After the excitement at Wentworth Park last Saturday night with the Group One Paws of Thunder final our attention now shifts to the Hunter Valley where Unitbet Gardens will host five heats of the Dogpro National Futurity for the bitches and four heats of the Newcastle Herald National Derby for the dogs, both carrying a $75,000 winner's purse.
The annual age restricted classic provides spectators with two incredible finals showcasing the best young talent Australia has to offer. Unitbet Gardens racing manager Nathan Grech is assured the series will provide excitement for all involved:
“Great prize money attracts the best greyhounds, with the talent that is on show over the three week series I wouldn't be surprised if the track record was to go”
With some extremely fast personal bests amongst the contenders, the track record of 29.23 may not be all that safe this week with a number of dogs capable of lowering the 515m time standard which has stood since 26th June 2010.
Friday afternoon's spectacle will kick off with heat one of the Dogpro National Futurity and Blow The Doh for local trainer Emanuel Borg drawing pole position with a personal best of 29.79 including a 100% placing record over the 515m. Lightning Lulu for John Heard recorded a sizzling personal best at the track last week of 29.65 and a favourable box three puts her in the race for a big performance. Despite drawing poorly in box six, Little Miss Sparkle has near perfect career statistics of fourteen starts for eleven wins and one minor placing with a very quick first sectional pb of 4.88 could see her cross her rivals to lead at the first turn.
Heat two of the Futurity sees Jason Mackay's newest addition Sometimes Speedy from South Australia who stepped out in impressive style for her debut at the track last week in a respectable 30.19 with definite improvement in sight this week from box seven. John Heard has another strong contender with Princess Black from box two with a flying 29.65 personal best with strong form at Wentworth Park over her past five starts, not missing a place. Helen Izmir has been in great form for Ken Staines with a pb at Wentworth Park of 29.76 drawn to perfection in box eight and don't discount Amadeus Strikes for Steve White, the recent Group Three Nowra Puppy Classic winner.
Reg Kay returns to NSW group racing with Wong Way Suzie a rising star that is drawn suitably in box eight and has a sizzling 29.55 at the track and is bred from proven producer Elite Oriental. Ritza Elsie for Mark Gatt flew home last week after being hampered early and will be looking for her first win at the track from box two. Punch One Out for Jason Mackay ran home well to finish second last week and should improve from box four.
The first heat of the derby consists of Mr Beau for Ron Bell who is an offspring of the extremely successful Collision x Daydream litter, with a pb of 29.59 and some handy wins of late should be in the firing line. Barneys Magic for Anthony Azzopardi has good form on the board including a 29.84 pb at Wentworth Park and is drawn ideally in box two. Break Loose for in form trainer Dave Pringle can run a cheeky race from box five and has a Wentworth Park pb of 29.78.
Heat two of the derby is no doubt the most anticipated with any dog capable of taking out the final in three weeks' time. Recent Gosford maiden winner Jack's Joker has pole position for Dave Pringle, unbeaten in his last four starts and no doubt has clocked a smart trial time at the track. Dark Assassin from box seven is another Daydream prodigy for Anthony Azzopardi. He has been lightly raced and is primed for this series with six wins from just nine starts including a 29.85 pb at Dapto.
Despite drawing poorly in box six, Mark Gatt's Carlos Pedro has amazing run home stamina and not long ago posted a near record time at Richmond over the 535m running 30.36.
Heat three of the Derby sees in the invasion of the interstate runners with Potsdam a flying Queenslander who ran 22.59 over 395m at Albion Park and has group race experience, drawn to perfection from box two. John's Son for Ron Bell has a sizzling pb at the track of 29.48 and from box three has the ability to repeat that performance. Jagger Swagger for in form trainer Mark Azzopardi posted a very impressive win last week at Wentworth Park clocking 29.78 and can be a front runner from box six with his solid early speed.
The fourth and final heat of the Derby sees another interstate invasion with in form Victorian Allen Makoto for Mark Delbridge one of the highlights of the series having just 9 starts and racking up 7 wins and 2 minor placings including a 29.65 pb at Sandown will be the red hot favourite from box one. What a Player from box eight has been lightly raced but consistently posts impressive times including 29.65 in his maiden victory followed by a 29.68 performance at the track three weeks ago.
Reg Kay returns with another bright prospect in heat four of the Futurity with Shanghai Rose poised from box two to improve on her pb of 29.60 with another notable performance. La Host has drawn pole position and with a pb of 29.68 and can run a cheeky race to steal this heat. Inconceivable for Majella Ferguson contested the Gardens maiden series so has solid track experience and a 29.82 pb with good early speed should see her up front from box three.
The fifth and final Futurity heat sees a newbie to the track for Anthony Azzopardi, Maya Keroma. She has solid form at Lismore and would be primed for this series and has drawn ideally in box two. Bugatti Flyer from box eight has impressive two turn track experience including a 29.83 pb at Wentworth Park and has good early speed to cross from the wide draw. From box three, Proven Wag for Simon Gafa has had respectable form as of late and strong early speed to match with the others early on.
Semi-finals of both the Futurity and Derby will be conducted next week with the Group One Paws of Thunder winner Sheikha already through to the semi-finals through automatic qualification.
The place to be this Friday is Unibet Gardens for some high quality racing from Australia's best with the first heat kicking off at 4.07pm.