The Group 1 Association Cup is the NSW GBOTA's flagship distance event with three heats over 720 metres appearing on the program at Wentworth Park for Saturday January 10 with a $50,000 purse awaiting the winner of the final the following week.
The heats promise to provide some exciting racing with the star attraction being multiple Group race winner Fallen Zorro drawn in box 7 in the third heat for Tasmanian trainer Shane Whitney. Whitney has clocked up some serious frequent flyer points travelling all over the country with his talented bitch with much success.
Fallen Zorro's litter brother is Chinatown Lad holder of the Wentworth Park track record of 41.93 set on 2008 Nationals final night. He is absent recovering from injury. Fallen Zorro is yet to win at Wentworth Park after 5 attempts but she has been placed on each occasion and has the impressive record of 18 wins and 19 placings from 45 starts.
Whitney will be hoping he can add this Wentworth Park feature to his bitch's record but the locals look to offer some stiff opposition. Fallen Zorro usually races on the pace so Whitney will be looking for her to get across safely from box 7 in a race where the main danger looks to be the in-form Dana Lou Lou.
Trained at Catherine Field by owner Neville Brown Dana Lou Lou has won at its last three including two impressive sub 43 second wins at the Glebe circuit.
The first heat features the Carolyn Reinke trained Octane Al which has hit form over the 720 at Wenty at the right time having run a mighty bold race coming from well back after an early check to finish a length second to Irinka Samuel at the track last Saturday in a slick 42.62. Octane Al returned to Wentworth Park two days later to improve on that to win in a fast 42.44 and goes into the final with a record over the 720 at the track of 4 wins and 6 placings from 15.
Trainer Neville Brown also has Dana Lou Lou's litter brother Dana Knuckles engaged in this heat. Dana Knuckles is coming off a third to Octane Al last Monday after some solid recent form at Wenty and the provincials and will ensure “Al” doesn't get it all his own way.
The second heat promises to be a great contest with the in-form Irinka Samuel in box 4 for owner trainer Chris Carl. Carl has done a great job with the dog compiling four impressive wins at its last four attempts over the 720 metres at Wentworth Park including a slick 42.54.
Carl noted his dog is the only first grader contesting the heats. “I have gone from 5th grade to top grade in the space of one month” Carl said.
“My dog had a slight set back prior to his last win, so after that run he will be at his best for Saturday's heat.
“There's speed drawn inside him so he needs to keep beginning as well as he has been doing lately and I will be looking for another bold showing” Carl concluded.
Irinka Samuel will have strong opposition from The Gardens distance track record holder Lilley Criminal trained at Londonderry by Anthony Azzopardi. At its last start Lilley Criminal was well beaten by Fallen Zorro in a Sandown feature after qualifying second in its heat. Prior to that the dog had performed with distinction at Wentworth Park winning a heat then the final of the Pages Event Hire Group 2 Summer Cup over the distance in a very slick 42.29.
Tom Astbury's Lyn's Daisy trained by Charlie Dimech and Gold Slammer trained by John Fleming are no strangers to the Wentworth Park 720 having contested 66 such races between them for 16 wins and 22 placings.
Warren Harper would dearly love to have the mighty Miagi contesting this race but that great favourite of NSW race goers is sadly retired due to injury but Warren will be there with Calhoun Park which has box one and a two wins (best 42.66) and one placing from seven trys at the Wenty 720. The dog did have good support at its last start when fourth to Irinka Samuel last Saturday and the astute Harper is sure to have the dog prepared to the minute. Harper said the box draw did not matter to his dog. “But she needs to begin better than she has been lately” Harper stressed.
Besides Fallen Zorro there are two other well performed visitors, both having their first starts at the track, Thistle Whistle in the first heat for Queensland trainer Helen Keep and Victorian Texicali Rose trained by Michael Davison which takes on Fallen Zorro.
There could have been others – Robert Britton chose to go to Adelaide with Gunnadoo Magic which defeated Chinatown Lad and Octane Al in a heat of the Pages Event Hire Sydney Cup over the 720 at Wentworth Park on September 27.
Queenslander trainer Robert Giltinan represented his home State in the 2008 National Distance Championship final with Nicely Done. He brought Smart Choice, the winner of 11 from 34, to race at Wentworth Park last Monday but went home without nominating for Saturday's heats when the dog's performance behind Octane Al disappointed him.
For the first time this Group 1 contest carries the banner of Hotham Body Repairs and the NSW GBOTA is delighted to have the company, which is well known in greyhound circles, associated as sponsor of the most prestigious Group 1 distance race on the Wentworth Park calendar.