The New South Wales assault on the Group One Australia Cup heats on Saturday night will rely on the performances of just three runners from the kennels of Jason Mackay and Mark Gatt.
Wentworth Park and Richmond track record holder Punch One Out returned to Mackay’s Richmond Vale kennels last month, after a brief stint with her owner Grant Fennelly in Queensland. The daughter of Knocka Norris and Little Egyptian took out the final of the Group Three Gold Coast Cup at Albion Park, clocking a sizzling time of 29.75 and won four races at Albion Park and Capalaba.
Upon her return to Mackay in January, Punch One Out ran a gallant second behind Iona Seven in the Group One Paws of Thunder final at Wentworth Park, in a fast time of 29.70.
Punch One Out became a genuine superstar when she smashed the 29.43 Wentworth Park record, previously held by Noble Pedro, by clocking an airbourne 29.27 over the 520m, in taking out a heat of the Group One Golden Easter Egg during March of last year.
Making her debut at Lismore during July of 2012, Punch One Out finished second at her first three starts, before breaking her maiden status over the 366m straight journey at Capalaba. She then went on to win her next four races around the Queensland circuits.
During January of 2013, Punch One Out made her way to the Mackay kennel, recording a flying personal best at The Gardens (29.30) and became a multiple track record holder when she clocked a blistering 29.90 over the 535m at Richmond.
Recently nominated for 2013 Greyhound of the Year, Punch One Out now has an impressive 22 wins next to her name from 48 starts, including 16 minor placings and a healthy prize money total of $153,749.
Exiting from box five in heat one of the Australian Cup will prove a difficult task; however her run home strength and stamina will be a definite factor, provided she avoids trouble at the first turn.
Mackay’s other runner Zipping Willow also returned from a two-month spell last Thursday at Maitland, clocking a sensational time of 22.42 over the 400m. The beautifully bred daughter of Goodesy and Sirocco Lass scored by a head, and despite having just the one start over the short course distance since her return, this gifted chaser will test her rivals in heat two of the Australia Cup and will also exit from box five.
Owned by renowned breeders Martin and Fiona Hallinan, who took out the Group One National Derby, two weeks ago, Zipping Willow will be chasing her 15th career win from start 23. She began her career in fine style around the Hunter Valley circuits, winning three of her first four starts and stamped her authority after a near-record 29.33 win at The Gardens over the 515 metres. After making a successful debut at Wentworth Park at start number five, Zipping Willow now has a sensational metropolitan record of seven wins and two minor placings from eleven starts.
Last month Mackay made the four hour trip with Zipping Willow to Canberra and wasn’t disappointed as she blitzed her rivals in the Group Three Canberra Cup final, saluting in a blistering time of 30.12 by two and a quarter lengths.
Master Thirlmere trainer Mark Gatt will send up and coming youngster Boyce Road to The Meadows circuit, looking to make his third Group One final after just 14 career starts.
Despite finishing fifth in the Group One National Derby final as the $1.70 favourite, Boyce Road sizzled around the two-turn Newcastle circuit in 29.33; at his first ever look at the track.
Coming up with box eight in heat three on Saturday night will prove testing; however Gatt is confident his charge can go well at his first interstate start.
“He should go alright, he’s fit and ready to go. The box will suit him, but it’s a very hard box at The Meadows. If he can get a cart across then I’m confident in his chances, it all depends on whether he gets a clear run or not.”
Coming from the highly-talented Collision x Mystic Pace litter, Boyce Road made an impact from day one when he stepped out in a heat of the $15,000 maiden series at Richmond, recording an impressive 30.69 victory over the 535m.
At just start number ten, Boyce Road produced a sensational effort, saluting comfortably in a heat of the Group One Paws of Thunder, clocking a flying 29.69, and didn’t lose any followers after finishing a respectable fourth in the final.
Boyce Road now has nine wins and two minor placings from just fourteen career starts, with a third Group One finals berth a definite possibility for this rising star.
Sadly, Gatt will be without his second representative for the series, with Ritza Hattie a scratching from the heats due to injury.