Four heats were conducted last Thursday evening, with two greyhounds breaking the seventeen-second mark over the short-course 297m distance.
Heat one went to Young trainer Vicki Prest, making the three and a half hour trek to the Dapto circuit worth every second, as her charge Grand Hombre, exploded from box five to score comfortably by four and a half lengths in a smart time of 16.95. Charlie Gatt qualified his first runner for the final with Unleash Hell, who ran a respectable second. The $3.00 favourite My Bella Rose, who took out the Group Two Dapto Puppy Classic in December, failed to qualify for this weeks final after missing the start and winding up in third position.
Charlie Gatt’s second qualifier came in heat two, when Neva’s Tree put in a faultless performance from box two, saluting by six and a half lengths in 17.00. Bred by Gatt’s superstar chaser Disintegrate out of Hey Princess, Neva’s Tree made it his fourth career win from his start sixteen and will again exit from box two in Thursday nights final. Kevin Key’s Tiggerlong Chick produced a solid effort to grab second place and finals spot. The $2.00 race favourite El Senor Toro found early trouble and finished fifth.
One of the series favourites Exhibitionist, stepped out in heat three at skinny odds of $1.60 from box one, however had to settle for second place behind the speedy Little Elsie who flew out of box three and led throughout in a fast time of 16.97. Trained by Amy Bennett of Wilberforce, the daughter of El Grand Senor and Oxley Amy finished third in the 520m Group Two Dapto Puppy Auction final and held out her main rival by one and three quarter lengths, but will need to overcome a tricky box six draw on Thursday night.
The final heat of Classic went to another outsider in King Cowboy ($7.90) for Luke Azzopardi, clocking 17.24 from box three. Charlie Gatt’s third qualifier Paselina, led to the turn, before King Cowboy railed underneath, to streak away by two and a half lengths. The 36.7kg heavyweight recorded his first victory since September of last year and will start from box four in the final.
The box draw for the $8,000 to the winner final to be run at 8.55pm is:
1. Unleash Hell – Charlie Gatt
2. Neva’s Tree – Charlie Gatt
3. Paselina – Charlie Gatt
4. King Cowboy – Luke Azzopardi
5. Exhibitionist – Tony Brett
6. Little Elsie – Amy Bennett
7. Tiggerlong Chick – Kevin Keys
8. Grand Hombre – Vicki Prest