couple of years, the son of Bombastic Shiraz won't get a better chance to add a group race to his already impressive resume than this Saturday evening.
From box eight the fawn flyer carved out a slick 29.51 to win his heat by three and a quarter lengths over Group 1 National Futurity winner from earlier in the year, Daydream.
Snozz will again exit box eight in Saturday night's final, which should aid his chances in finding a spot on the turn, and ultimately, a chance of winning.
In the first run-off, Brett May's speedy Bit Stressed, ran her rivals off her legs to claim a solid 29.65 victory, holding off a gallant Tuiaki in the process. Bit Stressed has a terrific record at The Gardens and with her speed, is a chance in anything she contests. Tuiaki on the other hand will get back early and charge home as he showed on Saturday.
Elite Blue Size kept his love affair with The Gardens circuit in tact in the second heat, coming off a limited preparation to record a determined 29.88 victory from the inside trap. His trainer Reg Kay was in a race against time to get the National Derby winner ready for the series but now he has secured a final berth, is one of the major players. He beat a gallant Lukekely Magic by a length and it's a terrific effort for this honest bitch to qualify for another feature race final.
The final heat saw Victorian dynamo Flash Of Light start a pronounced favourite from the inside trap. Whilst she finished strongly to claim second and a spot in the final, it was Ken Cheetham's New Divide who led from start to finish in a nippy 29.66.
New Divide has loomed as a real star in recent months and has picked up where Take The Kitty left off for master Hunter Valley conditioner Ken Cheetham.
Both chasers are chance in the final with a chance from their respective draws.
The Gardens will hold a 12 race card this Saturday night, with all races covered on Sky Racing 2.
The Black Top final, staged at 7.08pm ESTD, will be covered on both Sky Racing Channels, and given the quality of the race, the more that witness it the better!
On-course patrons at The Gardens will have plenty of entertainment, but it will be on track where most of the action is; with 12 action packed races.
The box draw for the final hasn't answered too many questions; with eight realistic chances in betting. That should go well for Thursday night's Black Top Calcutta, with champion former hoop ‘Miracle' Malcolm Johnston, the guest speaker.
With such an open race; there should be spirited betting in claiming Calcutta runners.
The box draw for the final is;
$50,000 Group 2 Multicam Black Top (515m) – Saturday September 4
- Box 1 – Flash Of Light Mark Delbridge $6.50
- Box 2 – Daydream Brett May $3.50
- Box 3 – Lukekely Magic John Grief $16.00
- Box 4 – New Divide Ken Cheetham $6.50
- Box 5 – Tuiaki Neville Brown $7.00
- Box 6 – Elite Blue Size Reg Kay $4.25
- Box 7 – Bit Stressed Brett May $10
- Box 8 – Snozz Jason Mackay $3.75
- 1st res – Nicholas's Habit Marie Burton
- 2nd res – Lochinvar Marlow Robert Smith
Let the fun begin!