Victoria's latest staying revelation, Lilley Criminal, has captivated the minds of greyhound racing aficionados since commencing her distance career in early July.
Lilley Criminal has come under the analysis of respected industry profilers, with the consensus being she poses a real danger to the sport's elite.
Trained by Peter Wishart of North Ringwood, Lilley Criminal has only had six races over the ‘half mile' for three wins, one second and one third.
But, in a meteoric progression through the distance ranks, Lilley Criminal is now a major contender for national glory.
A daughter of former sprint great and 2004 Group 1 Melbourne Cup winner Hallucinate, Lilley Criminal was the fastest heat winner from two state heats of the National Distance Championship (725m) at The Meadows last weekend.
The first four from each heat have qualified for the $10,000-to-the-winner Rapidvite National Distance Championship state final (725m) at The Meadows on Saturday night.
Ironically, the new kid on the staying block turned the tables on 12-time Group race finalist Sky Hazzard in her heat.
Lilley Criminal (($2.10F) defeated Sky Hazzard ($4.80) by one and a quarter lengths, with Mantra Lad ($4.60) two and three-quarter lengths away third in 42.71sec. Four Way Flash ($19.60) finished 12¼ lengths from the winner.
The state's leading female stayer Gunnadoo Magic – a nine-time Group race finalist – was at her brilliant best in the other heat.
Prepared by 2007 Victorian Trainer of the Year, Robert Britton of Lara, Gunnadoo Magic ($4.60) defeated Rebel Angel ($12.30) by three-quarters of a length, with Phil's Mate ($2.00F) a neck away third in 42.83sec – around two lengths slower than Lilley Criminal. Ima Drifter ($13.90) finished four lengths from the winner.
First and second in the state final will represent Victoria in the $50,000-to-the-winner Group 1 Rapidvite National Distance Championship grand final (720m) at Wentworth Park in Sydney on August 30 and the box draw has given Lilley Criminal every chance to win the final with Sky Hazzard and Gunnadoo Magic likely to fight it out for the valued second chance to represent Victoria in the big final.
1Lilley Criminal22141142.7142.71Peter Wishart
2Four Way Flash58121443.4843.48George Kantzidis
3Gunnadoo Magic22284142.8342.83Lisa Cockerell
4Rebel Angel47137242.8842.88Elsie King
5Mantra Lad31125342.7142.71G Jose
6Phil's Mate43511342.8942.89Phil Dickson
7Ima Drifter55744443.0843.08Wayne Vassallo
8Sky Hazzard13421242.0942.80Don Hazzard
9Texicali Rose54231543.3743.37Mark Davison
10C'mon Bella52411543.2943.55Heather Karamatic