Someofthe best greyhounds in the nation have ventured to Wentworth Park for the Group One Paws of Thunder series in pursuit of the $100,000 first prize.
The final will be run on Saturday night and, although many stars were knocked out of contention during last week’s heats, it looks an extremely strong feature.
Dyna Villa (Box 8) is a star of the sport and will be looking for his second Group One win when he jumps from the pink, the same box he exited to record a sensational victory in the 2014 Melbourne Cup. The son of Collision and Roxio Bale isn’t even two-and-a-half, yet he already has more than $520,000 in prizemoney and he is shaping up to be one of the best greyhounds we have seen in recent years.
Team Dailly have a strong hand with Kerrigan Bale (2), Spring Leaf (3) and Maximum Lil (7) all a realistic chance of figuring in the finish. The three bitches have all been in great form and it would be no surprise to see them all race well.
Shoulders (6) returned to his best form last week with a devastating 29.64 win from an identical draw. Trainer Anthony Azzopardi is happy to be in the six and said his charge only needed a bit of clear galloping room and to be within a couple lengths of the lead early to be in with a winning chance.
Leading mentor Jason Mackay only has good dogs and he would be thrilled with how Assertive Bella (1) has been racing since joining his kennel, with two slick wins at headquarters in as many starts for him. She isn’t the quickest early, but she does have a massive engine.
Coolabah Jet (4) is racing in career-best form and has been loving Wentworth Park, although this is a massive class jump.
Whittaker (5) could be anything if he had a touch more early pace, but he is only young and continues to improve with each run. We are sure to hear big things about him in the not-too-distant future.
The Group One Paws of Thunder is race 8 and will jump at 10.15pm.
Australian Racing Greyhound caught up with the trainers, while our expert tipster Brad Bugeja also gave us an insight into each runner and who he thinks will take home the cash.
ARG’s Brad Bugeja: “Has excelled since joining the strong Mackay kennel and with a clean getaway she is obviously a great chance of featuring. She has recorded a solid 5.49 to the first marker in her two wins here but last time out she improved by two lengths in the run home. It’s going to be hard for her to hold them out early so it may be best to include her in your exotic bets.”
George Dailly (Co-trainer): “If she is given a clear run early and is able to lead then she can carve some fast times, she is not a bad bitch. She has to lead though, if she is off the bunny then it becomes a bit hard for her.”
ARG’s Brad Bugeja: “Pink draw helped last time out in her brilliant 29.80 heat win and from the two draw I think she faces an uphill battle. She is blessed with a heap of talent but against a line-up like this she can’t afford to make any mistakes early. Her 5.43 first section last week was highly impressive but she has pace drawn all around her so I can’t see her reproducing that effort.”
George Dailly (Co-trainer): “She did what she had to do to qualify but hopefully she can run a bit faster this week and get a nice clear run. If she is close to them up the back then she will be finishing on strongly. The box is good for her, it won’t worry her at all.”
ARG’s Brad Bugeja: “Racing in rare form at present and she is the value in the race. Last week she showed good pace and was able to match motors with the classy My Boy Snoop for most of the journey and I was quite surprised that she managed to reel him in. She went 5.47 to the first marker but I think with a good getaway she is capable of getting down to around 5.42 and that would be enough for her to hold them out and score.”
Andy Lord (Kennel representative): “I don’t think the box will worry her because she can win off the inside or outside. She isn’t the best dog in the race so she will need a bit of luck, but if she can get to the front then she has a chance.”
ARG’s Brad Bugeja: “Aiming for five wins in a row and was very strong in the run home last week. She is poorly drawn here and with a heap of pace being drawn around her she is likely to find a lot of bother. Connections would be over the moon to have her in the race but I can’t see her making an impact.”
ARG’s Brad Bugeja: “Huge talent and used his rails draw to advantage last week. The big concern with him is that he has poor box manners and he needs room in the first 40m or so to balance up. I’m expecting him to miss away again and he is likely to get squeezed out and therefore not be a factor for the remainder of the race.”
Anthony Azzopardi (Trainer): “I think he is a big show, he has just got to offset [Dyna Villa] coming out of the boxes. If he can beat him out or get a sit just behind him early then I think he has a really good chance. He is better boxed out wide as long as nothing comes out and takes him off because he needs a bit of room. If he gets it, look out.”
ARG’s Brad Bugeja: “Showed tremendous improvement in his heat and the exciting Dyna Double One had every chance to reel him in. He is very hit or miss early but if he does hit, he will have the speed to cross and he has proven in his career that he is capable of running the hands off the clock when he finds the lure early.”
George Dailly (Co-trainer): “The draw wouldn’t have bothered me too much except for the fact that Dyna Villa has drawn the pink, I think he might give her a bit of grief early on. If he crosses to the rails coming out of the boxes then she is in big, big trouble.”
ARG’s Brad Bugeja: “Racing extremely well and she is armed with impressive early speed, from the seven draw she will need to ping away again but even if she can just settle in the top three early, she will finish on well and she might run over the top in the home straight.”
ARG’s Brad Bugeja: “This bloke just continues to impress and he seems to do everything right. After finishing second in the Silver Chief Final he made his debut here and he reeled off explosive sectionals before winning in a brilliant 29.64. Normally the pink draw in finals here is a disadvantage but he has a habit of pinging away from wide draws and I would expect him to find a length or two on his heat time. All class and he will probably be the number one all time prizemoney earner within four or so months.”
Anthony Azzopardi (Trainer): “She is racing very well and it took a good dog to beat her last week. This is another big step up and she will be very long odds if she gains a start. She needs to be drawn on the inside to be a chance, but it is hard to see her winning it.”
ARG’s Brad Bugeja: “Huge effort when placed in her heat last week and if she gained a start and repeated that effort she would be a genuine chance. Keep an eye out for her in future Group races as I believe she went to the next level last week.”
George Dailly (Co-trainer): “He did a very good job [in his heat]. People keep forgetting that he is only a baby, he has only had [six] starts and the dog that led him (Shoulders) is a really good dog. I thought he did a top job to run second to him.”
ARG’s Brad Bugeja: “Possibly the fastest chaser on the planet and he will have derived a lot of benefit from last week’s heat run. Unlikely to gain a start but if he did he is likely to start favourite and he could possibly blow them away.”