Chica Destacada, whose name means ‘Outstanding Girl’ in Spanish, gave veteran trainer Doreen Drynan her first taste of glory at Group One level when she brilliantly claimed the National Sprint Championship at Cannington in August.
This Friday Chica Destacada will be aiming to add to that triumph when she exits box two, the same box which she used to score success in the National Sprint Championship, in the Group One Melbourne Cup at Sandown Park.
The NSW trained speedster was a phenomenal winner of her heat last Thursday. Exploding from box six, the bonny black bitch was too strong for the Anthony Azzopardi trained Cawbourne Whip, winning by just over one length in an airborne 29.22.
Drynan said she was expecting her kennel star to go well in the race, having run a great second in a Melbourne Cup Prelude the week prior, but was shocked to see her perform so dominantly.
“She didn’t trial too bad and then it was a good run when she raced there the week before, but it was a bit of a surprise that she got up for us on Thursday night. It was a very pleasant surprise though, I can tell you that!”, Doreen laughed.
Chica Destacada has been a wonderful performer for Drynan winning 12 of her 31 career starts, including seven triumphs at Wentworth Park, while she also made the final of the Group One Topgun at The Meadows last month.
Since finishing at the tail of the field in that event, Doreen has entrusted leading Victorian trainer Darren McDonald with looking after her pride and joy.
“I left her down there with Darren after the Topgun so she could have a trial at Sandown and a look at the track”, Doreen explained.
“He has done a top job with her. The advantage of sending her to Darren as well is that we more or less do the same thing in regards to the working of the greyhounds and feeding them, so there wasn’t a great deal of change for her as far as that is concerned.”
Doreen also expressed concerns that travelling around the country was starting to take its toll on Chica Destacada, providing another reason to leave her in the care of McDonald for the past few weeks.
“She has done a bit of traveling lately and I think that effects them.
“The Melbourne Cup is the biggest race in the entire greyhound industry so you have got to give her every chance you can to perform well.”
However, Doreen, who bred the daughter of Cosmic Rumble and Eluthra with her daughter Kerry, feels that she is not as well boxed in the two as some may think.
“It is the same box that she won the National Sprint from but she seems to go better when she is drawn out on the track a little bit.
“She seems to be able to pace up a lot quicker because she is inclined to step a bit to the right when she comes out of the boxes.”
As for who she rates as the biggest danger, Doreen concedes that it may be one of two that Darren McDonald has in the race himself.
“I think Keybow (Box 1) is going to be the hardest to beat because all the speed is drawn on the outside. With that being said it is hard to say and a lot of it is having luck into the run to the first turn.”
Doreen waited 48 years for her first Group One win but she may very well get her second within the space of three months if Chica Destacada puts her best paws forward on Friday.
At this stage, the thought of winning the sport’s highest honour still feels like a surreal concept for Drynan, who is already thankful for the excitement ‘Chica’ has given her.
“She has given us a lot of thrills and the biggest thrill is the fact that we bred her too, it makes it even more special.
“If I happened to win the Melbourne Cup I just hope I don’t have a heart attack! It would be the greatest thrill ever, I have been in greyhounds for that long.
“It was an absolutely great thrill when she won the National Sprint final at Cannington but to win the Melbourne Cup as well would just be awesome, I can’t even imagine what it would be like.”