It's that time of year when the best of the best flock to Wentworth Park in hope of claiming the Group One Golden Easter Egg along with a record breaking $250,000 first prize.
Despite a few big names missing due to injury and retirement that hasn't stopped a mouth watering night of racing this Saturday with ten outstanding heats to be conducted with first and second placegetters guaranteed a starting spot in next week's semi finals along with the fastest four dogs that finish in third position.
As always, the all important factor in greyhound racing is the box draw. This concept is once again illustrated in heat one with Manuel Bale (quoted at $3.60 at Centrebet) trained by Victorian award winner Andrea Dailly, the current favourite after drawing the coveted box one. Last Saturday after beginning moderately, he quickly mustered speed to finish a gallant second to More Space in a classy free for all in 30.12.
Graeme Bate is a name synonymous with Group One success and his charge from box seven; Allen Elroy ($4.00) will provide him with a great chance despite drawing poorly, he is unbeaten from box seven in two starts including a slick Sandown personal best of 29.58.
The reigning Gosford Gold Cup champion, Tuiaki ($7.50) also represents great value for punters and will be looking to go one better for in form trainer Neville Brown, with his early speed ever improving, exiting from box three he looks certain to fill a placing.
Heat two is filled with bright young stars from both New South Wales and Victoria. Representing New South Wales is Mary Wright's star Noble Pedro ($2.90) who stamped his authority at Wentworth Park last week from box two, gapping his rivals by seven lengths in a flying 29.79. Although drawn awkwardly out wide in box six, he has been successful twice from this box and a repeat performance of last week should see him become one of the favourite's to take out the final.
Victorian Kilty Lad ($4.50) seems to be a greyhound that is continually improving and becoming better known amongst racing enthusiasts. Although having his first start at Wentworth Park, his recent form from around the country suggests with a clean start he will be a top contender. His most recent impressive performance came at Angle Park in January where he sizzled around the circuit in a speedy 29.39. As always the box draw is crucial and Luke Azzopardi's charge Priminate ($4.60) could take advantage of a critical inside draw in box two to take out the race.
In last years Easter Egg Final, Banger Harvey ($9.00) gave Victorian trainer Robert Britton a great sight when he led for a majority of the final only to be run down in the final stages by eventual winner Cosmic Rumble. Back for vengeance this year his recent quality form suggests he could possibly go one better. His early speed is a key factor and will have to be exhibited once again as he is drawn close to some speedy rivals.
For New South Wales Group One trainer Anthony Azzopardi a fairytale was in the works with the return of Smooth Fancy but unfortunately a broken hock ended this dream and now Azzopardi's faith is being put in consistent sprinter Adam Meway ($3.30). He is unbeaten in his past five starts and with all the attributes of a group one dog, can put his best for forward to overcome an uncomfortable box six draw.
The favourite for the race and one of the favourite's to take out the final is the current star of Wentworth Park More Space ($2.35). Trained by Garry Edwards and weighing just 25kg, the tiny bitch is one of the biggest improvers on the big stage. Last week she blew away a class field in a personal best of 29.68 from an awkward box five draw. With her blistering early speed, it seems irrelevant to count her out based on her box seven draw.
Exiting from box two in heat four, Cawbourne Smash ($5.50) has had mixed form recently however he has performed superbly at free for all level in winning six races from eleven starts with a personal best of 30.09. His excellent box draw should see him fill a place with a clean start. One of the most in form trainers at present, Queenslander Ryan Ayre off his recent Group One Derby success, Bogie Beltah ($4.80) who was a finalist in the Group One Futurity at Betchoice Gardens recently, comes to Wentworth Park one from one from a wide draw last week in box seven, its expected she will be able to handle box four.
The favourite for heat four is James Ennis' Victorian charge Lethal Power ($4.50). The winner of fourteen from just twenty two starts, a recent Wentworth Park steward's trial of 29.99, appears he can handle the Glebe circuit quite comfortably. Although drawn out wide in box seven he has an exceptional record from the box winning four races out of five starts and is well deserved of the favouritism tag.
Fairytale stories are inevitable in greyhound racing and heat five provides the latest with St Pierre ($8.00). After struggling towards the latter stages of his New South Wales racing career, he was moved to Tasmania with mentor Debbie Cannan where his career improved leaps and bounds and his Tasmanian statistics speak for themselves with twelve wins from just twenty two starts. The highlight of his career came at The Meadows where he held off race favourite and current all-time highest prizemoney recipient High Earner to take out the Group One Australian Cup leading all the way from box two. He is currently unbeaten in his past four starts and could possibly create another fairytale for connections.
After taking out the event last year for the first time with the prizemoney at $250,000, no one would be surprised to see Darren McDonald go back to back and his charge Iso Octane ($4.80) who has drawn well in box three, looks a certain starter in next weeks semi finals. With a personal best time of 29.88, his Wentworth Park record is impressive with two wins from three starts.
Kelly's Hero ($4.20), although drawn poorly in box four has found a resurgence of form recently winning at the Gardens and Wentworth Park in impressive times and November Digger ($7.00) who has to be respected with solid form in town and a personal best of 29.95, exiting from box eight.
Interstate starts dominate heat six with none bigger than New South Wales greyhound of the year Elite Blue Size ($3.00) who will start from box eight. With nine wins from thirteen starts, the Reg Kay trained sensation has set time standards for many New South Wales and Queensland tracks and with a personal best of 29.96, his early speed will be vital in helping him cross from the wide draw.
A name also reflective of Group One success is Victorian trainer Jason Thompson whose up and coming star Aston Elle ($4.20) has drawn perfectly in box one. The winner of nine from sixteen should give great hope to owner Ray Borda whose company Macro Meats is the major sponsor of the Golden Easter Egg carnival and it would be a popular victory for all the effort and financial support he gives to greyhound racing. Dyna Tron ($4.60) is currently unbeaten at Wentworth Park having won his last two starts for Andrea Dailly with a solid 30.21 his personal best. Although drawn poorly in box six, he is one of the favourites and a clean start will definitely see him challenge for a winning position.
In heat seven, Symmetry ($4.80) for Robert Britton, will make his first Wentworth Park appearance and with an excellent box one draw, if he can avoid interference will be storming home within the final stages. Richmond Derby winner Decembrist ($7.50) was unplaced at his only Wentworth Park start last week however his class will certainly be on show if he can avoid interference from box four.
Drawn to perfection in box two, Graeme Bate's race favourite Carol Allen ($3.50) has only been defeated once in her last five starts which included a flying 29.57 at Sandown Park. Making her Wentworth Park debut, her early speed will definitely be a factor having a slow beginner drawn on her inside.
Despite being drawn wide in box eight, Red Flame ($7.00) can handle the wide boxes with her last two efforts from box eight resulting in a first and third place at The Gardens and Wentworth Park. Trained in the Hunter Valley by Wayne Vanderburg, the eight draw could provide her with a trouble free run to the first turn and with a personal best of 29.82 she is more than capable of leading from start to finish.
In a depleted heat eight, a number of scratchings have reduced the field to seven runners. The most successful prizemoney winning greyhound of all time, High Earner ($1.90), will exit from box one and his short odds justify his favouritism to take the overall series. After finishing runner up in the Australian Cup, the Kel Greenough prepared superstar has become super consistent since he came out of retirement and despite his recent poor box draws, gets a great chance to clock up a new personal best at Wentworth Park.
Ryan Ayre has two live chances in the heats and probably his strongest chance is National Derby hero Bogie King ($4.00). Making his Wentworth Park debut, the winner of eleven from eighteen starts, trialled an impressive 29.92, and having drawn solid in box three, illustrates he will be contesting High Earner for the lead and possibly a victory. Regardless of a poor box draw, Big Bunga ($9.50) has tremendous early speed and will be charging for a front position at the first turn. The Jason Mackay prepared class runner, has won four from eight at Wentworth Park and provides great value for punters at healthy odds.
Heat nine sees Tiger Sing Man ($4.00), whose recent Wentworth Park form has been impressive, exited from box six; however with an impressive personal best time of 29.86 which he set last week, he definitely has the ability to compensate the unfortunate draw.
Once again the current favourite will exit from box one and He Knows Uno the winner of eleven races has been a consistent racer around many Australian tracks and deserves his favouritism tag. Last week he beat a free for all field in 30.35 and has the attributes to use the desirable box to his advantage. Surfin' Ethics ($9.00) also has consistent recent Wentworth Park form including three wins out of his last five starts at the Glebe venue. The box shouldn't provide any trouble with two starts for two victories from the five alley.
The final heat of the night and Victorian legend Graeme Bate looks certain to add another charge to the semi finals with his classy sprinter Radley Bale ($3.50). The winner of twenty races, including a blazing 29.30 at Sandown Park, after drawing strong in box three, should see him record a respectable time.
With a personal best of 29.94, Shady's Lesson ($6.50) has drawn badly in box five, however has overcome the poor draw on a number of occasions and a clean start should see him in the firing line early. Also a good chance of filling a placing is the James Ennis trained Malta ($7.00) who has strong recent form at The Meadows including a personal best of 29.86. All individual greyhound prices are fixed odds available from Centrebet.com.
As expected favourite to take out the series final is High Earner at $6.50, Kilty Lad is second favourite at $7.50 and Victorian Allen Elroy rounds out the top three at $11.00. Some notable value picks include; More Space ($13.00), St Pierre ($34.00), Tuiaki ($67.00) and Iso Octane ($81.00). These prices and more are provided by Sportsbet.com.au.
The first heat kicks off at 7.28pm live on Sky Racing One.
*All fixed odds prices for the heats provided by Centrebet.com
*All overall winner prices provided by Sportsbet.com.au